Leadership Barometer 78 Handle Crises

January 21, 2021

There are hundreds of assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. You can spend a lot of time and money taking surveys to tell you the quality of your leadership.

There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. These are not good for diagnosing problems or specifying corrective action, but they can tell you where you stand quickly. Here is one of my favorite measures.

Handle Crises

One easy way to measure the caliber of a leader is to observe him or her in a crisis. Great leaders take command, but do so in a special way that weaker leaders try unsuccessfully to emulate.

In the first place they have the ability to diffuse internal crises and avoiding a kind of mob scene where workers gang up on the leader.

Secondly in an increasingly fragmented or virtual workforce, the ability to see a crisis coming is much more of a challenge.

Great leaders increase their communication with people who are working remotely to identify issues while they impending or very small.

The distinction begins even before the crisis is evident. It is a mindset.

Average leaders take a rest when things are going smoothly. They focus on the little fires and beat them down so they do not spread.

Other than that, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the mentality. We might as well enjoy the way things are going, since it is smooth sailing.

Plan for Future Problems

By contrast, the great leader sees the world as a series of calm times and storms, some of them hurricanes. The calm times are opportunities to sharpen our skills and reactions for the next storm. For sure, it will come, so we ought to be looking at our past successes or failures in prior storms to get ready for the next one.

In business, the magnitude or timing of the next storm is far less predictable than in nature. For example, in late summer, we can expect several hurricanes to crop up in the Atlantic and work their way toward the mainland U.S.

Once they form, computer models can predict, with various levels of accuracy, the strength of the storm and if, when, and where the storm will come ashore.

Most crises in business are less predictable. Some trends can be tracked, but usually the big disruptive events are things that are impossible to forecast.

For example, if we are manufacturing aircraft, we can plot the seasonality and long-term trends, attempting to anticipate peak loads. Then, a fire in the factory causes a crisis that is a total surprise.

The impact of the crisis on our business dwarfs anything we had been planning based on market projections, yet we are forced to deal with it immediately.

Also, note that when people are working from different locations, it is much harder to keep an eye on everything.

Problems may kindle from afar and grow into major disruptions before knowledge of them is evident to everyone. That is why additional communication is vital.

Leaders need to develop closer ties with remote workers than they might have had in the full office environment to keep two-way information flowing. It is tempting for people to “disappear” into their work and not want to “bother” the leader with issues.

When leaders work to develop these closer ties, it facilitates working together well during a crisis.

During the Storm

Once the crisis hits, the average leader becomes unglued for a while. There are so many things to do at once, and triage in the business world is often a neglected skill, so the leader wonders whether to call a meeting or let the front-line people work on the most urgent issues without interruption.

Communication channels have not been set up to handle the chaos, so instructions or intentions come through as garbled signals, especially for remote locations.

Think of the emergency responders in the World Trade Center after the first tower fell. Instructions were not getting through to all responders, and many additional lives were lost because of it.

The average leader somehow manages to deploy an effort to fight the situation, but it is often meager compared to the proportion of the disaster.

People wonder why there was not more specific leadership coming through when it was needed most.

Great Leadership Amid the Chaos

By contrast, the great leader has refined the procedures for communication and action ahead of time. Even though the exact nature of the crisis is not known, the preparation phase is an ongoing high priority.

There are often mock “fire drills” to practice damage control and hone communication procedures to be ready in case the real thing happens.

For example, a CEO might arrange to distribute a fake internal news release that a disgruntled customer is out on social media spreading false rumors about their products. This could force people to react with everything from retractions, to insurance negotiations, to legal briefings, to press statements, etc.

After practicing the mock disaster, they could hold a debrief meeting and might determine the internal communication between executives was practically nonexistent during the crisis. This debriefing effort needs to include all of the remote resources as well as those working in the central office.

All of the managers were doing their best to keep a lid on the damage, but the total effort was not well coordinated. This debrief would allow the team to design an information dissemination process so if a crisis ever surfaced, they would be in a far better position.

These preparatory actions are not rocket science, but they are usually neglected by weak leaders. The strong leaders take the time ahead of a crisis to get everyone prepared and thus come out a lot better when the real crisis hits; more preparation leads to less damage.

Strong leaders leverage the energy caused by a crisis so they end up better and stronger as a company than they were before the crisis occurred.



Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations.




Talent Development 23 Communication

January 18, 2021

Section 1.1 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Communication. Section A reads, “Skill in using communication strategies that inform and influence audiences.”

Communication is such a basic part of leadership that we often take it for granted. If you study the numerous employee satisfaction surveys that are taken around the world every year, it turns out that poor communication is often the most mentioned gripe for workers.

The Root Cause

I believe the basis for this problem is that leaders believe they have communicated if they have said or written something and people appear to have heard the verbal output or opened the note.

Unfortunately, communication has not happened until the majority of people fully understand the content. Sharing information verbally in a Town Hall Meeting (live or virtual) and telling people about the latest policy change is not fully communicating, but most leaders think it is adequate to get the job done.

In the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, Richard Edelman made an observation of a large shift in responses to the following question: “How many times in general do you need to hear something about a specific company to believe it is likely to be true?”

Edelman noted that prior to 2013 the most common response was one or two times. Starting in 2013, he saw a shift where most people responded three to five times. That was a major change that most leaders did not recognize or factor into their communication strategies. Of course, 2013 was a long time ago, but Edelman believes the bar for good communication remains at three to five times.

The implication is that leaders need to find creative and different ways of putting information out so people really grasp the meaning and believe it to be true.

Examples of Different Strategies

1. You can often involve people in the decision while it is still in the formative stage. If people have contributed to a decision, they are much more likely to support it.

2. The Town Hall format or webinar (which can be recorded) is one method of communicating to a large group what is about to happen, but we cannot stop there and think we have communicated.

3. Follow up with individual or small group meetings where people can relax and ask any questions they have.

4. Verify people have heard the real meaning by asking questions about what you just said.

5. Involve people emotionally in the content by asking their reactions to a decision or action.

6. When people tell you something relative to the decision, be sure to wear your “listening hat” and absorb the input deeply. Ask clarifying questions and use reflective listening techniques.

7. Consider that currently, and in the future, there will be a hybrid situation where some people will hear the content live and others will be virtual.

8. If part of the audience is international, take into account the time zone differences that may limit the coverage. You might consider recording an important message to be played at a more convenient time.

9. Put the information in writing either with a physical letter or an email, because some people need to read the material several times for it to sink in.

10. Consider texts or tweets to reinforce the messages and provide for dialog if there are questions, but recognize you will not reach all people with social networking.

11. Post the information on a bulletin board or on the internal company news channel or employee website.

12. Circle back a few days after an announcement to identify if there is a deep understanding of the implications of a decision.

You do not need to do all these steps for every decision, but do strive to have important announcements disseminated in three to five different ways for maximum understanding.

If leaders would put more energy into how they communicate with people, we could reduce the problem of people feeling that communication from their leaders is lacking.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.








Building Higher Trust 6 The Transactional Nature of Trust

January 15, 2021

Trust between people is transactional by nature. Think of it like a bank account. We have a balance of trust in each direction.

That balance is the result of all transactions that have happened in the past. Hopefully the account balance is positive.

Now, everything that transpires between the two individuals makes an impact on the balance.

If a trust “deposit” happens, then the balance has increased. If a “withdrawal” was what one person observed, then the balance for him or her goes down.

All day, every time we interface with another person the trust level is being modified on a moment-to-moment basis depending on what is going on. There may be deposits in both directions or withdrawals in both directions.

It is also possible that a deposit in trust from person A to person B results in a withdrawal of trust from person B to person A.

Recognize that many of these transactions are so small and fleeting that we hardly notice them at all. Even just the tone of voice on a phone call or some body language in a meeting will impact the trust level.

There is a very dynamic and complex system that is playing in the background 100 percent of the time.

If an action has a huge negative impact on trust for one person, then the account balance is overdrawn and it will take a lot of remedial work to bring the balance back to zero. In that case, numerous deposits in trust will be required before the balance starts to go up again.

The Five C’s of Trust

I believe that people are constantly observing each other to determine what I call the Five C’s of Trust. These conditions form the substance of the transactions that impact the trust balance. They are as follows:

Competence is about applied knowledge. Does the person display competence or is he or she prone to bumbling things frequently?

Character is about having integrity. Can you rely on the other person to do the right thing at all times?

Consistency is about being predictable. Can you count on the same reaction to a stimulus tomorrow that you see today? An inconsistent person leaves people guessing, and that does not build higher trust.

Congeniality has to do with whether the person is a pleasure when interacting with other people. A negative or judgmental person will usually have a negative impact on trust.

Care is about having empathy for other people. When we demonstrate that we care for other people, we are building higher trust.

We must recognize that external conditions may make the five C’s more difficult to demonstrate at times. For example, when COVID 19 struck, and most people had to work from home, it was more of a challenge to demonstrate consistency.

Many people were faced with taking care of children while trying to get their work done or attend a zoom meeting.

Recognize that the phenomenon of trust is not static; it changes with every transaction, no matter how small.

Bonus Video

Here is a brief video on The Transactional Nature of Trust.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 1000 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations


Leadership Barometer 77 Optimize Communication

January 12, 2021

There are hundreds of assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. You can spend a lot of time and money taking surveys to tell you the quality of your leadership.

There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. These are not good for diagnosing problems or specifying corrective action, but they can tell you where you stand quickly. Here is one of my favorite measures.

Optimize communication

All of us communicate all of the time. When you add the body language to what we say, there is a steady stream of communication all day, every day, so why does communication nearly always surface in the top two of every employee satisfaction survey as the most significant problem facing an organization?

The sad fact is that most leaders are not that good at communicating, even though they work very hard at it. Let’s first look at the problem form two vantage points.

The leader feels nearly overwhelmed with the need to communicate. In fact, the leader is communicating from the moment she logs on in the morning until she turns out the light exhausted at the end of the day.

All work is a steady stream of explaining what is happening, reinforcing good work, explaining how poor attitudes are not helping, discussing the new product roll out, etc. The challenge is compounded in recent times when a greater percentage of the work force is working remotely. Leaders need to redouble their efforts to communicate and use technology to be sure all people are informed, even if they are working remotely.

So, it is frustrating when people feedback that there is “never any communication” going on. Wow, what a slap in the face. Sometimes the opposite happens. There are a lot more emails in the COVID World. When people get too many emails, they can’t keep up and feel pestered or nagged.

From the worker’s perspective, the signals that are coming through are not consistent and often incomprehensible. They long for information in a format and frequency that computes to them. The messages workers hear are not the same ones sent by the leader.

There are frequent surprises where a vacuum in communication is followed by a “gotcha” announcement or people doing the wrong things.

The battle for excellent communication rages every day in every organization. Let’s take a look at some of the root causes of poor downward communication to uncover some opportunities for improvement.

1. Frequency 

The span between communication on key issues is trickier than meets the eye. The old rule of “the more the merrier” is really not the best policy.

When you constantly say the same message in the same format, eventually people tune it out, and you might better not have said anything because nobody is listening anymore.

Yet, the other extreme is worse, if your touch points are so infrequent that people have forgotten the context of the message, then they will listen and hear, but not understand. So, what is the antidote?

How do leaders find the sweet spot? You need to let feedback from people be the frequency control on your outgoing communication. Most of this feedback comes in body language – often in group settings in live or remote interfaces.

2. Boring Message 

I have seen really good leaders who tend to drone on in a monotone style that puts everybody to sleep. All the information is given, but everyone is zzzz’d out, so there is poor communication.

The best way to avoid this is to watch for the MEGO effect (short for My Eyes Glaze Over). When people get that look, (which is harder to detect accurately in a remote world), you need to stop and ask a question. Get the audience back with you.

Change the cadence, even use 5 seconds of silence to get the group conscious again. Get people up on their feet or engaged in a question for discussion among small groups. In virtual meetings, use the breakout rooms to accomplish this. The energy needs to be on a conscious level for people to grasp meaning.

3. Not What I Said 

Some people hear what they think you are going to say, even if you say something else. Their predisposition leaves them incapable of absorbing the actual words and meaning.

It reminds me of the old Archie Bunker quote, when he says to his wife, Edith, “The reason you don’t understand me, is because I’m talking in English and you’re listening in Dingbat!”

During any presentation, test with your audience if you are getting through the fog. If they are not with you, stop talking.

4. Too Complex 

In an effort to be complete with communications, many leaders are their own worst enemy. People can only absorb and internalize so much information at one time. Exactly how the information is conveyed has a lot to do with how much can be presented at any one time.

Make sure each communication effort has only two or three key points and these are repeated at least three times in the presentation.

Test afterward if people really understood those three key points. Use illustrations when possible and consider the different learning styles of your audience and where they are located.

5. Management Speak 

Leaders often talk in a kind of language I call “management speak.” They need to understand that the average shop floor person does not relate to ROI or references to Maslow.

Make sure your communication is on a level where people can readily grasp the message. However, be very careful to not “talk down” to people on the shop floor.

They are not dumb; in fact they are incredibly smart. They just use different words, and you need to use their language as much as possible when communicating messages to them.

Resist the temptation to “dumb down the message” so they can understand. Instead think of using the right language.

6. Shifting Messages 

It is not a static world, so a valid message on Wednesday may be the wrong one on Friday. The problem here is that leaders are cognizant of what transpired as the current message morphed into something different.

Unfortunately, the shop floor people are not up to speed on the shifting sands. Remote workers may have missed a key change that impacts everything. All they experience is a confusing message that is not consistent.

Actually, this problem is more pervasive than leaders recognize, and it is a key reason why there is such a disconnect.

The antidote is for leaders to be extremely cognizant of any small change in the message over time. Make sure you bring all people up to speed on the background for the change if you want them to grasp the true meaning.

7. Electronic Communication 

Leaders have shifted to a much higher percentage of communication via online means. It is not in the scope of this short article to go over all of the gremlins in this mode of communication.

It took me 300 pages in a book (“Understanding e-Body Language – Building Trust Online“) to describe how leaders fail to navigate the minefield of successful online communication.

Suffice to say this is an area of great peril. Unfortunately, most leaders think there is little difference between communicating face to face versus online. There is a huge difference (I outline 8 major differences in my book). An example may help here.

Most people view an email like a conversation. You have information coming in, you process it, and then send information out. Just a conversation, right? Wrong!

When we talk to people face to face, we are constantly modifying the message, cadence, body language, and the words based on the real-time feedback we are getting.

Online, there is no feedback while the message is being sent. It is all blind, and we have no way to correct things if we are off track. Thinking of online communication like a conversation is extremely dangerous. In Zoom or other remote platforms, it is far more difficult to read the body language of your audience.

8. Communicating at the Head Level

Good communication does not occur at the “head” level. Sure, we use the mouth to speak, the ears to hear, the brain to interpret, the eyes to see, etc.

Real communication is deep in the gut and the heart. When you have internalized the message fully, it goes well into the body.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have communicated with someone because you have talked and they appear to have heard it. Verify what was taken in at the gut level.

Those are just 8 ways of improving communication. Actually there are hundreds of them, this article only scratches the surface. But, if you focus on these few important considerations, you can really improve your communications with people at work.

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations.





Talent Development 22 Future Readiness

January 10, 2021

Section 3.8 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Future Readiness. Section A reads, “Knowledge of techniques to promote, support, and/or generate innovation and creativity, for example design thinking, brainstorming, and ideation.”

Creativity is essential for forward movement in any organization. Unfortunately, the tools to have high creativity are often not used well, so the end result is muted rather than brilliant.

One of the more misunderstood techniques to bring about creativity is brainstorming.

Do brainstorming right

The technique of “brainstorming” was developed by Alex Osborn in the year 1967. His book “Applied Imagination” laid out a specific set of rules for brainstorming sessions.

Rule 1 – go for a high number of ideas – He suggested that quantity was more important than quality when creating fresh ideas.

Rule 2 – suspend all judgment while coming up with the ideas. This is the rule that most groups find difficult to follow.

The concept of coming up with “wild” or “crazy” ideas allowed a spontaneous flow of new concepts. Even though most of them were impractical or stupid, there were some nuggets among them.

Osborn suggested that people in the group “hitchhike” or create variations of the ideas of others. In doing so, mutations of different ideas would often lead to an actual practical solution that could work.

Some interesting other techniques have come along that put the concept of brainstorming on steroids. One such invention was “Morphological Analysis.”

The Technique of Morphological Analysis

This concept uses brainstorming but in a way that forces the combination of concepts that we would not normally even consider. The technique was developed by Fritz Zwicky in 1969 at Cal Tech.

He would create a matrix of three or four different variables and present them on two axes. For example he might have objects on the x axis. I will use an example here of car, house, hammock, and brick. Then on the y axis he would identify some other concept, let’s say emotions. So, he might have chosen love, sorrow, fear, levity.

Now he would ask people to brainstorm several different ways you might imagine the intersection of the concepts. He would ask questions like “How can we use a car to create levity?” (answer: you might dress it up like a penguin) or “In what ways can we use a brick to create fear?” (answer: using a string, suspend the brick 20 feet above someone’s head and light a match).

The exercise would continue until all of the intersections or “boxes” were full of crazy ideas. Think about how you would use a hammock to generate sorrow. It really stretches the mind beyond the way we normally think.

Here is another technique to get more ideas using brainstorming in a slightly different way.

One, Two, Four, All

My friend David Finger studied the technique made popular by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz in a structure they call “Liberating Structures.” Here is how David describes how he uses the technique in his work.

Step 1: Define the question that will be answered. This question must be very specific so that everyone answers the same question without interpretation. One question I recently used was, “What feature of Zoom Breakout Rooms is your favorite?”. As you can see, the question is not a monumentally difficult one, in fact it should be one that EVERYONE can come up with an answer for, but that there is no one “right” answer.

Step 2: Ask each person to write down (this is important whether in-person or virtually) their best answer to the question. One answer per person, and it must be written down. (I generally just tell them that part of this process is that they must write it down; I don’t explain why. People comply with simple rules like that fairly quickly, if it’s not a complex instruction.) Maximum time for this is 1 minute.

Step 3: Each person will be paired with another person, and together they will share and discuss their ideas with each other. Within 2 minutes, they need to agree to move forward with ONE of their two ideas. The time limit is necessarily short so they just act without a lot of waffling. They need to decide and move forward.

Step 4: Each pair of people is now put together with another pair of people, and they will each share their agreed-upon move-ahead idea. The way I usually phrase this is, “Between the 4 of you, you have 2 ideas. Work as a team of 4 to decide which ONE idea is the best.” Also, each team of 4 will decide on who will present this one idea to the rest of the group after the decision is made. Maximum time 2 minutes to decide on one idea and assign a spokesperson.

Step 5: Each 4-person team’s spokesperson now reports their ONE idea in an all-participants session. (This is the “All” part.)

Step 6: You now have one top idea from each group of 4 people. Depending on the question and the objective, you can use multi-voting, weighted voting, etc. to choose the one idea to go forward. Alternatively, you can adopt all of the top ideas as things to work on.

The one, two, four, all technique works equally well in a virtual setting as it does in person, so this method of brainstorming may become more popular in the future as a larger portion of the workforce will likely be working from home.

Using an organized approach like the one, two, four, all technique or Morphological analysis creates a richer and more lively brainstorming session that allows the best ideas to move forward. Just remember to keep it light and have fun with your creativity sessions.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.



Building Higher Trust 5 Planting a Seed of Trust in the Frist 10 Seconds

January 6, 2021

Developing a full mature trust between people takes time, because people need to see consistent behaviors. However, it is possible and extremely powerful to plant a seed of trust with another person in just a few seconds.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book entitled “Blink” where he described how human beings have a remarkable ability to size one another up in just a few seconds.

He called these encounters “thin slices” after the phenomenon where if you slice something thin enough, you can actually see through it.

First Impressions

We take in a huge amount of data about another person in a few seconds, and it is all going on subconsciously.

We make an initial decision about the trustworthiness of an individual, and that first impression has everything to do with how quickly the relationship develops into full blown and lasting trust.

Observe the Body Language

The way we accomplish this remarkable feat is by observing the body language of the other person. Through several layers of data, we deduce how much this person can be trusted, and that initial feeling starts us out on a path to high or low trust.

The interesting thing is that most body language signals we send are done subconsciously. We may put on a smile consciously, but if it is not genuine, then the incongruent body language will send a signal for the other person to be on guard.

It is very difficult to manipulate your body language so you send consistent signals. If you are faking a genuine desire to meet the other person, it will show in numerous ways all over your body. The other person will pick it up on some level either consciously or subconsciously.

Eye Contact

One important consideration is eye contact.  You must maintain at least 70% eye contact when first meeting someone or else the seed of trust will not get planted.

If the seed of trust is planted well during the first 10 seconds, then the relationship will take off toward high trust at more than 10 times the rate than if the seed was not planted. That is a significant advantage for any relationship.

Bonus Video

Here is  a brief video on Planting a Seed of Trust



Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014).

In addition, he has authored over 1000 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.



Leadership Barometer 76 Build a Reinforcing Culture

January 3, 2021

There are hundreds of assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. You can spend a lot of time and money taking surveys to tell you the quality of your leadership.

There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. These are not good for diagnosing problems or specifying corrective action, but they can tell you where you stand quickly.

Here is one of my favorite measures.

Build a Reinforcing Culture

Leaders who are good at reinforcing others well end up gaining substantial leverage. Simply put, people tend to perform better if they feel appreciated. Since the days of Pavlov, we know that conditioning leads to improved actions, so this is no surprise.

Unfortunately, many leaders do not know or appreciate that reinforcement is a minefield. There are numerous ways to reinforce poorly. I have outlined these in my books and in other articles. Four categories of reinforcement mistakes are:

• Reinforcing with trivial trinkets too much
• Not being sincere with reinforcement
• Having timing and method not feel reinforcing to the receiver
• Applying reinforcement that is perceived biased and inequitable

For this article, I want to focus on the culture rather than just the reinforcement habits of the leader. It is one thing to avoid the pitfalls above as a single person. That action will have leverage, but it will not change the whole organization nearly as much as if the leader encourages everyone in the organization to become good at reinforcing.

What are some tips to allow this to happen?

Model good reinforcement yourself – always take the opportunity to make people feel good when they do good things. Do not rely on trivial gifts like t-shits and pencils. Use a variety of techniques and use simple verbal or written praise for most of this work.

Also recognize that the huge changes in the way we work made necessary during the COVID 19 pandemic will make the way we work different in the future.

We will never go back to the way we worked before 2020. It is most likely we will have a much larger percentage of the population working from home. In that case, the tangible reinforcements will have less of an impact and verbal or written praise will be even more important.

Talk about the technology and the pitfalls – discuss successes and failures openly. If an attempt at reinforcement backfires, hold a meeting to debrief what went wrong, how it can be corrected, and how it can be prevented in the future.

Reinforce people when they reinforce others – I know that reads like double talk or circular logic. The idea is that the leader needs to enhance the good feelings that people in the organization get when they take the time to say or write “thank you” to other people in the group.

I would always get back to someone who wrote a thank you note to a co-worker thanking him or her for the help or whatever. The essence of my note was to make the originator feel great about taking the time to recognize the good deeds of another person.

If you are interested in specific leadership assessments, click on the link.

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations.



Talent Development 21 Data and Analytics

December 30, 2020

Section 3.7 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Data & Analytics. Section A reads, “Skill in selecting and/or using data visualization techniques, for example flow charts, graphs, plots, word clouds, and heat maps.”

The old cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words is really true. This is especially true when a lot of data is involved or there is a level of complexity.

Trying to explain the relationship between different concepts can be tricky in words, but the mind can quickly absorb a large amount of data immediately in a picture and draw a conclusion. This clarity of thought saves a lot of time in training, and it helps to keep people fresh.

Death by PowerPoint

Many trainers practice “Death by PowerPoint,” where they show numerous slides with a lot of words and then read the words to the audience, sometimes turning their back on the audience to read the screen.  People zone out quickly.

A real example

Let me share an example of a picture being more powerful than a word description. I compared the level of trust in an entire organization from data gathered at different levels in the organization.

I measured trust as perceived by the top leaders in the organization, the middle managers, the supervisors, and the lead operators.

First I will try to describe my observations in words, then I will show that a quick glance at a chart makes the whole concept much easier to absorb.

I asked leaders at several levels in an organization to rate their company on how much trust there is. The rating was 1 = low trust and 10 = high trust.

I then noted that leaders at the top of the organization (senior leaders) rated trust much higher than lower levels. People at lower levels perceived less trust in the organization.

A strange anomaly

At the Supervisor and Group Leader levels, a curious “hole” in the data began to emerge in the area of 5-6.

I puzzled over this hole in the data for quite a while. I now believe that when confronted with the challenge to identify the level of trust on a scale of 1-10, most people immediately considered 5 or 6 to be “average” (whatever that meant to them).

Then they thought, “well, we are somewhat better or worse than average,” so that gave rise to a cluster of votes lower than 5-6 and a cluster that were higher.

That word picture is pretty difficult to follow and remember, but a chart showing the same data is rather easy to interpret. The digits represent the number of people at each level that voted for a particular trust rating.

A chart spells it out more clearly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you agree that this single diagram makes the complex situation much easier to understand and remember.

With the COVID 19 Pandemic of 2020, it is even more important to use visualization techniques. We are living in a hybrid world, with some people at the office and most people still working from home or satellite locations.  Even if the vaccines are effective in controlling the virus in the future, most futurists predict we will never go back to a full in-person workforce. 

There will likely always be a significant portion of people working from home. For these people, the ability to show concepts graphically will be increasingly important.

When you develop training programs, make sure to include visual aids that are easy to digest. Also, go easy on the number of words used to keep people from zoning out.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014).

In addition, he has authored over 1000 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.

 


Building Higher Trust 4 The Bilateral Nature of Trust

December 27, 2020

Trust between any two people goes in both directions. Rarely is the trust level exactly the same from one person to the other and vice versa.

Trust is also a highly dynamic condition. An activity or message may increase trust from A to B while simultaneously decreasing trust from B to A.

When two people are in a relationship, let’s say a marriage, the level of trust should be close in both directions. If one person has significantly lower trust in the other person for an extended period of time, the relationship is in real trouble.

Later in this series we will deal with the various ways trust is impacted and suggest ways to build higher trust consistently or repair damaged trust.

Lesson learned from a child

My daughter taught me a valuable lesson about trust when she was just four years old.

When I would come home from a trip across the country or to another continent, she would demand that I twirl her around and around. She kept me doing it until I would become so dizzy I could hardly stand.

I recall one time my wife walked into the kitchen and saw my condition. She asked, “How many martinis did you have on the plane?”

It was all very comical, but years later I realized that her trusting me to not drop her made it essential for me to not let her down.

If trust in one direction begets more trust in the reverse direction, we have a clue as to how we can build higher trust others have in us. Simply find some way to show more trust in them.

This is a simple philosophy of building higher trust that I call “The First Law of Trust.” Try it and you will see it really does work in most circumstances.

Bonus Video

Here is a short videoon the topic of Bilateral Trust



Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014).

In addition, he has authored over 1000 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.



Leadership Baromter 75 Make Good Decisions

December 23, 2020

There are hundreds of assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. You can spend a lot of time and money taking surveys to tell you the quality of your leadership.

There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. These are not good for diagnosing problems or specifying corrective action, but they can tell you where you stand quickly.

Here is one of my favorite measures.

Make Good Decisions

This measure sounds so trivial and axiomatic that you probably wonder why I list it at all. Unfortunately, many would-be great leaders make rather stupid decisions for one reason or another.

I often puzzle at how it is possible for a leader to do something that takes him or her in exactly the opposite direction he or she is trying to go.

That sounds illogical, I know, so let’s examine some of the forces that could allow this to happen.

1. Stupidity – This is a simple situation of making a bonehead decision. It is like the leader who intellectually knows it is better to admit a mistake than to hide it because that actually increases respect, but chooses to hide it anyway. Sad to say there are many stupid leaders out there who make wrong decisions rather consistently.

2. Too pressed for time – I had a teacher once tell me “You can write a term paper in 3 months or 3 hours, the only difference is the quality.” So it goes with decisions. Quality goes up with more thought, at least up to a point. After a while the old syndrome of “analysis paralysis” takes over, and the decision process becomes entirely too cumbersome.

3. Poor information from underlings – often decisions are based on input from others. If a leader blindly takes bad information and makes big decisions based on it, they will turn out bad. That was the problem when George Bush decided to invade Iraq to get rid of the weapons of mass destruction. After sifting the sand of that entire country for years, we never did find the problem we allegedly went in to eliminate.

4. Going along with bad advice from above – there are times when your boss will toss out a half-baked idea and say “Why don’t you try it.” Be careful to get good reasoned advice before taking the plunge.

5. Not accounting for risk – Every decision has an element of risk. If you make a decision based on optimism and faith but do not consider the potential downsides of it, you will eventually get caught in a nasty situation. Get the facts and consider what could go wrong as part of your planning process.

6. Sub-optimizing on only part of the story – it is really easy to please one constituency while alienating another one. You can please the shareholders by eliminating salary increases for a year, but the employees will suffer. There are numerous situations where there are tradeoffs. Go in with your eyes wide open on the holistic impact of your decisions on everyone.

7. Not thinking of the customer – for every action or decision, there is a customer. Make sure you know who the customer is and that the customer is well served by your decision.

8. Repeat of something that did not work before –Making the same bonehead move you have made in the past hoping for a better result should qualify you for a white jacket with very long sleeves. It is the classic definition of insanity.

9. Distracted by a bigger issue – often there are numerous decision processes going on simultaneously. You need to consider each one carefully and not put so much energy into one decision that you starve another. There is no forgiveness if you make a bad decision on the cart because you were focused on the horse.

10. Hubris – Decisions made to feed the ego can often lead to disastrous consequences. Try to not get married to your ideas too early. Think carefully about the full consequences before becoming an advocate of one approach.

11. Lack of communication – If you make a brilliant decision, but everyone else thinks it is stupid because you failed to explain your rationale, you are in trouble. You need to bring others into the process as early and completely as you can.

So, on first blush, the notion of making good decisions sounded trivial, but after considering some of the ways leaders get tripped up, the above checklist ought to be a good starter kit for a master list in your organization of how to make better decisions. I am sure there are several things I missed on my list that you can think of.

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations.