top of page

Search Results

32 items found for ""

  • Thoughts on Emotional Intelligence

    Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. (Lao Tzu) About 20 years ago, Peter Salovey and John Mayer defined Emotional intelligence (EQ) as the collection of abilities used to identify, understand, control and assess the emotions of the self and others. Since then, both researchers and business leaders have studied this concept and it’s profound impact in the workplace. ‍ Research by the Center for Creative Leadership has found that the primary causes of problems in executive leadership involve deficits in emotional intelligence. One study of executive leaders found that how well leaders handled their own emotions determined how much people around them engaged with them and the level of effort the team put into their work. ‍ Emotional intelligence is that intangible “something” in each of us that affects how we manage our behavior, navigate social complexities, and make decisions that achieve positive results. While hard to define - we all know how easy emotional intelligence is to actually “see.” We have all experienced working for a leader who is neither self-aware nor able to “read the room” and understand how the team is both thinking and reacting to their message. ‍ Our emotional intelligence is the foundation for a host of critical leadership skills. It impacts most everything we say and do each day. Over the past 20 years of research, we are learning that emotional intelligence is the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence. ‍ WHAT MAKES UP EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EQ)? ‍ Emotional intelligence is made up of four key skills - and while there is much research in this area, I’ve simplified the findings down to a few basic qualities. These four skills are structured in two two domains: personal competence and social competence. ‍ The first domain involves our personal competency: 1. Self-Awareness: Do I understand how I am seen? Do I fully realize how others view me? ‍ 2. Self-Management: Do I have control of what I say, what I do, and how I behave? Can I keep my thoughts and emotions in check, even if I’m upset or angry? ‍ The second domain involves our social competency: 3. Social Awareness: Do I really see others (the whole person) and their point of view? Do I know how to “read the room” and gauge the level of engagement, stress, etc? Do I choose the right time and place when I choose to share my thoughts? ‍ 4. Relationship Management: Do I know how to engage others for in mutually beneficial relationships? Do I try to understand another’s view before pushing my own agenda? Do I actively listen or am I just waiting my turn to talk? ‍ The fusion of these four skills - and the degree to which we master them - determines our level of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence goes far beyond our trying to gauge an employee's mood -- it allows each of us (as leaders) to carefully examine business situations and approach them appropriately. Our EQ largely determines the degree of employee engagement and our ability to work through others to get things done. ‍ Our self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills are key factors in defining our level of emotional intelligence as leaders. If we look around and no one seems to be following - it is likely we have no real emotional intelligence. ‍ Emotional intelligence is an understanding of what it means to be human. By recognizing that everyone has a personal story and by actively listening and showing empathy; we can connect and build relationships based on trust. When we learn to better identify and manage our own emotions, build our own social awareness and invest in building meaningful relationships with others — our business decisions will become easier, interpersonal relationships will improve, and we become the leader our team wants to rally behind.

  • Ask. Listen. Learn. Repeat.

    A couple of years ago, I was working with a multi-billion dollar, global financial services company that had (pre-Covid) a vast network of on-location staff as well as remote online and call center staff to provide direct support to their customers. As we talked about growth and change in their company and their market, we explored if and how they were, or could be, learning from these front-line employees spread across the globe. What were these people hearing directly from customers that the company really needed to hear and understand? ​ We’ve all heard the saying about the importance of having “an ear to the ground” so we can sense imminent changes in our work environments and markets, but how well do we do it? Who has their ears to the ground more than those meeting our customers where they are? Dealing with their problems? Frustrations? Who has the potential to positively or negatively impact our customers minute-to-minute on a daily basis? Too many of the people on the front-lines of our work think they are too “low on the totem pole” to speak up in our companies or don’t have the power to create change in their own work. And, too many companies think the same way. As a result, many of us are really missing the opportunity to become more resilient, adaptable, and creative organizations. When we don’t listen to our customers and the employees who interact directly with them, we run the risk of missing indicators of emergent change in our markets, products, and even broader society that can lead our products and companies toward their next iteration. Through a simple, facilitated reflection process, this company - which thought it did a good job listening to its people because they could reel off some good anecdotes - realized that their listening to front-line employees across the organization was far spottier than they would like. They recognized that their anecdotes were about specific leaders or departments that carried this value of active listening rather than a reflection of a systemic approach or strategy by the firm. The implications from this kind of company self-awareness became pretty vast as they then considered who they needed to train, how they needed to adjust professional roles and expectations, and how a better process of listening could improve their product offerings. To cultivate a powerful culture, people at all levels of our companies need formal and informal outlets to provide feedback, ask questions, and share ideas and solutions. This is just strategically smart. It’s not about being nice to our employees. Not only will listening to our employees make our company more resilient and adaptive, it will also make for happier employees and better products and services for our customers. When they know their ideas and insights are respected (even if not always acted upon), our people will more actively and critically identify customer patterns and frequent issues that we may never see, and solve them in ways we may never have thought of. They will own their work and the whole company will perform better because of it. Powerful cultures don’t happen by accident. They result from powerful leaders, powerful relationships, and organizations that understand and leverage the power of their people at all levels.

  • The Journey of the Entrepreneurial Leader

    The Latin phrase "ex nihilo" means "out of nothing," and it is most often associated with the concept of creation. This phrase perfectly defines the journey of the entrepreneurial leader. Entrepreneurial leaders are a relentless, seek-and-solve breed of innovators. They are the ones forever craning their necks, trying to “look around the corner” for the next evolution of the business. They relentlessly pursue “a better way.” These entrepreneurial leaders are the real money multipliers: turning $1 of capital into $2, then $2 into $10, and $10 into $100. ‍ Over the past 20 years, I’ve developed my own entrepreneurial ventures, taught entrepreneurial concepts, and mentored individuals in venture growth. Those experiences have helped shape one of the hallmark courses in Vanderbilt’s Executive MBA program—Creating and Launching the Venture—offered in both the Executive Edge and Global Immersion Tracks. The course is centered on the three distinct phases of business growth: Phase 1: Question. Design. Do. Discover. Disrupt. Phase 2: Build. Delegate. Iterate. Adjust. Learn. Phase 3: Adapt. Grow. Scale. Think. Phase 1: Question. Design. Do. Discover. Disrupt. ‍ Those who choose this less-traveled path create new businesses, new products and new markets largely out of nothing. They frame problems and seek innovative solutions. They test concepts with early-adopter customers. The first business model, the first customer of a new product, the first employee in a new market - none of it is easy. ‍ This phase is all about bringing something new to the market. Leaders imagine how the solution solves a real problem – and they work hard to communicate that message of relevance to prospective customers. Leaders must have thoughtful curiosity and vision to thrive in this first phase. ‍ Phase 2: Build. Delegate. Iterate. Adjust. Learn. ‍ It's not long until most leaders find themselves spending their day working "in" the business – holding all the pieces of the business together. However, once a business reaches a certain size, trying to be at the center of every decision and approving every move becomes the leader’s downfall. ‍ This phase involves a personal change and the humility to recognize the need for others. Leaders must spend their time hiring the right people, developing the team, and ensuring each team member fully understands the company strategy. ‍ Phase 3: Adapt. Grow. Become. Scale. Think. ‍ There are only so many hours in the day, and even entrepreneurial leaders only have a certain amount of capacity. As the business grows, focusing time for maximum impact becomes paramount. ‍ Regardless of the industry, transforming the business while growing – its people, processes, business model and enabling technologies – is the most difficult work of all. ‍ This phase of business requires incredible foresight and strategic planning. Leaders mentally live 6-9 months ahead of where the business is – planning for upcoming quarters, predicting resource needs, and looking for opportunity. The day-to-day will be managed by the team. ‍ Leaders must grow faster than the company grows ‍ Through each phase of growth, the leader’s skill and professional development must outpace the growth of the organization. The success gained through vision and creativity in Phase 1 will not necessarily translate to the most important skills needed in Phase 2 – team development and working through others. And the leadership traits that define success in Phase 2 become limiting without the communication and strategic skills required for scale and margin creation in Phase 3. ‍ As part of this entrepreneurial journey, there is another “ex nihilo” that occurs for the leader. The learning that occurs – through visioning and design; introspection and investment in the team; and thoughtful communication and strategic thinking – transforms the entrepreneurial leader. And seemingly “out of nothing,” one learns to turn dreams into reality.

  • Are You Building a Powerful Culture or a Culture of Power?

    Power is at the core of your organizational culture whether or not you accept or even recognize it. In fact, if you don’t accept or recognize it, it’s likely that you are the one benefiting from it. You’re “in power”. Regardless of whether you do or not, I promise that others see it, and they see you through it. So, the question is: are you building a powerful culture or a culture of power? Understanding the difference and how your people interpret your culture, and your position as a leader in it, will determine the nature and effectiveness (or not) of your leadership over the long term. Here are a few distinctions that might help clarify: A powerful culture believes in its people. A culture of power believes in the system, structure, and organization. A powerful culture grows power. A culture of power consolidates and organizes it. A powerful culture believes that knowledge and ideas are everywhere in your organization. A culture of power believes that knowledge and ideas come from the top. A powerful culture celebrates people at all levels. A culture of power celebrates a select few. A powerful culture focuses on relationships, responsibility, and accountability. A culture of power focuses on accountability. A powerful culture seeks transparency. A culture of power keeps secrets. A powerful culture communicates. A culture of power distributes information. In a powerful culture, our people feel a sense of ownership for their work. In a culture of power, work feels directive and even compulsory. In a powerful culture, there is joy. In a culture of power, there is fear. In a powerful culture, everyone feels responsible for leading and following. In a culture of power, there are a few leaders and many followers. In a powerful culture, everyone teaches and learns. In a culture of power, some are teachers and others are learners. In a powerful culture, leadership is emergent. In a culture of power, leadership is constructed. In a powerful culture, change is both bottom-up and top-down. In a culture of power, change is top-down. In a powerful culture, people naturally create. In a culture of power, people wait for others “above them” to create. In a powerful culture, people are proactive. In a culture of power, people are reactive. In a powerful culture, people seek truth. In a culture of power, people seek affirmation.

  • 5 Times When Silence Is Golden

    One of the more important strategies of business communication is the finely honed sense of when not to talk. Especially as a executive, I can tell you (humbly, even) that the greatest business lessons I’ve learned have occurred during the times that my own mouth was shut. Here are 5 Times When Silence is Golden: ‍ ‍ 1. A comment about another person’s flaws. A good reputations can be tarnished when it’s just too tempting to blare your negative opinions of another person’s flaws. If you think good news travels fast, just see what this inopportune tactic will do. Worse for the speaker, it will create this certainty in the mind of anyone listening: it’s only a matter of time till you’ll be talking about their flaws too.‍ ‍ 2. A question or comment unrelated to the agenda. I’ve watched aspiring leaders lob questions or comments in a meeting that have nothing to do with the agenda. It’s a sure way to show lack to tact and an inability to focus. A rousing discussion may ensure, but afterwards, attendees will remember the speaker’s lack of focus. They’ll also mark you as someone who has no respect for an agenda nor the meeting organizer. ‍ 3. The clever parting remark. Learn to resist the clever (or off color) parting remark. Lack of sensitivity to others will dog your career. While no one may say anything - those who overhear such things learn over time to avoid direct interaction with such a person. You might get the last word, but not the last memory.‍ ‍ 4. Simply sharing an opinion with no data. Unless specifically asked for an opinion - remember they have limited value in important business decisions. Do your homework. Know the industry. Know the facts. It’s better to remain silent than open your mouth and confirm you’re not prepared for the discussion. Anytime someone begins a statement with “I think…” remind yourself it’s simply an opinion - with likely no real facts to back up the claim.‍ ‍ 5. When emotionally charged. If you do not have enough self-disciple to have full command of your emotions, resist the urge to speak out until you have cooled off and gained some level of self-control. Lasting harm can be done when you speak in such instances. You may be forgiven for the event, but no one will forget.

  • Coaching Concepts: Using the 5 Whys to Solve People Problems

    A leadership team I support was struggling with a particular employee and the issues had been lingering for several months. This employee had been a positive team member and quality contributor until recently. But lately, the employee’s performance simply hadn’t been good enough. The quality wasn’t there. Her work was often incomplete. It lacked depth and insight. And, it was starting to impact the team as the other members had picked up the slack and, as a result, was feeling the tension with management. The management team had already let the employee know improvement was necessary. They had started to meet more frequently and to dial up the necessary feedback and micromanagement. But, the more time they spent together, the more the employee seemed to pull back. In other words, as they ratcheted up their formal communication to try to course correct, the informal and discretionary communication all but stopped. The managers didn’t want to fire her, but they didn’t know what else to do. They felt stuck. In a session with one of the managers, we discussed the simple-but-powerful 5 Whys process created decades ago by Toyota to help them drill down to root causes of problems in their manufacturing. The process is so simple, however, that it really works with any problem. Just ask “why” five times, each time asking “why” of the previous answer such that you create a sort of cascade of deeper and deeper problem statements. If nothing else, it can deepen your understanding of the variance and dynamics of a problem to know what part you have the time, energy, and resources to address. In other words, you may not always have the capacity to address the root cause but at least understand that you aren’t addressing the root cause. In this case, the manager took the 5 Whys back to her colleague and they agreed to use it as a structured conversation guide in a meeting with their struggling employee. They introduced the process and the three of them worked together to dig deeper into what was behind the employee’s poor performance. This was the manager’s message back to me: “I tried the 5 Whys in my conversation with this person. My boss was with me as well. So, I just introduced the process and put {the performance problem} up on a whiteboard and started asking why. It was so helpful keeping the conversation focused and not so emotional. And after all of this time where we thought the employee was the problem, we discovered she actually didn’t have all the information she needed to do what we had been asking her to do. It was us! It was our problem! And here we were thinking we were going to have to fire her! Anyway, we left the conversation so much clearer and in a much better place. It was great! Thank you!”

  • Coaching Concepts – Creating Team Alignment and Managing Up (even if you’re remote)

    I was on a recent coaching call where a mid-level leader of an independent business unit within a rapidly growing company was dealing with the following realities: 1. Her team was entirely remote. 2. She was entirely remote from her supervisor and company leadership. 3. Her team was acquired over two years prior but still felt little connection with the acquiring company. She and her team were performing and performing well, but without much distinction from how they worked prior to the acquisition. The autonomy was good on some levels, but the challenge for this leader was that she was being asked questions about the larger organization, its vision and direction, and even what would happen when it exited. She didn’t have any of the answers. She felt as disconnected and uninformed as they did. There was a slow but growing sense of fear and uncertainty within her team and a developing anxiety within her as their leader. So, what should she do about it? How should she present her concerns? Here are some things we came up with: 1. Start with you. We talked about her just having some open conversations with her manager and/or peers at similar levels or situations within the organization as a way of asking how others were managing this better than her. Instead of looking up at the organization and starting with “you need to fix this”, this approach takes ownership and starts with “how can I do better”. No one is going to shut you down, marginalize your concerns, or get defensive when you start with “how can I do my job better?” 2. Speak on behalf of your team. As you explore how you can do better, frame it with what you are hearing from your people. Share their stories. Share the questions they are asking you that you can’t answer. Give a sense of their fear and frustration. Paint that picture. Then, frame your needs as it relates to your ability to effectively lead them. If you don’t feel informed and connected, you can’t help them feel informed and connected. So again, you are asking to be better equipped to do your job well – which everyone should be pretty well in favor of. 3. Show you are thinking big picture. Provide your supervisor the strategic context for your concern. Talk about the health of the team and the related health of the company. Talk about company growth and the challenges of retaining and attracting talent. Talk about the cost of losing some of the specific people who are asking you the questions you can’t answer. Talk about how this problem only gets bigger the more the company grows if it’s not addressed. 4. Listen for how others see, understand, and prioritize the issue. You don’t have to jump straight to solutions. In this case, the first goal is to raise the issue and get a conversation started. So, in alignment with #1, stay focused on tactical next steps and where they can start with you, but involve others where necessary. Rapidly growing companies have innumerable competing priorities. Raise your issue and better understand where it fits in the mix. This will help align expectations for action or lack thereof. Working with remote teams requires an entirely different level of intentionality when it comes to communication and culture. Problems like the one this leader was presenting don’t naturally get seen by company leadership and don’t organically surface in their day-to-day. Leaders in these situations must recognize this reality and find ways and forums for bringing these issues to light. They can’t just let them stay quiet. That’s clearly not in anyone’s best interest. Sometimes it’s hard to find the words or the process where none seem to exist. But, that doesn’t make conversations like these any less imperative. In order to effectively lead through others, you often have to manage up to get what you need.

  • The Humanity Of Business

    How do we find the humanity in business? We don’t. It is already human—an organism made up of real people with real stories, real dreams, and real pain. Some call it culture—but it’s deeper than company slogans, mission statements, and props. ‍ As leaders, our job is to not kill the humanity of business. We destroy the human element of our business with our distractions of self importance, with insensitive comments, or through our endless drive for facts and figures that replace empathy and problem solving with impersonal efficiency. ‍ A spreadsheet cannot enhance the customer experience. Humans do that. And they come to work knowing that perfection is impossible. Often scared to death that the end result won’t be enough - they aim to be the best they can be. And they seek both a sense of belonging and needing to feel they matter. It’s really that simple. ‍ A business is a human story - a vision that we have to communicate to everyone: our team, our clients, our community, and our investors. The story of the business is the collective stories of the people who are bartering away their most precious asset (their time) to be part of our vision. ‍ A business is human relationships - a means of conveying the non-technical to the technical and back again. Through these relationships we translate customer pain (or desires) into operational solutions. And never forget - it’s the people that add value. These human relationships are a tapestry of talent woven together to make meaning. ‍ A business is human creativity - the fusion of art and science. It is the process of combining the disparate pieces of business know how and the insights gained from our own human journey (often insights from our own regrets and lessons learned) to solve real problems and to make an impact in the lives of others. This shared creativity makes life bigger - it allows us to be part of something really significant. ‍ If we as leaders fail to understand this simple principle - this fragile ecosystem of business can become our own Frankenstein - a monster of our own making. Having all the parts, but more a collection of human corpses - killed of any spirit, heart or soul. ‍ But our business can also become something that bears the characteristics of Christ. Or Gandhi. Or Mandela. Or Milk. Or Yousafzai. Perhaps we can amplify the message of all of those revolutionaries who did not confine themselves to the small-mindedness of confusing operational effectiveness with human impact. ‍ So, if we want to find the humanity in business, we must dare to make life bigger than ourselves. We must spend the time to truly understand and embrace those around us. We must hear their stories and honor their contribution to the greater purpose we all seek - to balance the pain of life with the glory of it.

  • 5 Relationships Every Leader Needs

    There are five key relationships that every leader needs to thrive. While these aren’t always a one-to-one match (i.e. one person, one relationship), they represent key inputs and a continuum of perspectives we all need to support, guide, and grow our practice. 1. Supporter Our supporters are the people whose primary investment is in us as people. Their support is unconditional. In other words, they support us when our leadership is working and when it isn’t. They keep us growing even when we may have lost faith in ourselves. 2. Collaborator Our collaborators are those who get into the leadership mix with us. This can mean getting their hands dirty with us as we lead people, or diving in to challenge us intellectually. Our collaborators are also leaders and their success and failure are directly tied to our own. 3. Critical Friend Our critical friends are deeply trusted peers. They can also be collaborators, but they often work in parallel, not directly with us. These are the people who see our work and our process most wholly and ask us the most challenging questions that push and refine our work. A critical friend could be a very different thinker or work in a different medium or discipline than we do. 4. Promoter While our supporters, collaborators, and critical friends may tell their friends about us, our promoters tell everyone who will listen. They are bought in to our leadership and are willing to step up to put their own name down as an endorsement. Promoters can be developed organically, or perhaps even hired, depending on the context and the direction of our leadership. 5. Respected Critic/Doubter This one may be less intuitive, but our critics tap a different motivation than any of the other relationships here. They may even spur spite, indignation, and a desire to prove them wrong. These may seem odd things to want in our lives, but they have the potential to make us better leaders. So, these are not the critics we dismiss simply because we think they don’t like us. These are people whose doubt of us matters to us in some way.

  • Thoughts On Building Trust

    Leadership is about more than just telling people what to do. It’s about inspiring and guiding a team towards a common goal, and that requires trust. When people trust their leader, they are more likely to follow their lead, take risks, and work towards the success of the team. But building trust takes time and effort, and it’s not something that can be achieved through words alone. Trust is a critical element in any successful team. Trust enables people to work together, collaborate, communicate effectively, and be more productive.Trust allows people to feel safe and secure in their workplace, which leads to increased motivation and job satisfaction. For leaders, building trust with their team members is a critical component of their role. Trust helps leaders to influence, motivate, and lead their team effectively. And trust is not built by leaders hibernating in their offices and sending out emails. ‍ What is Trust? Trust is a complex concept, but at its core, it involves a belief that others will act in your best interest. Trust is built over time through consistent behavior and actions that demonstrate reliability, integrity, and competence. When trust is present, people feel comfortable being vulnerable and open with one another, which creates a sense of connection and shared purpose. In the work setting, trust is critical for effective teamwork. When people trust each other, they are more likely to share ideas, collaborate, and work together to achieve shared goals. In contrast, when trust is lacking, people may be hesitant to share information or work together, which can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and decreased productivity. ‍ Why Trust Matters Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship, whether it’s personal or professional. When people trust each other, they are more likely to communicate openly, work collaboratively, and support each other through difficult times. In the workplace, trust is essential for building a high-performing team. When team members trust their leader, they are more likely to: Be committed to the goals of the team. Share their ideas and feedback openly. Take risks and innovate. Support each other through challenges. Hold themselves accountable for their work. Be loyal to the team and the organization. ‍ Without trust, teams can become stagnant, unproductive, and even dysfunctional. That’s why building trust is one of the most important tasks for any leader. ‍ Leadership Behaviors that Build Trust Building trust is a long-term process that requires consistent effort from leaders. Here are some of the behaviors that can help leaders build trust with their team: ‍ 1. Lead by Example. Leaders need to model the behavior they want to see in their team. If they want their team members to be honest, respectful, and accountable, they need to demonstrate those qualities themselves. Leaders who act with integrity, admit their mistakes, and hold themselves accountable for their actions will earn the trust and respect of their team. 2. Communicate Openly and Honestly. Effective communication is essential for building trust. Leaders who are transparent and honest with their team members will earn their trust and respect. They should be clear about their expectations, share information about the organization’s goals and challenges, and listen to their team members’ ideas and feedback.Leaders who communicate openly and honestly will create an environment of trust and collaboration. Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina, once said, "Transparency builds trust.When people can see what's going on and why decisions are being made, they are more likely to trust the outcomes." 3. Show Empathy and Understanding. Leaders who show empathy and understanding towards their team members will build stronger relationships and earn their trust. They should take the time to get to know their team members, understand their perspectives and challenges, and support them through difficult times. Leaders who show compassion and empathy will create a culture of trust and caring. 4. Demonstrate Competence and Expertise. Leaders who demonstrate competence and expertise in their field will earn the trust and respect of their team members. They should have a deep understanding of the organization’s goals and challenges. They should also be able to provide guidance and support to their team members. Leaders who are knowledgeable and skilled will inspire confidence and trust in their team. 5. Foster Collaboration and Teamwork. Leaders who foster collaboration and teamwork will create an environment of trust and mutual support. They should encourage their team members to work together, share their ideas and feedback, and support each other through challenges.Leaders who promote collaboration and teamwork will create a culture of trust and cooperation. 6. Give Credit Where Credit is Due. Leaders who give credit where credit is due will earn the trust and respect of their team members. They should acknowledge the contributions of their team members, recognize their achievements, and give them the credit they deserve. Leaders who are generous with praise and recognition will create a culture of trust and positivity. I love this quote from Alexander Graham Bell on giving Credit: “Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself.” 7. Be Available and Approachable. Leaders who are available and approachable will build stronger relationships with their team members and earn their trust. They should be accessible to their team members, listen to their concerns, and provide guidance and support when needed. Leaders who are approachable and supportive will create a culture of trust. 8. Keep Your Promises. Keeping your promises is another critical behavior that can help build trust with your team. When you commit to something, follow through on that commitment. This behavior shows that you are reliable, and your team can count on you to do what you say you will do. In the words of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, "Trust is built through actions, not words. We need to keep our promises, deliver results, and be accountable." 9. Listen Actively. Active listening is an essential component of building trust. When you actively listen to your team members, you demonstrate that you value their ideas, opinions, and feedback. Active listening involves paying attention to what your team members are saying, asking clarifying questions, and reflecting back what you've heard to ensure you understand correctly. As former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, said, "The most important thing a leader can do is listen.Listen to your employees, listen to your customers, listen to the market. It's amazing what you can learn when you're really listening." 10.Empower Your Team. Empowering your team members to make decisions and take ownership of their work is another critical behavior that can help build trust. When you delegate responsibilities and provide your team with the resources and support they need to succeed, you demonstrate that you trust their abilities and judgment. In the words ofRichard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, "If you trust your people todo their best, they will do their best. Give them the freedom and support they need, and they will exceed your expectations." Summary: Trust takes time to build and can quickly be destroyed.Our behaviors, not our words, ultimately determine whether we earn the trust of our team. Ensuring lasting trust always involves reliably open communication, honesty, good rewards for hard work, and investing in your team’s strengths and passions. And once trust is established, your team is much more likely to stick around in times of uncertainty.

  • Leadership Trust Isn't Basic - It's Foundational

    I spend a lot of time with individuals and teams working on two big concepts: trust and communication. I always tell them: if trust is the foundation of leadership then communication is the medium. And yet, I have had several occasions recently where more senior leaders have heard about these topics and figure the discussions and trainings must be for junior leaders. They are so basic! I would caution here not to confuse basic with foundational. As every architect knows, you can’t build anything without investing in, improving, and innovating at the foundation. Every foundation must be designed based on the needs of the structure, the current standards, the environment, and the materials. No single foundation suits all buildings – or all relationships. PWC recently published their Trust Survey results for 2023 and they suggest that leaders across industries are underinvesting in the trust foundation – and their people feel it. Here are a few highlights from their research: · INVESTMENT DISCONNECT: 45% of business executives strongly agree that firm leadership gives appropriate attention to earning trust. Now, at first glance, that seems honest if disappointing. The challenge, however, is that the number drops to 34% when you ask employees. · PERCEPTION DISCONNECT: Business executives overestimate how much they are trusted. There is a 14-point gap between their perception of themselves and employees’ perception, and a shocking 57-point gap between them and their consumers. · IMPACT DISCONNECT: Trust is breaking down more than executives think. 54% of employees say they have experienced a trust breaking event at work. Only 20% of executives say that their company has had such an event. It’s also worth noting that 91% of business executives say that their ability to build and maintain trust improves the bottom line. Every human being who has ever had a relationship with another human being knows that trust is far easier to break than to build, much less rebuild. And, it’s hard to build a relationship much less a scalable company without due attention to its foundation. Here are a few tips for checking your foundation: 1. Emphasize the Why: Make sure everyone understands why the company exists and help them find meaning in working there. Help them find their personal “why” in the work regardless of their age, role, or level in the company. Meaning helps us keep a bigger perspective on our work and our relationships and keeps the little things from being trust breakers. 2. Share Values Stories: Trust is built over time and the more you build the more grace you get when a trust-breaking event happens. Your company stories are your “grace bank” that help you build a track record of living your values so that when it appears you had a miss, people see and understand that as the outlier not the norm. 3. Communicate Constantly: Another one of my refrains is that “silence is never silence” in a company. In the absence of your voice, the voice of the company, your people will make up their own stories about you and it – and they are likely to be worse than reality. 4. Own Your Mistakes: Making mistakes does far less damage to trust than not owning those mistakes. You make mistakes. Companies make mistakes. The trust impact comes down to how you handle that reality rather than deny it.

  • Finding Meaning & Purpose

    We all want our lives to have meaning. To have purpose. Yet, it’s easy to get lost in life’s daily “to-do” list when time seems unlimited. ‍ I was recently in a conversation with a friend whose wife has terminal cancer. As he shared her story with me - and how she measures life knowing she has real time constraints - I felt a profound sense of clarity about meaning and purpose. ‍ I use these words together - so here’s my framework for thinking this way. For me, Finding Meaning is to assign value or to feel the significance of an action or event. It’s highly personal. To Create Purpose is to bring value to something or someone. Purpose is both transpersonal and interpersonal - defined by the actions we take and the resulting impact to others. Together, meaning and purpose are acts of significance that bring value to others and to the world. ‍ I do not believe meaning and purpose are wrapped up in some big, hairy, or audacious goal. Instead, they are found in the way we live each day that brings the most of our potential into the world. We find meaning and purpose in the conversation between our heart and the heartaches of the world - building a bridge between our unique gifts and what the world needs most from us. ‍ 5 Insights to Meaning and Purpose ‍ Below are 5 insights that have helped me to define my own meaning and purpose driven from that conversation. Finding meaning and creating purpose come from: ‍ 1. Doing something today that matters. Having a reason to get out of bed, get dressed and do something positive creates momentum for daily well-being. We often forget that everything we say and do has an effect on somebody and something - even when we do nothing. Daily well-being comes from meaningful actions and positive interactions. ‍ 2. Having something to look forward to beyond today. Anticipation of events to come gives us reason to move forward. We all need something to look forward to in life. A healthy sense of “anticipation” can often help energize our lives, especially during tough times. While living in the present is a very beneficial thing – sometimes the present can be a prison of grief, pain, or worry. When we find ourselves in those less-than-ideal present moments, having something to look forward to can give us the courage to keep our faith and hope alive even during the most difficult times. ‍ 3. Belonging. Meaning and purpose come from belonging - being in relationships where we are valued for who we are intrinsically. Real belonging transcends what you believe and doesn’t require us to “sign up” for anyone’s agenda. Real belonging springs from love. It lives in moments among individuals who accept one another as they are and share a deep human bond. ‍ 4. Giving back - serving a purpose beyond myself. Having meaning comes from serving something beyond ourselves and from developing the best within us. Meaning is less about what we want and more about what we give. Using our strengths to serve others creates deep meaning. ‍ 5. Practicing gratitude. Gratitude helps us realize all we have - and that it is enough. Being aware of blessings (in the midst of difficult situations) curbs our human tendency to simply want more all the time. ‍ It does not matter how long you live, how much money you earn, nor how much attention you receive - what gives life meaning and purpose is the positive impact you have made in the lives of others. ‍ Summary ‍ The journey of life unfolds unexpectedly - filled with highs and lows, moments of joy and times of deep sorrow. It’s easy when life is really good. But when things are really bad, finding meaning and creating purpose gives us something to hold to; something to live for; a reason to move forward. It gives us hope. ‍ No one else can give our life meaning. Nor do I believe we suddenly “find” our purpose. We create it for ourselves. I find meaning and build purpose in my life through my interactions with my family, my writing, my work, and my community. ‍ We must assume the responsibility for finding our own meaning. Our purpose will not magically appear one day. We find meaning and create purpose daily by the series of small choices we make.

bottom of page