Reducing Conflict 6 Double Sided Labels

September 20, 2021

We tend to put labels on other people. These are words to describe some kind of flaw we perceive in them. For example, you might say another person is lazy, or a bully, immature, a hot-head, or a gossip. 

It is easy to put an unflattering label on another person. The underlying logic behind hurtful labels is “why can’t you be more like me?”  Actually, it is human nature to see the flaws in other people much easier than to see our own improvement opportunities.

In reality, we all have ways we can improve, but we tend to focus more on the ways other people need to change in order to be more perfect. We make up the labels to see the flaws more clearly and give them a name.

Rationalization

Our self-talk tends to excuse the things that we do because “under the circumstances” we are doing the best that we can. We give ourselves a pass on some personal habits, but other people will pick up on them and put labels on us.

Distribution of Warts

It is helpful to remember that God sprinkled a roughly equal number of imperfections on us all.  Nobody goes through life without some labels being put on him or her. Someone may say that you procrastinate constantly.  You think to yourself, I make sure that I know what I am doing before I jump into action.

Try to Catch Yourself in the Act

It is really difficult to break the habit of putting unflattering labels on other people. It is part of the human condition.  Because you excuse your own flaws and wish other people could rise to your standard of excellence, you are not conscious of when you are being judgmental of them.

One way to reduce this problem is to catch yourself having a negative thought about another person that becomes a label. Recognize that you just did it, and have a conversation with yourself about how that person would react if you used the negative label to his or her face.  The more you can catch yourself doing this the easier it is to become conscious of it and change the habit yourself.

Free Bonus Video

Here is a video that contains more information on the labels we put on other people along with some additional tips on how you can break the cycle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90J7ZSb4sxc

 

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.

 


Mastering Mentoring 11 Mapping Progress

September 18, 2021

When working in a mentoring relationship it is a good idea to have a map of where you are going. As with any relationship that involves multiple exposures, it is important to start out with some kind of a plan. If there is no plan, you are both on a ship with no rudder.

Start with some casual conversation about what topics would be of most interest to the protégé. I use a master list of potential topics and test the energy for each one with a numerical scale.  There is time to add other topics that may not be on the master list as the relationship proceeds.

Doing this planning exercise gives some structure to the coaching, and since the protégé selected the topics of highest interest, you get a sense that the time is being used wisely.

Sometimes I will suggest certain topics as being very important as well.  For example, I usually suggest we delve into Emotional Intelligence because that topic is absolutely vital to cover for any professional.  The individual might not know enough about Emotional Intelligence to include it on the list of high-energy topics.

Emotional Intelligence

 An understanding of Emotional Intelligence is essential for any professional. The subject forms the basis for how you understand yourself and how you relate to others. There are four parts to emotional intelligence as follows:

  1. Self Awareness – the ability to understand your own emotions.
  2. Self Control – the ability to control your own emotions.
  3. Social Awareness (also called empathy) – the ability to understand the emotions of others.
  4. Social Skill – the ability to control situations so you get the kind of response you want to get.

Professionals who are well versed in the area of Emotional Intelligence have a much easier time performing well in most situations.  Those professionals who have only a vague concept of Emotional Intelligence frequently struggle.

Body Language

I also usually recommend some exposure to topics in body language. Not all professionals are aware of how much we communicate through body language.  It is a topic that is rarely addressed in schools and universities, yet it is vital to understand.

How we communicate with our body as opposed to words is essential because body language is far more complex and pervasive than verbal language. It takes conscious effort to understand and be able to use this skill.

Create a Map

In addition to the things I suggest we cover, the plan includes things the protégé finds helpful and would like to learn.  Developing a kind of map of how these topics fit together into a logical sequence gives us the starting point for building capability.

The plan does not need to be rigid.  There are opportunities to diverge into new topics or to sequence things differently than planned based on changing conditions or new interests.  The plan is a guide for mapping progress but not a jail to confine us.

If you start a mentoring effort with some kind of map, you will make much more progress and have a more fruitful relationship.

 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 39 Transparent or Opaque?

September 17, 2021

I was giving my talk on Trust and Transparency for a group recently, and the host had an interesting twist about being transparent or opaque.  He said that he knew certain members of management who were experts at being “opaque.” 

I really liked use of the word opaque, which is the opposite of transparent.  For this article, I wanted to explore the different forces operating on a manager which may lead to higher opacity and how being opaque destroys trust.

Here I will use an impending reorganization where some people will be terminated as an example. What are some of the rationalizations that would cause some managers to be opaque?

Fear that people will become enraged

If there is bad news in the offing, the managers might be concerned about letting the information out early because of fear of retribution or sabotage. If it becomes known that people will be losing jobs, then some people might feel (wrongly) there is not much to lose. Of course, there is a lot to lose any time we burn bridges with people: especially former employers.

My experience is that if people are treated with respect and dignity, even if the news is not pleasant, the vast majority of them will act like adults and actually be appreciative of the transparent information far in advance so preparations for a logical transition can be made.  I have witnessed workers keeping a good attitude and being productive during a layoff process right up to the final hour at work and left with sadness coupled with dignity.

What really infuriates workers is to find out about a discontinuity on the day of the announcement, when they realize it has been in the planning stages for months.  In that case, you might expect someone to throw a monkey wrench in the gears on his way out the door.

Let people know about a troublesome situation well in advance and tell them that you are letting them know out of respect. You can say that you are trusting them to conduct themselves with dignity even though the news is not good.

Using lack of perfect plans as an excuse

Managers often do not want to divulge information because the plans are not 100% set in stone.  They reason that some information will lead to questions that cannot be answered, so they wait until all the details are known.  One could always make that excuse, and yet people tolerate a lack of specific details better than being kept in the dark wondering about the big picture.

Plans are always subject to revision, so it is far better to involve employees when the plans are not yet firm, because they would have the opportunity to help shape the future, even if only slightly. That involvement in the process normally leads to a higher level of acceptance in the end than if employees are kept in the dark then mouse-trapped with the bad news at the final moment.

Financial Embarrassment

Often in a transition, it becomes obvious that the people making the plans are the “haves” and the people impacted in the organization are the “have-nots.”  Total transparency would mean that workers become painfully aware that they are being abused financially while the bosses are taking down huge stock options or other seemingly lavish benefits.

Managers would rather not have everyone in the organization know their incentive packages or the size of their golden parachutes. It is just too embarrassing. While this reason to be opaque is actually reasonable, it does raise a huge caution flag. If management is hiding things they would be embarrassed about, isn’t that an ethical breach that needs to be addressed?

Clueless Managers

Another form of embarrassment that leads to opacity is that people may find out that the managers they work for are actually clueless. They do not know what they are doing and are “winging it” on a daily basis.  If everyone was aware of the stupidity of some corporate decisions, the managers might be subject to a lynch mob mentality among the troops.

Since you cannot cure “stupid,” the people are going to be even more frustrated because the whole need for a reorganization might have been unnecessary. 

Wanting to retain the best people

When there is bad news to share, it impacts everyone in the organization.  The best people will have the greatest opportunity to pick up a job elsewhere for similar or even better pay and benefits.  The dregs of the organization have less opportunity to go elsewhere, so if management lets out too much information too early, they are likely to end up keeping the people they want to lose and losing the people they wish to keep. Opacity seems like a strategy to forestall the exodus of needed top talent. Of course, this logic ignores the fact that the best people will be even more likely to leave once it is revealed they have been left out of the loop all along. Trust is built when information is shared freely and openly.

Needing time for cross-training

Some managers will keep mum on an upcoming reorganization to allow a kind of preparation phase where people are cross-trained on other jobs ostensibly for the purpose of building bench strength. Workers see through this ploy rather quickly, so the opacity cover is blown, and it becomes a kind of game environment for several months. The antidote here is to be transparent about cross-training and have a continual process to keep skills broad and well sharpened.  With that strategy, the need to be opaque about why training is being done vanishes, and people appreciate the variety as well as the opportunity to learn additional skill sets. 

The other side of the coin

I do not claim that it is always a bad strategy to be opaque in the face of changes.  Sometimes there are legal restrictions on what information can be shared.  Managers can go to jail if they divulge information about an impending move that will have a material impact on stock valuation. Also, it may be a disaster to have suppliers or the competition find out about a future move. Managers need to use good judgment as to when and how to divulge information.

They also need to be aware that the rumor mill picks up on minute radar signals throughout the organization. It is not possible to truly hide the fact that “something is going on.” When people are intentionally kept in the dark, they tend to make up stories of what is going on to fill the vacuum. The rumors are normally far worse than the action contemplated, so the beleaguered managers must do damage control on things that are not going to happen while trying to tiptoe around the truth. Trust is lost in such times because people feel managers are “playing games” with them.

My point is that it is far too easy to fall victim to some of the excuses or subterfuges mentioned above.  It is usually wise to put a skeptical stance on any gag rule. Reason: Eventually the truth will come out, so any perceived advantage of not telling people is eventually lost along with the long-term damage to trust that comes with being opaque.

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow, Inc. an organization dedicated to growing leaders. Website www.leadergrow.com   BLOG www.thetrustambassador.com He is author of the following books: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals,  Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind

 

 


Leadership Barometer 110 Post-COVID Advice

September 15, 2021

In a recent interview, I was asked if I had any advice for leaders in the Post-COVID journey. Many organizations are wrestling with whether to insist that employees return to work, get vaccinated, wear masks, or work at least partially from home. I thought of two actions that seem prudent at this time. 

First Action – Let People Decide for Themselves

We each have a unique set of conditions that will bring out the best in us.  If a leader tries to impose a set pattern of work location and rules for everyone, most likely the majority of people will not be happy. 

It is far better to lay out some guidelines but allow each person to find his or her sweet spot.  Keep in mind the optimal pattern for any individual may change with time, so allow for that kind of flexibility as well. 

By empowering people to decide for themselves how they choose to work, the leader has the enthusiasm of most of the people from the start. Showing trust in the people to make the best decision is uplifting, and the result will be a more engaged workforce throughout the organization. Naturally, people need to be accountable for getting things done and done well.

Granted, there will be some circumstances where a person simply must be present, but the general pattern of attendance usually can be made flexible enough to allow each person the freedom to choose the details.

Second Action – Double Communications

When people are working at least partly remotely, it is imperative that they have more frequent contact with others in the organization.  During “normal” times, a standard pattern of communication is usually adequate, but in times of stress, it is imperative that communication occur more frequently.

I used to observe that when things were difficult or edgy, rumors would tend to spring up within the workforce. I would observe managers wanting to hide in their offices because they did not want to face the questions people might ask. 

The opposite reaction is much more helpful.  When people are upset, leaders need to double their interface time with them. That action tends to increase trust and maintain engagement as well as reassure the people.

The Actual Interview

In case you are interested in watching the entire interview, here is a link to it. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=apezCmMDYAs The part where Kevyn asks me the question on COVID Advice is at minute 39, so feel free to scan forward.

The whole interview is over 50 minutes long, but it is highly entertaining throughout as Kevyn Rustici and Tyler White ask odd questions that draw out comical answers. Also, I have ample time to share my theories on how important it is to have a culture of high trust and actually share the secret sauce for how to obtain that huge advantage.

I also have the opportunity to share some stories that illustrate my points and that you may find inspiring.

The preceding information was adapted from the book Leading with Trust is like Sailing Downwind, by Robert Whipple. It is available on www.leadergrow.com.

 

Robert Whipple is also the author of The TRUST Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals and, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online. Bob consults and speaks on these and other leadership topics. He is CEO of Leadergrow Inc. a company dedicated to growing leaders.


Reducing Conflict 5 The Power of Flights

September 13, 2021

Sometimes a simple airplane flight can allow two teams working remotely to make more progress than dozens of Zoom calls.

When working on large projects, managers often split up the work so one group works on one part while another group, typically located in another city or country, works on a different part. If you are the overall manager for the effort, keep a close eye on the level of silo thinking between these two groups.

Often the allegiance to the part Group 1 is working on will make communication with Group 2 more difficult. This is especially true if both parts must function equally well for the whole project to be successful and the entire system not working well.

Group 1 will typically blame Group 2 for the problems and vice versa.  You can waste a lot of time and energy, even if the people involved are really trying to work well together and communicating frequently by phone or video conference. 

There comes a point where it is worth it to get the groups together physically in the same room to brainstorm the best solution. I ran into a classic example of this phenomenon late in my career. The story is contained in the three-minute video below.

The tricky part is to be able to sense when the “we versus they” feelings are getting in the way of viewing a problem objectively. You do this by observing the phrases used when the teams are interfacing. For example, you might read an email that says, “We wanted to accelerate the testing but they thought the original schedule was better.”

Often the “we versus they” attitudes are hidden in the body language when teams interface virtually. Look for eyes rolling or side glances among the team members to pick up on areas of disagreement. When these kinds of signals are slowing up the progress of the entire project, it really helps to co-locate the teams for a while until they come up with a breakthrough.

In the example I share below, we were struggling for weeks and getting nowhere.  I insisted that the groups get together, and a solution became evident after only a few hours of working together.  

Free Bonus Video

Here is a video that contains a true story of how this dynamic works.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QETek1SjPA

 

 

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 rticles 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.

 


Mastering Mentoring 10 How Many

September 11, 2021

The question of how many mentor relationships to have at any point in time will depend on a number of factors.  I will examine the question from the perspective of the protégé first, then I will discuss it from the point of view of the mentor. Finally, I will discuss the special case of mentoring leaders.

How Many Mentors Should a Protégé Have?

I recommend that every professional should have at least one mentor.  I have outlined the benefits of having a mentor in several articles in this series, and I will add more benefits in future articles. A professional mentor can guide you on your journey in your chosen career.

Naturally, having a mentor in your professional arena is of paramount importance, but there are other areas of your life where a mentor could be a significant advantage. 

Having a mentor for your volunteer and civic life really helps provide networking and skill-building advice. Seek out a respected community leader to help you. Your progress toward reaching your goals will be greatly enhanced. In fact, the act of identifying your goals can be significantly enriched by having a good mentor.

You may want to have a mentor who is like a life coach for your physical wellbeing. This person would have the requisite background to advise you on things like diet, exercise, disease prevention, recuperation, medications, sleep patterns, and other aspects of your health.

The only caveat here is to select a person who is reliable and not into things like fad diets or questionable medications or treatments.  Many people rely on their personal physician as this mentor, but you may want to have a personal coach in addition to your doctor.

A coach for your spiritual life can be a good idea in many cases. This would be a friend who can focus on how you are integrating the various influences on your soul and the future of it.

Keep in mind that your mentor in any of these areas does not need to be a physical presence. Your mentor might be an author that you respect. Many of my mentors have never met me, but they have had a significant influence on the quality of my life as a result of my study of their ideas.

You could have several mentors in one area that see the world from different perspectives. They do not always have to agree on everything. You have the opportunity to select which things you are going to espouse.

How Many Proteges should a Mentor Have? 

I advise that every professional should have at least one protégé. This is a way to give back and build up another person, so it is an act of kindness that pays big dividends. There is no reason to stop at only one protégé. You can have as many as you wish as long as you have the time and inclination.

I usually can count on more than 10 people at a time that I am mentoring. These relationships take on different levels of intervention and coaching. I might have an interface with a protégé on rare occasions. Others I might see weekly or sometimes even daily.

Keep close tabs on how much time you are spending with these people and scale things back if the situation gets out of balance. When you do not have enough time to service all of the people you are mentoring and they are getting frustrated, you have gone too far.

Likewise, if your professional or personal life is suffering due to the time you are putting in coaching others, you need to rebalance your own life.

Mentoring Leaders

I believe the highest calling for any leader is to grow other leaders. That is how you can leverage your leadership and get a multiplier effect.  I have seen many leaders who do not recognize this mandate and spend all of their energy maximizing their own performance while forgetting the responsibility of bringing along the next generation of leaders.

This selfish attitude is one of the reasons there is a shortage of great leaders in our time. If every leader would focus some energy on helping other leaders advance their skills, we would have fewer problems in this world. If you are a leader, consider if you are giving back enough to grow other leaders for the future. 

 

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 38 Tricky Questions About Trust

September 9, 2021

In my leadership classes, I often like to pose four tricky questions about the nature of trust. As people grapple with the questions, it helps them sort out for themselves a deeper meaning of the words and how they might be applied in their own world.  The four questions are:

What is the relationship between trust and vulnerability?

How can you trust someone you fear?

Is it possible to respect someone you do not trust? and

Can you trust someone you do not respect?

I have spent a lot of time bouncing these questions around in my head. I am not convinced that I have found the correct answers (or even that correct answers exist). I have had to clarify in my own mind the exact meanings of the words trust, vulnerability, fear, and respect.

Before you read this article further, stop here and ponder the four questions for yourself. See if you can come to some answers that might be operational for you. 

Thinking about these concepts, makes them become more powerful for us. I urge you to pose the three questions (without giving your own answers) to people in your workgroup. Then have a quality discussion about the possible answers. You will find it is a refreshing and deep conversation to have. 

Here are my answers (subject to change in the future as I learn more):

  1. What is the relationship between trust and vulnerability? 

Trust implies vulnerability. When you trust another person, there is always a chance that the person will disappoint you. Ironically, it is the extension of your trust that drives a reciprocal enhancement of the other person’s trust in you.

If you are a leader and you want people in your organization to trust you more, one way to achieve that is to show more trust in them. I call that dichotomy the “First Law of Trust.”

That concept is very challenging for many managers and leaders. They sincerely want to gain more trust, but find it hard to extend higher trust to others.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “It is better to trust and be disappointed every once in a while than to not trust and be miserable all the time.”

  1. How can you trust someone you fear? 

Fear and trust are nearly opposites. I believe trust cannot kindle in an organization when there is fear, so one way to gain more trust is to create an environment with less fear.

In the vast majority of cases, trust and lack of fear go together. My quote on that concept is, “The absence of fear is the incubator of trust.”

The question I posed is whether trust and fear can ever exist at the same time.  I think it is possible to trust someone you fear. That thought is derived from how I define trust. 

My favorite definition is that if I trust you, I believe you will always do what you believe is in my best interest – even if I don’t appreciate it at the time. Based on that logic, I can trust someone even if I am afraid of what she might do as long as I believe she is acting in my best interest. 

For example, I may be afraid of my boss because I believe she is going to give me a demotion and suggest I get some training on how to get along with people better. I am afraid of her because of the action she will take, while on some level I am trusting her to do what she believes is right for me.

Let’s look at another example. Suppose your supervisor is a bully who yells at people when they do not do things to his standards or when you have different opinions. You do not appreciate the abuse and are fearful every time you interact with him. You do trust him because he has kept the company afloat during some difficult times and has never missed a payroll, but you do not like his tactics.


3. Is it possible to respect someone you do not trust?

This question gets pretty complicated. In most situations, trust and respect go hand in hand. That is easy to explain and understand. Is it possible to conjure up a situation where you can respect someone you do not yet trust?  Sure, we do this all the time.

We respect people for the things they have achieved, the skills they possess, or the position they have reached. We respect many people we have not even met.  For example, I respect Nelson Mandela, but I have no basis yet to trust him, even though I have a predisposition to trust him based on his reputation.

Another example is a new boss. I respect her for the position and the ability to hold a job that has the power to offer me employment. I probably do not trust her immediately. I will wait to see if my respect forms the foundation on which trust grows based on her actions over time.

If someone has let me down in the past, and I have lost respect for that person, then there is no basis for trust at all. This leads to the last question:

  1. Can you trust someone you do not respect?

 I find it difficult to think of a single example where I can trust someone that I do not respect. That is because respect is the basis on which trust is built. If I do not respect an individual, I believe it is impossible for me to trust her.

Therefore, respect becomes an enabler of trust, and trust is the higher-order phenomenon. You first have to respect a person, then go to work on building trust. 

Conclusion

People use the words trust, fear, respect, and vulnerability freely every day. It is rare that they stop and think about the relationships between the concepts. Thinking about and discussing these ideas ensures that communication has a common ground for understanding, so take some time in your workgroup to wrestle with these questions.

I welcome your opinions on my thoughts here because I am eager to learn other ways of thinking about 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 109 Opening Our Eyes

September 8, 2021

I am a student of lean thinking principles.  One concept used early in any lean exercise is to create a Process Flow Map. The map is a very specific diagram of what is actually going on in a process. 

The experts call this process “learning to see.”  It is effective because without the tool we get lulled into a state where we are looking at things and events, but not really paying attention to what is going on.  We look, but we do not see what is important. 

Sacred Cows

I believe this phenomenon is going on a lot more than we recognize.  That is why the concept of the “sacred cow” can be so useful to groups at work.

A literal sacred cow in the Hindu religion is an actual cow that is treated with sincere reverence. A figurative sacred cow is a practice or act that is immune from question or criticism, especially unreasonably so.

An example of a “sacred cow” is sitting up watching a lighted crystal ball slide down a pole on top of a building in Times Square every December 31st at the stroke of midnight. Most of us just do this every year and never stop to ask why.

The scary thing is that we are surrounded by sacred cows in the workplace, yet we are blind to many of them because often we just do not see what is going on right in front of us.

I was once part of a production operation that created a cow pasture in the form of a bulletin board on which anyone could write what he or she thought was a practice that had no merit on a construction paper cut-out of a cow and place it in the pasture on the bulletin board. 

This action had the effect of bringing a ridiculous or unwarranted practice to light so it could be eliminated.  It was really a process of opening our eyes to see what was actually happening.

I suggest that every office and organization have a kind of contest to see who can identify the most sacred cows. The only additional rule needed is that the individuals who point out the sacred cows also have to suggest an alternate, more sensible, practice.

The Abilene Paradox

A close cousin to sacred cows is a phenomenon called “The Abilene Paradox.”  The term was invented and presented by Jerry B. Harvey in 1974 in an article in “Organization Dynamics Journal.” 

Jerry described a situation where a family took a road trip to Abilene for dinner on a blistering day in Texas when none of the individuals really wanted to go. Each person rode in the car with no air conditioning because he or she assumed the others wanted to go. 

In effect, the group was incapable of seeing that every single person was against the idea, so they all went on the journey.  Today we call that phenomenon “groupthink” or another term, “tunnel vision.”

It is easy to see our government making groupthink decisions on spending that everyone admits we cannot afford. In order to get re-elected, it is necessary to avoid unpleasant decisions, so the group, en-masse, will pass an appropriation that none of them individually think is good for the country.

The terms “sacred cow” and “groupthink” describe situations where individuals or groups are simply incapable of seeing what, in fact, is true.  Why are these terms helpful? 

The terms help us because when the paradox is revealed to a group or individual, it is often easier to end the deception.  Using the terms in meetings or social interfaces allows people to actually see what is going on much the same way as a Process Flow Map. I believe getting people to use these words in public is cleansing because it allows a more healthy debate once the denial of a habit is exposed.

Breaking out of old patterns is more difficult than it seems.  If you really work at it, you can find examples of groupthink within every group.  Giving the actions a name and discussing them openly allows people to catch themselves when they are “on the road to Abilene,” so they can break the paradigm.  Encourage and reward people who are perceptive enough to see and expose the habitual time wasters or just plain dumb things that go on in every organization every day.  Take positive steps to put your sacred cows out to pasture.

The preceding information was adapted from the book Leading with Trust is like Sailing Downwind, by Robert Whipple. It is available on www.leadergrow.com.  

Robert Whipple is also the author of The TRUST Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals and, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online. Bob consults and speaks on these and other leadership topics. He is CEO of Leadergrow Inc. a company dedicated to growing leaders.

 


Reducing Conflict 4 Political Thought

September 6, 2021

Political thought is an interesting topic in conflict avoidance. The essence of a political thought is the firm belief that your way of viewing a situation is the “right” way and that any opposing view is wrong. You become so entrenched with your perspective that you lose the ability to be objective and can actually do harm to your point of view.

I learned an important lesson about political thought in a public speaking course while I was in college.  I had given an excellent talk on a political issue of how much money to invest in the space race.

When I got my grade for the talk, the professor complemented me on an excellent layout of the argument for my beliefs.  Then he told me that I was “snotty as hell” when addressing questions from the group.

I had convinced the group that my perspective was right, but then I alienated my audience during the Q and A portion and lost support.  I had overplayed my hand. If the objective of college is to learn valuable life skills, I got my money’s worth that day.

Respect Contrary Opinions

In advocating your position, make your case as strongly as you can. Fortify your points with data and examples, but do not jump on someone who expresses a legitimate question.  Be kind if there is some push back, because there is always a particle of truth, or you could be wrong. If you really do disagree with the statement made by another person, just agree to disagree. Don’t become bellicose trying to defend your position. You are not likely to change the other person’s perspective and tend to undermine your own credibility.

 

Free Bonus Video

 Here is the link to a short video on Political Thought:

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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 rticles 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.

 


Mastering Mentoring 9 Advocacy

September 4, 2021

Advocacy is one of the most valuable benefits of having a mentor.  The mentor usually travels in different circles than the protégé, so there is an opportunity for the mentor to advocate for the benefit of the protégé.

At Lunch

It is common for a mentor to sit with a different (usually higher) group in the lunchroom.  In large organizations, there may be management lunch facilities.  During the informal discussions that go on during lunch or breaks, there is plenty of opportunity for one manager to describe an opportunity for someone. The mentor can mention that she has a great candidate ready to move up. 

The only caveat here for the mentor is to not overplay the advocacy of the protégé. Mention the possibility of a good match only when there is an excellent fit, and refrain from making the same referral too often.

In Social Circles

The same dynamic can be effective in networking organizations or volunteer groups. The same precaution applies in these venues. If the mentor advocates for the protégé too often, then it does a major disservice to both people.

As a Reference

Sometimes the protégé may be in a career search mode. When this occurs, the mentor is in a perfect position to act as a formal reference. Usually, the reference is given in written form. When this happens, a follow-up phone conversation is often desirable because it allows both parties to explore topic areas that may not have been obvious in the initial request.

Be Totally Candid

In advocating for the protégé, it is important for the mentor to be honest if there are some potential trade-offs.  We all have strength areas, but nobody is perfect all the time.  If the mentor mentions an area of opportunity for growth, it will actually enhance the level of trust because it represents transparency and candor.  Of course, it does matter that the wart is minor in nature.  If there is a serious area of doubt, then revealing it will work to the disadvantage of the protégé.  In that case, there should be some coaching going on anyway. 

Conclusion

The mentor can help the protégé in a number of ways provided it is done in the right spirit and quantity. Be particularly alert to the body language reactions when discussing another person with someone else.  That is the easiest way to determine if you may be coming on too strong. 

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.