Prerequisites for Better Teams

February 6, 2016

The culture of a team governs its effectiveness. Most teams have a culture that allows adequate performance despite many unfortunate outbreaks of tension and sometimes childish behavior.

It is unfortunate that more teams don’t experience the exhilaration of working in a supportive culture that produces excellent results. The methods of building teams into high performing units are well documented, but most teams do not go through the rigor required to get to that level.

This article blends well known processes with horse sense born of experience that will allow any team to perform better.

In 1965, Bruce Tuckman described four stages that every team goes through. They are Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.

A critical time for any team is when it is forming. This is when the team is trying to figure out its role and goals. Members are not sure of their status or contribution at this point, and personal bonding is a key element to the eventual success of the team.

It is advisable for the group to go offsite for some initial teambuilding activities. Many leaders avoid this step because often team building activities involve a kind of game atmosphere that does not feel like “work.”

In fact, team building is real work that may be fun at the moment, but it is deadly serious business that can result in millions of dollars of profit if done well or millions of dollars in damage control if not done at all.

During the storming phase, there is some kind of power struggle where members vie for position and influence. It is up to the team leader to help the team move quickly through this awkward time.

Usually the storming stage is short simply because it is painful. People want to get out of the rut of consternation and move on to getting the work done.

It is in the norming phase that the team decides the degree of effectiveness it will ultimately enjoy. If individual and team behaviors are agreed upon with conviction, the team will immediately begin to perform with excellence.

Included in this phase is identifying the individual skills brought to the team by the diversity of talent in the group, the goals of the team, the ground rules of expected behavior, and the consequences of failing to comply with team expectations.

The three most basic things required for any team to become a high performing unit are

1) A common goal,

2) Trust, and

3) Outstanding Leadership.

If these building blocks are in place, all of the rest of the team dynamics (like excellent communication) will sort themselves out.

If any of these elements are missing, the team will sputter and struggle to meet expectations. A key rule fostered by most teams that is most often compromised is to treat each member with respect. There is a kind of disease that sets in most teams where members subtly undermine each other.

People often make jokes in team meetings. Keep your antenna up and you will discover that, for most groups, the majority of jokes are sarcastic digs about other people in the room. Everyone knows they are only jokes, and they laugh, but deep down some damage is done.

Smart groups have a conscious norm that they will enjoy humor in meetings but never make a joke at someone else’s expense. It may seem like a small thing, but over time this practice can really help improve the function of any team.

Team respect is easy to accomplish. The leader just needs to set the expectation and remind people when they slip up. In coaching some groups with a particularly bad habit on this, I have suggested that any time a person makes a joke that is a dig, he or she has to put $5 in a kitty. The money is used later by the group for a party. This small change can actually change the entire culture of a team.

Now that you are sensitized to this issue, just keep track in a few meetings with some hash marks on a piece of paper. You will be astonished how pervasive this problem is and also how certain people are addicted to the practice. Then, solve the problem and begin enjoying the benefits of better teamwork.

I have coached hundreds of teams, and I find that there are patterns that lead to success and other patterns that lead to extreme frustration and failure. There is one condition that rises above all the others when it comes to dysfunctional teams.

When some members of the team believe other members are not pulling their fair share of the load, the team is going to have major problems. Unfortunately, this situation is so common, it is almost universal, yet there is a simple cure that is about 95% successful at preventing this condition or stopping it if it happens.

The cure is to have an agreed upon Charter for the team upfront before behavior problems surface.

During the forming stage of a team, there is an opportunity to document several critical parameters of how the team will operate. These include:

1. A list of the talents and skills each member of the team can contribute
2. A set of solid, measurable performance goals for the team
3. A set of agreed-upon behaviors that the members pledge to follow
4. A statement of the consequences that will occur if a member fails to live up to the behaviors.

When teams take the time at the start to document these four items, the chances of success are much higher than if this step is omitted. The most powerful item is #4, and it is the one that is most often omitted from a charter.

The reason it has power is that when the team is forming, usually all members have good intentions to pull their weight for the good of the team. If they agree that letting the team down by slacking off and having others pick up the slack will result in some unhappy consequence (like being voted off the team, or having no points on an assignment, or having to do extra clean up work, or some other penalty) they are far less likely to practice what is called “social loafing.”

If they are tempted to goof off, then the penalty they have already agreed to is quickly applied, and the bad behavior is immediately extinguished.

Most teams without a good charter end up with the frustration of having one or more people believing they are unfairly doing more than their fair share of the work. When a good charter spells out the expected behaviors and the penalty for non-compliance before the team experiences a problem, it greatly reduces this most common of all team maladies.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Every Day Matters

January 30, 2016

There is a saying that has been kicked around for years: “It is the Super Bowl every day.” So many people have used it, I cannot trace who said it first.

There is even a Twitter hash tag that uses the phrase as a portal. One author added the concept that in life there are no time outs. In this chapter, I wanted to expand on these concepts and look inside the locker room of life.

The concept of each day being the Super Bowl simply refers to the importance of living every day as if it is the most important day we have. Intellectually, we realize that some days are more important than others.

I may kick back for a day and do absolutely nothing productive or important all day (and sometimes getting needed rest is the most productive thing to do), yet to waste a day, or even an hour, is to squander our most important resource in life.

The two things that make something precious are inherent value and scarcity. By those two factors “time” is incredibly valuable because 1) it is all we have, and 2) nobody can get more than 24/7.

That condition is like the Super Bowl. It has a start time and an end time, but in the case of life, there are no reruns and no time outs. The game proceeds only forward and has a finite end.

Of what value is thinking in these dimensions? We often forget the fleeting nature of life, because most of us think we have decades yet to live. That is enough time to achieve numerous accomplishments and build lasting relationships.

Each day, each increment of time, seems insignificant, like a drop in the ocean. It is a mistake to think that way, because once a day is spent, it is gone forever. It is like another grain of sand dropping to the bottom of the hourglass of our life.

But life is not just about doing things. It is about enjoying what we do and building relationships that matter. It is the emotional connection we have with loved ones, not the things we have accomplished or acquired, that occupy our final thoughts as we prepare to leave this world.

I think the analogy of the Super Bowl works here as well. We do not play the game of life alone. We are on a team, surrounded by people we love, who help us play our best game possible.

We have coaches and support people who fix us up when we fall and help us rise to be our best in the game of life. It is how we treat others that determines how well the team plays together. If trust, respect, and love are carried in our hearts, the team will be a strong winning group.

One thing that every human on the planet shares is the knowledge that one day he or she is going to die. If you remember the movie, “Dead Poets Society,” that concept is what Mr. Keating (played by Robin Williams), was trying to instill in the freshmen at the Helton Prep School. It was the notion of “Carpe Diem,” or “seize the day.”

You may recall the riveting scene where Keating had the students line up and look in the trophy case at the pictures of former athletes who were dead and gone: their Super Bowl over.

He pointed out that the only difference between the boys he was addressing and the deceased athletes in the pictures was that the boys were alive that day. What a powerful scene!

See Video story about how the “Carpe Diem” scene saved a strategy meeting

I bring up the concept of carpe diem at the end of every leadership class I teach. I believe it is the responsibility of each of us to approach each day as if it was Super Bowl Sunday, and we are in the game.

Sure, there is time for rest and recuperation, just as winded athletes can sit out a few plays, but even as we rest, the game is still going on.

The good news is that there really is time for most of us to improve our game plan. It takes work, but it is rewarding to modify the future plays to obtain a more successful outcome. We can always foster better relations with the people we love and have more fun.

Every day is the start of a new game. Trust yourself, trust your “team,” and trust that life is playing out in a way that will eventually lead you to reach the goals you have set. The choice is up to each one of us every day. Make the right choice.

Key Concepts for this article
1. Today is the most important day you have.
2. The game always moves forward.
3. There are no time outs—the clock is always ticking.

Exercises For today
1. Intentionally break into your stream of consciousness at least once a day and ask yourself where you are right now. Are you sitting on the bench or are you playing in the game?
2. Are you happy with the job you did on the last play?
3. Do you have a good plan for your next play?
4. How are you treating your teammates who are helping you play the game?
5. Right now, are you playing offense or defense?
6. You have a general idea how much time is on the clock, but what if a fatal blow takes you out of the game early?
7. Have you made the most of the opportunities you have had along the way?
8. What will the spectators and your teammates remember about you and your life when it is over?
9. Visualize a time when you performed at an awesome level. Try to identify what forces enabled that level of performance. This is your personal prescription for greater zest in life.


Important Tip for Leader Transitions

January 23, 2016

No leadership position is permanent. There is always a transition to a new role coming in the future. This article is about a mistake I have seen many leaders make in the transition to a new role.

Maybe this leadership tip is in a book somewhere, but I have not run into it yet. A mistake is made during the delicate time when a leader is assigned a new position and first moves into a new area interfacing with different people.

The first few days are critical and set the stage for how smoothly (or not) the transition goes. All signals sent during the first days and weeks are important as both the leader and the new constituents learn how to work together.

For illustration, let’s say our leader has just been moved from the Design Department into the Manufacturing Department. The new job is in a new physical area and has a different set of people involved.

The old leader has retired and left the scene, and our new leader has just brought in the first few boxes of possessions to set up his office. He is cordial to everyone and believes he is off to a great start.

This is an important job for the new leader, and he wants to carry on the fine team enthusiasm he was able to accomplish in the Design Department.

During the first couple days, he attends the normal production meetings. He frequently mentions how delighted he is to now be working in the Manufacturing Department.

When a manager is discussing a safety issue, the new leader offers something like this, “We had the same problem over in the Design Department, and what we did was set up a sub-team to come up with some excellent recommendations. That saved a lot of time because it could be done off line by a small group rather than have a bunch of meetings with everyone present.” People in the meeting listened intently and nodded appreciatively that there was a fresh idea.

The next day, the leader was discussing the financial closing information and seemed a little uncomfortable. He said, “In the Design Department we always just showed the data in chart form so everyone could grasp the information easily.” Two hours later he said “In the Design area we had special monitors to ensure the place was cleaned up well before we went home.” You get the idea.

All of the ideas and policies our new leader brought up during the first two weeks were logical and helpful. Nobody in the organization would dare question why they should do these things that the leader brought from the Design Department.

However, by the end of two weeks, this new leader was so far behind the eight ball emotionally with people that it would take nearly a year to get people to really respect and trust him. Why? He was just too forthright with his innocent suggestions for improvements based on his experience in the prior job.

There is an antidote to this common problem. When I would promote or move a manager, I would ask him or her to refer to the prior job only one time in public.

Once that chit was played, I suggested the new leader refrain from other references for at least 2 months.

This gave the new leader the opportunity to appreciate the good things that were being done in the new area before giving a lot of suggestions for them to be more like his old area. The people never knew the difference; they just seemed to like the new guy quite a lot.

To refrain from offering suggestions based on one’s background sounds counterproductive, but it can go a long way toward knitting constructive relationships in the new area.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Enjoy Life

January 16, 2016

How do you feel about being you? Be truthful with yourself, and think about how much you like yourself right this moment. In this article, I hope to shock you into a different frame of mind relative to your happiness and the quality of your life.

There are numerous things that gauge the level of satisfaction and happiness we milk out of living. This article focuses on one’s perception of self.

Most of us are in the middle of a long progression of the days of our lives. It feels like we have been around forever, and we have a long way to go before somebody puts us in a pine box.

We live each day reacting to the forces and challenges that hit us. Some days are good, and others are bad.

We are what we are because that is what we have chosen to be. Many people go through life being unhappy with themselves and blaming others or circumstances (like if I only had smaller ears).

We have such a short time on this planet, and it would be smart to be happy with ourselves first and foremost. I suppose plastic surgeons will be applauding that statement, thinking I am advocating that people reshape their physical configuration to be more “perfect.” The opposite is true. Just like Fred Rogers used to say to other people, “I like you just the way you are,” we need to say that to ourselves many times a day.

Nobody else has to wake up with you and be with you 100% of the time, so if you are not happy with yourself, the quality of your precious life is diminished. Who would be responsible for that? Hmmm… Let me think.

My observation of our lives in the grand scheme of the universe and the ages is that human beings are all like little worms. We have to go up only a few miles and look down through a telescope, and we can observe us all wiggling around all over the world as we move through our days.

We show up and wiggle around for a fleeting 80 or so years, and then we are gone. Eighty years in celestial time is hardly a blink. We’d better make sure we are enjoying our wiggles. The possessions that we covet, the money that we lust after make very little difference in the end. All that matters is

1) how much love we have generated,
2) how much of an impact we have managed to have on others, and
3) how much we have enjoyed our wiggle.

What are some of the things that contribute to enjoying the wiggle of life? Here are a few examples. (Note: this list is not exhaustive.)

Making a contribution: We all make contributions: both good and bad. If we have provided one shred of thought that has been recorded and provided value to other people, we have made a contribution. Two shreds counts for double that value, so provide many shreds of value to the advancement of society.

Finding honest love: If we feel deeply in our soul that we have loved the people in our lives, then we go to our grave reflecting on a life well lived. This, of course, includes family, but it also includes heroes, mentors, classmates, pets, friends, grocers, ducks, lamps, books, and any other person or thing that we truly love.

The most important person to love is yourself. You need to trust yourself as well because otherwise you cannot love yourself. Without self love, then you are living a sham of a life, going through the motions but not getting the zest out of your life experience.

Believing in an infinite power: Many people think of this as religion, but it really covers the entire realm of spiritual awareness.

I do not know about you, but I really do believe that something is guiding my steps at times, and it is not just me. There have been too many remarkable surprises handed to me in life for me to take credit for thinking them up or for them to be just random coincidences.

Whatever we call it, there is an Infinite Presence there somehow. As we make our way through life trusting in the rightness of our path and the guidance of our steps, it gives us the confidence to go through the valleys of life and the motivation to keep going when all seems lost.

This is another form of trust. It is trust that we are never on this journey alone. Recall the parable of two sets of footprints in the sand. One set was the person and the other was God’s. All of a sudden one set stopped and the other continued. The person asked God why he had abandoned him in his hour of need. God said, “Oh my precious child, the times when there was only one set of foot prints are the times I was carrying you.”

Click link to view Video – Story of a lost job that probably saved my life

Helping others: Whenever we give of ourselves to help another, we feel great about ourselves. That effort is a really good wiggle in our daily routine.

The help can come in any form, and the only criterion is that at that time we were thinking more about the other person’s situation than our own. The help could be financial, physical, emotional, or even comical.

This is also where we extend our trust to other people, and they invariably reflect that trust back to us, thus enhancing the relationship.

Making something: To create a thing of beauty, or even ugliness, since beauty is subject to interpretation, is a good wiggle. Some people are really good at this, like my father, who painted over 2000 fine watercolor paintings after the age of 55.

Some people create great food or fine woodwork. I tend to get jazzed when making stained glass art.

To shape the elements into a new configuration that has never been done is intrinsically rewarding. Most creations are not marketable, but they are physical evidence that we were around and wiggling happily.

When we create something, we are demonstrating trust in our own instincts to reconfigure one corner of the world in a way that has never been done before and that may have some value to others.

Teaching or mentoring: As we seek to impart some of our wisdom to other people, we give the gift of knowledge. It is a subset of helping others, but this one is special, because we target the help on an individual who benefits from it.

A person with great insight and knowledge who keeps it to himself really wastes his wiggle time. I think it is really difficult to mentor from the grave, although some people do believe strongly in doing it or receiving it, which is part of their own wiggle.

The protégé must trust that the mentor has the intent to teach what is in his or her best interest. Learning does not occur without some level of trust.

Appreciating what you experience: This attitude is all about not being numb to the beauty all around us every day. Seeing the small acts of kindness of one person toward another brings us joy. Marveling at the beauty of a flower, the taste of raspberry Jell-O®, or the Bach B Minor Mass can provide deep joy, but only if we are awake and paying attention.

Loving what you do: The ability to look at each day as an adventure into the possible instead of the drudgery of our current agony is what lifts us up. Hope is there when you enjoy your work and your play. There is a choice you make every day as you wiggle through it.

Those are just eight examples of how to make the most out of your 80-year wiggle. Who knows, you might beat the odds and wiggle until you are older than 100, or you might check out in your 20s.

You will notice the absence of wealth or possessions on my list, because I think those things dry up and blow away very quickly after we stop wiggling.

In the grand scheme of the world and the eons of time, the only thing that really matters is what you did with your opportunity to wiggle, not how big a pile of clutter you were able to generate.

Having many years to operate and be happy makes life seem like a long adventure, but if you talk to anyone in a nursing home, you will be told the same thing; the time went by so quickly.

Just like the Lyrics in the song “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney, “Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife. Don’t blink”

So, the trick is not to focus on enjoying your whole life, but making sure you approach each and every day recognizing it is the only day you have to make a difference.

If you manage each day correctly, then the years will go well. If you lose precious time wishing for a future windfall or living in the past, then the joy of living will escape. The only day any of us ever have is today. Every day matters.

Key Concepts in this article:

1. Life is shorter than we think.
2. We are in control of our own happiness and motivation.
3. We need to pay attention in order to enjoy life to the fullest.
4. Happiness is a frame of mind we can all enjoy.

Exercises that may be helpful to you:

1. Assess on a scale of 1-10 how much you are enjoying your wiggle today. Why did you give yourself this score?
2. Over the past few years, has your enjoyment in life increased or decreased? Why? In what ways can you increase your enjoyment in the future?
3. Write out a list of the three most important objectives you need to accomplish in the next 3 months to improve your personal satisfaction with your wiggle.
4. Start a journal about how you are enjoying your ride. Be honest with yourself (why lie?) and if not satisfied, then create a resolve to change the vector
5. Ask a loved one to describe how he or she sees you in terms of enjoying your wiggle. Reason: often we are not aware of how much we complain about our problems.


We Really Have a Choice

January 9, 2016

Just for a moment, take a guess at what percentage of the world’s population woke up today with a mindset of peace and happiness.

If you think carefully about all of the people who don’t know if they will have anything to eat today, or those who are bent on destroying other people, whether it be in an organized group or with some kind of substance abuse, your estimate might be pretty low.

If you include those who haven’t a clue how they are going to survive financially or physically, and if you include those who must steal in some way from others in order to survive today, you might lower your estimate further.

As I pondered the question at length, my own estimate is that less than 20% of the people currently living on earth are actually living wholesome, constructive, and full lives.

Most people are trying to exist in a perpetual struggle as they cross off each day and draw one day closer to their grave.

Even in the richest and most productive country on the planet, a large portion of the population focuses on survival at the most basic level with little hope or optimism for a rewarding life, or they buy guns for the purpose of killing others or for protecting themselves (which is another way of saying killing others). I think it is really sad.

Now let’s flip to the other extreme. Every time a new human infant pops out of the womb, think about the potential that has been created in that little package. Every soul has the potential to become someone of significant positive value to the world.

What are the odds that a particular infant will grow up to be a Mother Theresa or a Nelson Mandela? I think you will agree the odds are infinitesimal, so nearly all of the wonderful potential that is born with each new baby is somehow blunted to the point that the person has no real chance of being a productive human being.

Now let me bend your mind a bit more. If you are one of the fortunate few people that live a comfortable and productive life, how can you use your extreme good fortune to make a difference?

You and I have a choice to just enjoy our luck as we take one more step toward our last day, or we can do our best to actually make a difference in the world. Oh I know, it seems like lunacy to actually try to make a difference because the problems are so immense, so we shrug our shoulders and go for hedonism.

It reminds me of a line from an old song by Buffy Sainte-Marie, “Ah what can I do say a powerless few, with a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, can’t you see that their poverty’s profiting you?”

There is no solution to this musing and no magic wand to wave that will have a noticeable impact. I just wanted to take a moment at the start of 2016 to remind myself that the choice of what I am doing with my gifts is really mine. I need to step up to the realization that if I decide to make a small change in the world, that is a good thing; and if enough of us do some good things, the aggregate impact may be large enough to notice.

So, I rededicate myself to helping to grow leaders in every way I know how to do it. That is the gift I bring to the world and my reason for living.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


8 Ways to Know if You Are a Great Leader

January 2, 2016

You may be a good leader, or possibly a great leader, or you may be an awful leader. One thing is clear: your own opinion of your worth as a leader is not to be trusted.

In my consulting work, I have met numerous people in leadership positions who believe they are way above average only to find out that they are not at all living up to people’s expectations or certainly to their own potential.

I have studied the traits of leaders for over 30 years and read enough books to put Rip Van Winkle to sleep. I have studied leadership from the inside out and the outside in.

This education has led me to conclude that there are signposts or primary indicators of people who are elite leaders.

It is fine to take the endless stream of leadership surveys, but you can be fooled. I became weary with taking 3-4 different surveys each year in the corporate world, because many of them had major flaws and often missed the true essence of leadership.

I got so fed up that I made up my own leadership survey that has been used by thousands of people. But any survey has the flaw of being either filled out by the person being measured, or some 360 degree sample of people within the leader’s circle.

While the surveys can sort out the worst of the worst or give adequate leaders a false sense of security, I think the eight indicators listed below are more useful and easier to decipher.

Do you want to know if you are a great leader? Answer these eight questions honestly.

1. Are you a magnet for high potential people?

Great leaders are so much fun to be around and to work for that the very best people are clamoring for a chance to work for them. If you are leading an organization where good people are looking to leave, then the signal is clear as a bell.

Do not read this wrong. Good leaders can be found in all kinds of situations, many of which are very stressful or unpleasant, but the smart people stay with them because they are learning and growing despite the ordeals. Great leaders are eternally passionate about developing people (including themselves).

2. Are you having the most fun of your life?

Poor leaders struggle against the demands of the job. They are constantly on guard because everything needs to be optimized to work perfectly. They sense that people are ready to pounce on any misstep, so they worry about exactly how to spin any piece of news.

Great leaders are relaxed and having a ball just being themselves and performing at a high rate without fretting about being perfect. They are more focused on growing other leaders and doing what they believe is right.

When they make a misstep, they learn from it and move on. Great leaders are happy people, while poor leaders are bundles of nerves!

3. Do you live the values at all times?

It is amazing how so many leaders have taken the time to document the values for their organization, but when asked point blank if they follow those values every day, end up stammering something like, “well, we always try to do that.”

If circumstances or short term urgencies cause leaders to waffle and rationalize behaviors that are not consistent with the values, people see the hypocrisy and know the lofty words are good for when conditions are right, but not for everyday pressures. Hogwash!

The cauldron of every crisis and urgency is precisely when it is most important to model the values. Great leaders know and do this.

4. Do you continually invest in higher trust?

Trust is the lubricant that allows organizations to work amid the cacophony of seemingly conflicting friction and priorities. Real trust is influenced by the behaviors of the top leader more than any other single factor in an organization.

You would be surprised at how few leaders are able to step up to this ultimate reality. They would rather blame the workers, supervisors, customers, economy, the government, or hundreds of other factors rather than themselves for the problems they face.

The great leaders know trust depends on them and invest in it every single moment without failure.

5. Do you readily admit mistakes?

This one is a kind of acid test. In all my seminars, I ask if admitting an honest mistake builds or reduces respect for a leader. Nearly 100% of people agree that admitting mistakes increases respect.

The only caveat is that the mistake cannot be something done for a sinister intent or for repeated mistakes.

Since the vast majority of mistakes occur because things did not work out as we had intended, then admitting mistakes should be a no brainer.

Unfortunately, when the chips are down, few leaders actually have the capability to admit the mistake and instead try to find ways to deflect culpability.

In other words, most leaders often do what they intellectually know is the action that lowers respect.

6. Do you listen deeply?

Most leaders consider themselves good listeners. Unfortunately, the majority of leaders do a very poor job of listening. They are leaders, and that means they need to lead conversations and actions.

The true test of this is to monitor your verbal output as a percentage of the amount of listening you do. If your words going out are around 30% of what is coming in, then you are probably in good shape.

If you observe most leaders, their verbal output is around 3-4 times their listening. Great leaders pause!

7. Do you build a truly genuine reinforcing culture?

All leaders know that they can encourage more of a particular behavior if it is reinforced. Unfortunately many leaders fail to achieve a culture at all levels where people praise the efforts and successes of others.

The rules of good reinforcement are well known, but many leaders exude a kind of plastic reinforcement that is manipulative in its intent, and people see through the ploy instantly.

Oh, they will bask in the glow while drinking the Kool-aid, but they sense the insincerity underneath, so the reinforcement often creates a negative tone inside.

8. Do you hold people accountable the right way?

In nearly all organizations, holding people accountable is a kind of “gotcha” activity where the person in charge reiterates the expectation followed by a scolding and how it is necessary to do better in the future.

The dilemma is that most people, on most days, are doing good or excellent work, yet they are held “accountable” only when they mess up.

If we changed the paradigm such that people were held accountable for the positive things as well as the shortcomings, it would change the entire equation. I call this skill “holding people procountable.”

There are literally thousands of leadership behaviors that make up the total performance characteristics for any leader.

I believe if you can honestly answer “YES!” to all eight of the above questions, you are one of the elite leaders of our time. Congratulations!

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


The Power of Trust in Your Life

December 19, 2015

Every human being goes through the same ritual when confronting death. You look at your life and try to make some sense of your precious short duration in the physical world.

If you can identify several relationships of trust and love with the people in your life, you will close your eyes and take your last breath in peace.

If you have squandered the opportunities to create the spirit of trust with people, you will die a lonely and bitter soul. It is for each of us to decide how we experience those final few seconds of our existence.

The pile of clutter we have generated during our years of existence will not matter much at that point. As we pass from the physical to the spiritual world, the quality of our life will boil down to the relationships of trust and love we have nurtured.

We each have a choice to make every day. I advocate we invest in the relationships and be worthy of the trust of others. I suggest that the best way to generate trust is to extend it to others.

In an organization, trust is the lubricant that allows all of the leadership functions to be effective. It is created by having a safe environment where people can express themselves without fear.

With trust, groups will be productive and happy. Without trust, you will find disengaged people who simply do not care about the goals of the organization.

Vow today to invest in the relationships you have and can create with other people. Put a high premium on this commodity called trust. The more you invest in the things that build trust, the richer your life will be.

Never, never, never intentionally destroy trust.

I have decided to dedicate the last 20-30 years of my life helping to educate as many people as possible on the merits of trust in their lives and how to obtain more of it.

I hope you have enjoyed these articles, based on my “Building Trust” Video Program, over the past few months and that my ideas have made a difference for you.

We each decide for ourselves how to live our lives. I hope you realize the impact that more trust will have in the quality of your life. The more of it you have, the more satisfaction you will experience.

This is the last in the series that was derived from a video program entitled “Building Trust,” a 30 part series by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.” To view three short (3 minutes each) examples at no cost go to http://www.avanoo.com/first3/517


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