3 Secrets To Sharing Secrets

Don’t keep secrets. Keeping secrets creates short-term advantages and long-term costs. You gain the edge, but lose the relationship. The world could use less secrets and more sharing. I wish you would share more.

Annoying Secret #1: Bad News

I was happy when he brought me bad news. His eyes matched his words,”I’m really worried.” I exhaled a huge sigh of relief. I was worried too, but this guy worries with data. He had patterns, insights, and possible scenarios. He could have waited, or tried a thing or two first. He wants to look good. But he knows I want to know what he knows. The sooner I know the real deal, the faster we can solve it.

You want your boss to know you’ve got it covered. But your boss wants to help. Share your concern out of respect not need. Bring potential solutions. Share your internal debate. Keep the lead, but give others a chance to collaborate on solutions.

Annoying Secret #2: Best Practices

It was the day before the big review with the senior team. We each had a turn to share our talk tracks. The leader ahead in an important key metric mentioned 3 or 4 best practices for the first time. We’d ALL been struggling toward this same goal, and he had answers.

Keeping best practices secret destroys trust. Secret keepers lose respect. No one wants to promote the secret keeper. Share your knowledge. Offer help. Open your heart and hands to the greater good.

Annoying Secret #3: How You Really Feel

“We’ve all been talking about it; you’re acting different.” His words were a kick in my gut. I knew it was true. The pressure was mounting and I was trying to protect the team. Instead of serving as shield, my stress emerged as unexplained intensity. We talked. We explored feelings and reasons on both sides. It helped. We carved a path forward.

Keeping your feelings secret dehumanizes the relationship. Keeping how you really feel a secret to protect your team may even make you feel like a martyr. Don’t whine, but share feelings with intention. Know the reason for your sharing. Start slowly. Check in. Initiate a balanced discussion (what feels good? what feels bad?) Be open to what you hear on the other end.

The Insiders Guide To The Dark Side

You’ve had those moments. So have I. You desperately want a leadership do-over, but it’s too late. It’s out there – your dark side in all it’s glory.

“Powerful you have become. The dark side I sense in you.”
~ Yoda

You hear yourself apologizing: “I just wasn’t myself.” Don’t be too sure. “I never act like that.” Yes, you just did. Your evil twin’s an excellent teacher.

Listen well to what your dark side has to say.

 A Lesson From My Dark Side

I like to think of myself as a caring leader, yoga woman, introspective, positive, working to develop others. So why was I screaming at this manager from another department? I’d completely lost it. That wasn’t really me. Or was it?

It was MY values that triggered the response. It was MY exhaustion that wore down my filters. Was the manager arrogant and closed minded? Oh yeah. Was I right in defending against the racial prejudice clearly at play? Yup. But I was the one swinging the figurative punches. He stayed calm. Dark side 1. Values 0. No cause advanced by my reaction.

I’ll never forget the incident that plunged me into a deeper understanding of my values and how I respond. Sure I regret my stupidity, but my fight against “bad leadership” now shines a bit clearer.

4 Lessons From Your Dark Side

Your dark side comes bearing gifts. Lean into your stupidity to understand your pain.

  1. Conflicting Internal Goals – When your dark side shocks you, look for signs of internal conflict. Distressed hearts yearn for deeper focus. Consider your competing priorities and options.
  2. Values – When your dark side takes wheel, check for squashed values in the rear view mirror. Look for patterns. Ugly reactions signal what you care about most deeply. Passion is good– even better when managed productively. Values don’t translate well through tantrums and other mishaps. Take time to understand your ugliest moments, and work to reframe them for good. Apologize and talk carefully about what drove the reaction. Dive deeper into the muck to find deeper meaning and connection.
  3. Triggers – Face it, sometimes your evil twin just overreacts. Know your triggers, and see them for what they are. Learn your patterns and ways to cope. Take a break. Walk away. Use your dark side to teach you patience, compassion, and understanding.
  4. Balance – Everyone’s looks and acts a bit uglier when exhausted. You can fake it for a while, but sooner or later tired and cranky brings out the dark side. Your inner witch may just be your body’s way of telling you it’s time to rest. Listen.

Becoming More Authentic: A Practical Guide

You are born authentic. Life happens. You slowly start to hide bits of yourself from yourself and others. Not deliberately. It’s a gradual mutation, hard to see– let alone feel. You work to convince your heart this new you is practical, even necessary. More life happens.
Reverse the pattern.

Benefits of Aging

From the hundreds of folks weighing in on yesterday’s post in various circles (including great comments yesterday, THANK YOU!), the most frequent theme was, “I have become more authentic with age.”

Perhaps it’s because early attempts are clutsy. We need more life to understand our values. Or, we take an aggressive stance without thinking it through. Or perhaps as LaRay Quy commented in yesterday’s post:

Sooner or later, life catches up with those who are not authentic, but I feel sort of sorry for them because most of them have no idea WHO or WHAT they really stand for the illusion has become the reality. I think it’s sometimes called “mid-life crisis?”

Don’t just wait it out and hope for your years to make you wise. You want every bit of authenticity as early in your game as possible.

Growing Toward Authentic

There’s no easy way to BECOME more authentic. I didn’t see authenticity 101 in my son’s freshman choices. But it’s helpful to consider some components.

Values

Get deliberate in articulating your values. Make a short list. Write them down. Order them. Notice the natural tension among them. When your deeply held values battle which wins? For one week, at the end of each day take out the list. Grade yourself honestly on each one. Notice the patterns.

Integrity

Integrity sits at the intersection of your heart, head, mouth and feet. Pay deliberate attention to when and where you do what you say. Where do your best intentions break down? When are you tempted to cover up your choices?

Courage

Most of us show up more authentic in some places than others. Some people and scenes stoke our authenticity. Others bring out the faker in us. Identify one situation where you need more courage. Name the fear. Give it an audacious and ugly name. Then find one way to punch it in the face today.

Transparency

Start today with a stroke count. Count how many times your heart called you to share more, but you bit your tongue. Notice why. Look for patterns. Ask you team for help. What are they longing to learn more about, take the risk and let them in.

Real leadershipThis post is part of the REAL leadership model series. Please join the conversation by subscribing, commenting and sharing.

The Sacrifice Of Authenticity

Authenticity is risky. When you lead from your heart, feedback stings brighter. It takes courage to think (and even more to say) to those in positions of power, “Thank you, I understand you, I choose not to lead that way.”

I’ve said that.

These potentially vital words are treacherous on two fronts. First, you may be missing an important point. Maybe you should be leading differently. Or, even if you know deep in your heart how you’re leading is “right”, the “system” may reject your style. You may not fit in. If values are truly misaligned, something must go, and the system’s bigger than you.

In a world of performance potential grids, and the “gift” of feedback under every tree, when must you say “no?”

As we turn toward the third branch of the REAL model. Authenticity, I asked leaders across many contexts to help wrestle with this sensitive topic.
“How do you balance staying true to your core leadership values when you’re pressured to lead a different way?”

I heard stories of authenticity with happy and sad endings from large corporations, small businesses, volunteer gigs, and churches. And then the offering,

“I think that the balance you’re looking to maintain is impossible without some sacrifices.”

Be sure YOU choose what to sacrifice.

4 Sacrifices of Inauthenticity

Yes, there are sacrifices to true authenticity. But the sacrifices of faking it are greater. The world is full of fakers that crash and burn. Build your leadership on a firm foundation.

  1. Results – I’m going to assume the deeply held values you’re clinging to are producing a track record of sustained results. If not, open your heart again and consider changing your approach. Great results come from a deeply committed team inspired toward a vital vision. If you’ve got that in spades, beware of disrupting that flow. If you’re busy worrying about what others will think, you’re likely to choke. Sure, there’s danger in swimming up-stream, but results buy freedom.
  2. Energy – Working to maintain appearances drains vital energy. To be at your very best you need every ounce of energy focused on your vision and team. Investing that energy in political games or maintaining a facade takes your life force out of the game.
  3. Followers – Human beings want to follow people they trust. Your team has a highly calibrated BS meter. Stop leading with integrity and courage, and people will know. The dangerous truth is that they may appear to be with you. Inauthenticity is contagious. The good news, so is authenticity.
  4. Health – Nothing’s more stressful than leading a lie. If you’re more interested in being promoted than supporting your team, but “act” like a servant leader, your body will retaliate.

    Real authenticity will involve sacrifice. So will faking it. You decide.

Real leadershipAuthenticity is the third branch of the REAL model. Don’t miss another post, enter your email address and join the conversation of this interactive community growing together.

Thanks to the collaborative thinking of members of the Lead Change, Lead with Giants, and Center For Creative Leadership communities for your inspiring discussion on this topic. Looking forward to the comments of the LGL community. Namaste.

*Photo by Larry Kohlenstein

Become Leader Of The Year

Remember how energized you were that time you received meaningful recognition? Perhaps it was something equivalent to the leader of the year award, in front of a big crowd. Hands were shaken and pictures taken. Or it might have been less formal, but deeply touched your heart. “Wow, they really get what I’ve contributed here.” Formal recognition feels fantastic (I know, informal is equally important, but that’s a different post.)

And then there’s the rest of the time. You do great work and no one seems to notice. Or, someone else gets the award, and you’re scratching your head. You suck it up, smile, and congratulate, but inside you’re hurt, maybe even a little bit mad. I’m not proud to say, I’ve been there, felt that.

Tonight

Tonight I’m hosting a big recognition dinner, complete with microphones, music, plaques and hoopla. A few well deserving leaders will feel fantastic. My team and I have debated the nominations, crunched numbers, discussed behaviors. We feel great about our choices. And yet, before I announce winners, I know I’ll get a familiar sick feeling, worried about the rest of the deserving leaders who will leave empty-handed.

Recognition has a sharp double edge.

Become Your Leader of the Year

Sure external validation feels great. But, real leadership energy comes from leading authentically toward your meaningful vision. Real leaders know when they are leading well. They don’t need someone else to tell them they’re leader of the year.

What do you long to be recognized for?

Take a few minutes this week and design the award you would want most to receive.

  • Name it.
  • Define the criteria.
  • Identify the specific outcomes you most long to celebrate.
  • Define the leadership behaviors you would want to model

Articulate what matters most. Perhaps it’s creating lasting change, or progress toward a meaningful cause. Maybe it’s developing others to unprecedented success. Get specific. Write up the talk track you would hear as you walked up to receive the award.

How are you doing?

Be honest. Would YOU nominate YOU for that award today? What must change? Where can you improve?

Don’t wait for external validation. Envision your leadership at its very best. Now, lead toward that. Become your best leader of the year. Make this your best leadership year ever.

Real leadershipThis week we are talking about the many angles of leadership “energy,” the second branch in the REAL model. Tomorrow,will take a deeper look at leadership energy. If you’ve not yet joined the LGL community, enter your email address to subscribe and never miss a post.

Should You Reveal Your Secret at Work?

You want to show up authentic, but then again not every environment is safe. If you tell your secret, will they admire your courage? Will it bring you closer to your boss and others? Or. Will they judge you? Will doors open or close as a result of your authenticity? Bill Treasurer, author of Leaders Open Doors, shares a powerful story of how revealing a deep secret opened the doors to remarkable opportunity. I admire his courage. At the same time, I can’t help but consider how his story would play out in other contexts with other important leaders I know. I suspect the outcome would be different.

Risky Reveals

A risky reveal can be admitting something from your past, in Bill’s case, he was recovering from a drinking problem. Or perhaps it’s a hidden lifestyle choice. If you’re wrestling with a potentially risky reveal, you know. When Bill shared his secret with his boss at Accenture, it didn’t appear to go well.

Although I didn’t expect my boss to pat me on my shoulder and say, “Good for you; you’re a drunk!” I expected more of a reaction than I got. After I told him that I was in recovery, my boss looked at me quizzically and muttered, “I see.”

As the story plays out, his boss was chairman of the board of directors of a non-profit council on substance abuse. A few weeks after the initial conversation, he gave Bill an opportunity to lead a huge project with that agency, with his full support. That project led to more and grew his career.

To Reveal or Not Reveal?

I asked Bill, “How do you decide?”

  1. Check your motives: Consider why you want this person to know. If you’re looking for sympathy or shock factor, don’t do it. Perhaps you feel it will bring you closer and enhance the relationship, that may be valid reason.
  2. Time it right: Resist the spontaneous spill. Even if the exact moment you chose to disclose feels spontaneous, it’s best to have carefully weighed the pros and cons before hand.
  3. Consider their track record: How have they handled sensitive information in the past? What’s their track record. If you don’t know, be careful.
  4. Allow time to process: Don’t expect an immediate reaction. Your news may be shocking at first, your boss may need time to think before offering a useful response.
  5. Consider outcomes: Think about the potential opportunities and drawbacks of the risky reveal.

If you’re interested in the topic of Trust and Transparency, stop back on Friday for the Frontline Festival when thought leaders around the world sharing their best posts on the topic. In fact, why not just enter your email address below, and never miss a post. Join the LGL community and conversation.

Have you been on either end of a risky reveal?

Frontline Festival-April 2013: Feedback and Coaching Edition

This month’s Frontline Festival is all about Feedback and Coaching. I am delighted by the outpouring of submissions. It’s an amazing line-up.

Courageous Feedback

Lolly Daskal, encourages us to take some risks in giving feedback in her post, We Need a Courageous Conversation “In most organizations, and in our relationships, we’re all so busy being polite with everyone that we’re either not aware of the breakdown, afraid of the breakdown, or avoiding it altogether. We kid ourselves into thinking that if we don’t deal with it, maybe it will go away. When we fail to engage and say what we honestly think and feel, our business performance will suffer. When what “goes unsaid” is not being said, our relationships will fail.” She offers, 10 approaches, my favorite is number 7. 

Blair Glesser takes a different stance in, Honestly Speaking, encouraging us to think well about if, when, and how we should offer feedback. She concludes, “Often the whole issue of whether or not to be honest dissipates when you tune in and connect with your heart. Your heart knows exactly what needs to be said and when, and it never is about the shallow stuff. Its feedback is always geared to bring more love to yourself, your loved ones and the world.”

Susan Mazza wins the prize for the post that made me cry (I won’t tell you why, just read it). In The Ultimate Source of Empowerment “People always have a choice even if they do not see that they do. A critical role of every leader is to bring people to choice.”

Encouraging Feedback

Dan McCarthy gives fantastic advice on encouraging feedback in, 10 Ways to Get More Feedback (and 5 Ways if You Can’t Really Handle the Truth). The best part is the 5 Ways to protect yourself against unwanted feedback. “I once had a VP tell me “I hate feedback”. I had to admire his honesty. Actually, a lot of us do, we just won’t admit it. So, if you really don’t want to find out about your weaknesses, and would prefer to keep your head blissfully buried in the sand, then use any or all of these 5 methods.” Perhaps you know someone who needs this post.

David Dye shares 6 practical ways to encourage more feedback from your team in his post, 6 Ways to Not Walk Naked Down the Street.  I can’t help but wonder what search terms brought folks to that title 😉 The best point, “It may take time, but if you begin asking for the truth, showing gratitude for input, and responding to it, you will earn trust, gain credibility, and have the information you need to make the best decisions.”

In her post, What it Means for Leaders to Show Up, Wendy Appel explains that encouraging feedback starts with how we “show up.” Ask yourself,” how do I show up?” Am I present? Do people feel and experience my availability to be there for them or am I distracted, on to the next thing, focused on what I want to say; the point I want to make, forcing an outcome I think is best?” I like this one because it’s advice packaged for daily use.

Robyn McLeod. of Chatsworth Consulting asks Are You Getting Honest Feedback? And then, offers 4 Ways to ensure you receive it. “To get the feedback you need, you have to encourage and invite feedback from others so they know it is OK to be honest with you. This ASK FOR IT model offers tips on how to do that”

Coaching

Dan Rockwell shares 3 reasons you need a “coach” in 5 Sure Fire Ways to Spot a Great Coach, and then teaches us how to know one when we see one. Great, practical advice. A must read. My favorite, “Your ideas seem right because they’re yours – you need tough questions.” Dan’s got good ones.

I love this practical post from Jennifer Miller, Should You Give Advice or Coach?  “Giving advice is saying what you would do. It makes the conversation about you. Coaching helps people decide what they are going to do which is a far more powerful outcome.” The best part, she tells us how to do it.

Brian Smith shares Leadership Lessons: When Mistakes are Made Create a Teachable Moment. Although I might debate his reference to a roast beef sandwich as a healthy choice, his metaphor works. The best point, “You need to be able to separate the act (What the person did) from the person they are. (You’re OK; it’s what you did that isn’t.)”

“Being a good coach means putting others before yourself and always making decisions for the good of the team.” Here are a few tips from Tom Walter in his post, How to Be a Good Coach: Tips for Employee Focused Leaders. Some practical, easy to apply principles for front line leaders.

 How to Give Feedback

In his post, Give Frequent and Useful Feedback, Wally Bock advocates for frequent feedback. “Problems are like dinosaurs. They’re easy to kill when they’re small. But if you let them grow up they can eat you.” Don’t make feedback a once-a-year event. Make it frequent. Don’t make it an ego trip. Make it helpful.

Eric Dingler shares How to Make Feedback a G.I.F.T. by making it Genuine, Immediate, Friendly and Tailored. You’ve got to read his list of very practical suggestions. Eric’s posts are always actionable. His approach works.

Jon Mertz shares a sentiment I am considering painting on my office door, “Life is too short for unproductive drama and spoiled relationship,” in his post Go Hard on the Issue, Soft on the Person: 5 Leadership Ideas. He shares 5 practical tips to make that happen.

Jonathan Green, AKA Monster Leader, shares how to coach to REALLY tough conversations in his post, Dude You Stink: Coaching to Odor Issues. I know this guy. If you had to have anyone tell you that you smell, you would want it to be him.

This one’s fun and powerful. Ted Guloien of MU Field Management Research shares Giving Performance Feedback on American Idol. My favorite point,  “Concentrate on and attend to the other person, and not so much on your own feelings, fears or anxieties about providing feedback.”

Alli Polin explains why we all hate performance reviews in her post, Performance Reviews Don’t Have to Suck.  My favorite thought, “They suck because they’re more about process than the person.” Often true. Alli shows how you can do it better.

Feedback doesn’t work in shallow relationships. Joseph LaLonde explains that it starts with building real communication in his post, The Power of Real Communication. “It involves taking the time to get to know the employees. Finding out their dreams and passions. If things are going well at work. If their job is still fulfilling.”

Recognition as Feedback

Tanveer Naseer asks Are You Following These 3 Rules For Giving Feedback? He also shares the how to use the recognition more strategically as feedback. My favorite line, “feedback should make you hungry to achieve more.” Let it be so.

Greg Richardson highlights the importance of substantive recognition as a feedback strategy in his post, On Recognition.  The best point, foster peer recognition, “Receiving tangible recognition from a peer can be much more meaningful for many people than anything a manager can say.”

Personal Feedback

Peter Friedes shares an activity and an opportunity for a free assessment to help work with your blind spot in, Find Your Blind Spot: A Self-Reflection Activity For Managers

Jesse Lynn Stoner, asks a vital question in her post, Are You a Team in Name Only? “Do you really want a team?” A great example of feedback using provocative questions. Ask tough questions gets to root cause.

In his post, Start With the End in Mind, Mark Miller encourages us to look 30 years out to plan for success in 5 key areas of our lives (he’s also looking or a clean “F” word that means influence if you have any suggestions). He suggests you spend an 8 hour day planning (and giving yourself feedback) on how you’re doing in each of these areas as you make your plan. 

Chery Cegelman writes  Leaders are You a Candle or a Beacon? She encourages us to be in a constant state of self-feedback, “As you think through the meetings you have scheduled this week. Do you need to be a candle or a beacon?”

Next month’s Frontline Festival’s Topic is Trust and Transparency. Submissions due May 10th. The Festival will go live May 17th.

Buzzword Bingo: When Words Get in the Way

Cut the crap. Stop using buzzwords. Say what you mean, not what feels fancy. Distract with your words, and they won’t hear your message.

Leaders use buzzwords to …

  • mask insecurity
  • sound like leaders because they worry that they aren’t)
  • enhance credibility
  • as a substitute for substance
  • fill space
  • distract
  • feed their buzzword habit

I’m working to “peel back the onion” in this “value-added” post on my “world-class” blog by taking a “60,000 foot” look at buzzwords. Yuck.

Buzzwords Backfire

Buzzwords backfire. Real leaders don’t sound like everyone else.

True story

The meeting was only a few hours in and someone texted “bingo.” A wave of silent smirks circled the conference room. Texts of laughter. The team was playing Buzzword Bingo (see link, I hadn’t heard of it either)  at the expense of a leader. It’s a terrible game. Don’t play it. But it’s a sign.

Be yourself. Speak from your heart. Tell your truth. Find your own best words.

2 Ways to Crack the Buzzword Habit

Don’t tempt your team to create their own game. Create meaning not schmaltz.

1. Be Clear

  • Identify key messages
  • Pause before spewing
  • Find unique alternative phrases

2. Be aware

  • Make your own card, and play against yourself
  • Record and listen
  • Ask a friend
  • Be yourself

In Search of Joy: A Saturday Salutation

Most people have big and small joys in their life.

Many are busting to share them.

Could you find more ways to draw out the joy on your team?

What would be the side effects of more joy at work?

“To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.”
~Mark Twain

Early Joy

Some of my earliest thinking on leadership was during a search process for a new pastor in my childhood church. We were just kids, but my parents acted as if we had a big role in the situation. After each service, our family would eat bagels and discuss what we felt each guest pastor could bring to our community. At the time, it seemed perfectly normal to be included in such discussions. In hindsight I realize my parents were working to “grow leaders”.

My favorite possibility was the long-haired guy who would come down into the congregation and lift up his hands and invite us to, “tell me your joys ” He would then engage the congregation in shout-outs of all the great things happening in their lives. It was a startling deviation from the more formal nature of our traditional service. Not everyone loved it; however, each time, the congregation would come alive in the midst of all that joy and sharing. The hymns had more energy. The coffee hour that followed was more warm. The whole sanctuary just seemed lighter.

There was plenty of time later to get serious, and to pray on the sadder stuff.

My “vote” was for that guy. He didn’t get the gig, but he left me with a lasting impression about the power of engaging groups around “joy.”

Joy at Work?

People like to talk about good stuff, and are not frequently asked. Folks are carrying around all kinds of things that make them happy (and sad). Of course, it’s just not cool to go busting into a room and say, “Guess what is happening to me! I am so happy or lucky or proud.” And yet, when asked, the joys flow freely and the joy becomes contagious.

People wait to be asked.

So why don’t we ask more?

If in any gathered group there are joys, it stands to reason that at work there are people with joy they might be delighted to share.

Mining For Joy

I recently opened up a large conference by asking everyone to stand up who had “something significant and positive happen to them in the last year.”

The energy was palpable.

This crowd had some big joys: babies, graduations, new homes, successful risks, marriages, overcoming major health issues, substantial weight loss. We began in joy and the energy carried us through the more intense and serious work ahead.

This technique also works in smaller groups.

Here are a few opening lines that work well. Of course, it’s important that this is voluntary, with no pressure to share..

  • What’s something great happening in your life right now?
  • What’s the best thing that happened this week?
  • What’s going well?
  • What makes you amazing at your job?
  • What are you most thankful for?
  • Who would you like to recognize on the team before we start
  • Who’s got some good news?
  • …???

Sharing joy can bring a team closer, shift a mood, and provide perspective.

How to Have a More Powerful Development Conversation

For a variety of reasons, many manager/employee relationships stay formal, cordial, and don’t realize their full potential. The conversation stays focused on the work at hand, and hopefully there is some discussion of strengths and development needs, along with a plan to improve on them. There is often real reluctance to go deeper.

Why?

Choices, fear, time, professional boundaries. I’ll give you a minute to complete the list____, ____, _____, _____. Real can be scary.

And yet, some relationships seem to bust past the normal conversational fare. The query goes deeper and the outcome is amazing. Real can be vital.

I have debated this with leaders from across a variety of organizations and contexts. My leadership choice is err on the side of going deeper, unless I pick up real signals to the contrary.

5 Real Conversations Worth Having

So you want to go deeper, but you don’t want to cross any inappropriate boundaries. Where do you start? Here are a few topics that open up the door for deeper trust and broader development.

My Big Dream

Most development conversations focus on potential next steps, or the 5 year plan. What other big dreams are your employees holding in their hearts? What do they want to become? What’s on their bucket list? Is there any way to build some related work or skills into their current job? It’s motivating to be working on your big dream, even in baby steps.

What Motivates Me

Just asking is a good start. However, you can also learn a lot through observation. Paying attention can give you insights that will serve as excellent fodder for a deeper dialogue. When do you see them “skipping to work?” A starter “you seem really excited about this project what aspects make it most meaningful for you?”

What Scares Me

This one’s more tricky. And, it’s not on the short list for new relationships. However, as your relationship deepens, getting underneath fear and uncertainty can go a long way in helping someone to grow. Facing fears leads to confidence and competence.

What I Really Need from You

An important one to ask from the beginning of a new relationship. The trick is to keep asking as the relationship matures.You will likely get a more real answer as the trust increases.

What Matters To Me More Than This Job?

Really? Yup. I wouldn’t ask it just that way but what do they care deeply about their children? their church? their hobbies? their aging parents? their health? Knowing what really matters is vital. A little knowledge can go a long way in making you a more supportive leader.

These conversations evolve over time and won’t work best in one sitting, but bringing them in gently as the relationship evolves can go a long way to building trust, development and inspiring best work.

A Matter of Trust: Why I Trust You, Why I Don't

Developing real trust takes time. The people we lead come to us with history, memories, and experiences–they recall times of trust inspired and trust betrayed. When we are in a new gig, our teams watch even more closely.

  • “Can I trust you?”
  • “How do you talk to your boss?”
  • “Are you like the last guy?”

When we have been with a team longer, our teams have real perceptions and interpretations of our actions.

  • “Is this a pattern?”
  • “Does she always have my back?”
  • “How does he act under stress?”
  • “How is she treating everyone else?”

After years of leading, being led, coaching leaders, reading employee surveys, and hanging out with leaders here’s my best summary of what inspires or destroys trust.

“Why I Trust You”

Because you

  • let me know where I stand
  • share information
  • back me up
  • help me learn from mistakes
  • share how you make decisions
  • treat other people well
  • do what you say you will
  • understand what makes me tick
  • have my best interests in mind
  • admit when you are wrong
  • encourage dissent

Why I Don’t

Because you

  • let politics trump logic
  • withhold information I need
  • talk about me behind my back
  • break commitments
  • keep changing your mind
  • react without understanding
  • don’t get to know me
  • ignore me

What are you doing to develop trust within your teams?

A Matter of Trust: Why I Trust You, Why I Don’t

Developing real trust takes time. The people we lead come to us with history, memories, and experiences–they recall times of trust inspired and trust betrayed. When we are in a new gig, our teams watch even more closely.

  • “Can I trust you?”
  • “How do you talk to your boss?”
  • “Are you like the last guy?”

When we have been with a team longer, our teams have real perceptions and interpretations of our actions.

  • “Is this a pattern?”
  • “Does she always have my back?”
  • “How does he act under stress?”
  • “How is she treating everyone else?”

After years of leading, being led, coaching leaders, reading employee surveys, and hanging out with leaders here’s my best summary of what inspires or destroys trust.

“Why I Trust You”

Because you

  • let me know where I stand
  • share information
  • back me up
  • help me learn from mistakes
  • share how you make decisions
  • treat other people well
  • do what you say you will
  • understand what makes me tick
  • have my best interests in mind
  • admit when you are wrong
  • encourage dissent

Why I Don’t

Because you

  • let politics trump logic
  • withhold information I need
  • talk about me behind my back
  • break commitments
  • keep changing your mind
  • react without understanding
  • don’t get to know me
  • ignore me

What are you doing to develop trust within your teams?