Building Higher Trust 85 Trust is Not a Singular Concept

August 12, 2022

Trust is not a singular concept in nature. I have studied trust for several decades, teach it in several settings, and written four books on it. Trust is such a common word that we use it numerous times a day without thinking. Just listen to the advertisements on TV and you will hear the word trust in the majority of them.

Trust is much broader than we think

Many people have a misconception about the concept of trust. They think of trust as a singular concept when using the word in daily conversation. They picture it as a kind of bond between them and another person.  It takes on a singular connotation. Either they trust another person or do not trust him or her at some level right now.

Trying to define the word

The way I get groups to think about trust more deeply is by asking what the word means. There is always a pause and awkward silence for a few seconds as people try to define it.  Then, someone will offer that trust is the confidence that another person will perform in a certain way.  Someone else will chime in that trust is taking a risk that they could be disappointed.  A third person will add that trust is about having shared values. Then someone will add that trust is having their back or sticking up for them. Once the ball gets rolling, a group can come up with a couple dozen definitions of trust quickly. 

Trust is ubiquitous

Now the group is ready to entertain the idea that trust is a multi-faceted concept. It exists not only between people, but with organizations, products, services, and all kinds of systems.  People get the idea that trust is ubiquitous and is all around them in every moment of their day.  They recognize that before they get to work in the morning, they have experienced trust several hundred times. 

We trust systems to work

They walk into the bathroom and turn on the lights. They trust the whole system to provide light. They don’t think about where the electricity is coming from unless there is some kind of rare failure. 

They turn on the water and just expect potable water to come out without any problem. If it is the left faucet, they trust that the water will become warm, then hot with time.  By the time they reach the breakfast table, trust is experienced dozens of times; then things get really complicated. 

Medications require trust

At breakfast, they are confident that the vitamin pill they are taking is safe. They have no idea who made the pill and what ingredients went into it.  They just swallow the pill and expect it to help. 

In the car

They get into their car and turn the ignition key.  Now, inside the engine, there are thousands of explosions each minute that allow the car to move. They peacefully enjoy the classical music on their favorite station and crank up the air conditioning. 

They have no worry when they press down on the brakes that the car will stop.  They drive over numerous bridges and overpasses without blinking an eye. They do not think of the consequences if the structure would become unsafe. 

Just a few examples to illustrate

On it goes all day every day that they simply take for granted things will work as designed. They recognize on occasion things might fail for some obscure reason. The failures are so remote that they put them out of their mind unless something unusual is going on. Now let’s focus on how trust between people is built and lost for all of us.

In general, we all focus our conscious energy on trust in the relationships we have with other people. Often we forget about the transactional nature of trust. It is impacted by everything (seen and unseen) that happens between people. 

Trust is always bilateral

Trust is bilateral. I trust you and you trust me at some level, and the levels are not the same.  Something happens, and I may trust you more while you trust me less.  The whole thing is dynamic and constant. Most of the trust interactions are going on in our subconscious minds. We have a kind of score card in our mind that is like the balance in a bank account.

A bank account

Many authors, including me, have likened trust to a bank account. We have a balance, and we make deposits and withdrawals. The size of the deposit or withdrawal will vary depending on what is happening. The transaction may be totally subconscious. We can make a huge withdrawal of trust with another person and be totally oblivious to it. 

A few years ago I built a model that helps people visualize this trust account and how it works. I call it my “Trust Barometer” and show it at all my programs. People really get the message about how trust works very easily. Here is a link to a Trust Barometer Video (6 minutes) about how trust is built and lost. Take a peek at this fun description and see if it helps you picture the nature of trust in your life.

Conclusion

Trust is more complex and ubiquitous in our lives than we realize.  Try to be more aware of this aspect of trust. You can see it working for you more consciously on a daily basis. It is fun, and it certainly is an eye-opener.

 

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, 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

 

 


Building Higher Trust 84 The Transactional Nature of Trust

August 10, 2022

To experience maximum trust with people we know, we need to be aware of the transactional nature of trust. Everything that happens between us will have some impact on the level of trust.

It is important to build trust constantly through our words and deeds. Sometimes we will encounter a loss of trust. We need the equity of past trust-building transactions to withstand an inevitable letdown. Here is a true story from my past that included a trust transaction.

Exchange with a subordinate

George came into my office and closed the door.  He was a manager reporting to me, and we had a relationship of high trust. My division recently combined with another division to form a larger organization. George started to tell me some unflattering things about one of the managers I was inheriting.

Rather than my trust in George going up, it went down that day because he was undermining a peer.  I told him that I would rather not deal in gossip. It was better to give the new manager a chance to start out with a clean slate.

How trust transactions work

As we interface with people in daily activities, our level of trust with them goes up or down constantly. Trust increases or decreases depending on the transactions happening between us. This adjustment includes email, phone calls, and even body language in a meeting. Any interface creates an opportunity to modify the level of trust.

Exercise for you

Seek to pay more attention to the transactions you have with other people today. Notice the small things that happen which have a positive or negative impact on trust. Learn to read the body language of others. It allows you to read when something you have said has made the level of trust go down.

Conclusion

Trust is never static. It is always moving depending on our assessment of the Five C’s of trust. They are:

  1. Character
  2. Consistency
  3. Competence
  4. Congeniality
  5. Care

We can witness these things easily in other people, and it is the basis for the trust level we have. Also, realize the other person is making similar judgments of us. Trust is an ever-moving target. Make sure you are always doing things to build rather than destroy trust with other people.

 

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, 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

 

 


Building Higher Trust 83 Trust and Ethics

August 5, 2022

It is pretty obvious that trust and ethics are related. You may not have thought about the relationship in a conscious way. This article shines a light on that. It offers an example of how a community can change ethical conditions for the better.

Ethical problems reduce trust 

I cannot think of a single ethical scandal that did not result in a loss of trust in some area. When there is an ethical dilemma, there are a variety of solutions to consider. In choosing between them, one major factor is how each solution would impact trust. Ethical issues always reduce trust.

The reverse is not true

There can be situations that result in lower trust that do not involve ethics at all. Trust is defined by minute transactions like the wording of an email or rolling of eyes in a meeting.

We all are aware that when trust is damaged, it takes a lot of effort to repair it. I have described a process to regain lost trust in another article. Building Higher Trust 68 Restoring Lost Trust. The good news is that with care, it is usually possible to repair trust to a higher state. We must understand that not all ethical problems are the same.

Situational ethics 

The challenge with ethics is that the existence of an ethical problem is situational. The severity will vary depending on the people involved. For example, we would all agree that stealing is unethical. I can come up with a scenario where taking the property of another person might be perfectly ethical. 

Example with books 

Suppose you are a trash collector. In a recycle bin there are some books that you might like to read. The books do not belong to you, but they were discarded. You feel it is appropriate to salvage the books for your reading pleasure. I suspect most readers would agree that it is ethical to take the books.

Killing another person 

Killing another person is not an ethical thing to do. We would all agree there are circumstances where killing another person is the correct thing. In a time of war, killing the enemy is often the objective of a mission. If a thief tries to kill you, you have a right to kill the robber to save yourself.

In extreme cases, it is easy to see how some things are unethical. For example, what Bernie Madoff did to his investors was clearly unethical. Like many ethical scandals, the pathway to egregious actions may have started out as legal actions. He then got deeper and deeper into illegal and unethical actions.

Hard to recognize the slippery slope

Sometimes people find a slippery slope because if they can do X today, then doing X+1 tomorrow seems reasonable. It does not take long before they are doing things that are clearly not appropriate. They may not even be aware of the erosion of ethical standards that is going on. If someone has the courage to speak up about it, the problem can be stopped before doing more damage.

Having the ability to point out apparent lapses in ethics requires low fear from a culture of high trust. We call this low fear, psychological safety.

The value of psychological safety

Few organizations have been able to achieve true psychological safety. Those that have achieved it have a significant advantage. It is where leaders do not punish people when they point out an issue. If they say something about a pending action that does not seem right, it will trigger praise, not punishment.

That is why true trust is such an important way to prevent unethical actions. When there is high trust, there is usually low fear about telling the truth to superiors. People know that by raising a potential ethical dilemma, they are really doing the organization and leader a favor. 

What would it look like if a whole community were to espouse greater trust and ethics?

In Rochester, New York, there is an organization called Elevate Rochester. The organization has been in existence for 20 years. I am in my fifth year of serving on the Board of Directors. Our vision is to have Rochester be the “Gold Standard” in terms of promoting ethical business cultures.

Each year we have an award ceremony (modeled after the Academy Awards complete with a red carpet). We create greater community emphasis on ethical corporate behaviors by celebrating those groups that are doing it right.

During the year, we encourage local organizations to submit an application for the award. The judging process is quite rigorous. It includes interviews and site visits, along with a written application. An Elevate Rochester committee names recipients of the award each year.

The ETHIE Award

The year culminates with a ceremony in November when a few companies receive the “ETHIE” Award. Each company has a professionally-made video of its operation and receives a trophy. It is a very big deal here in Rochester. Dozens of organizations have received the award and have become part of our Honor Roll.

In addition, we run several programs each year. We help educate the business and government communities on how to focus more energy on ethical behaviors. I have spoken at several events as part of the group. We have a list of people who speak on ethics. Speakers also come from other parts of the country. It is a community effort that benefits all organizations in our region.

Conclusion

It is possible to enhance the level of ethical behavior in an entire community.  Of course, perfection will never be achieved. By celebrating the organizations that are doing well with ethics, we enhance the overall performance of our region.

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, 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

 

 


Building Higher Trust 82 Leader’s Role in Trust Issues

July 29, 2022

The behaviors of the senior leaders in any organization will have more impact on trust issues than anything else. Over many years, I have observed how trust in any organization is influenced most by this single factor. If there are trust issues in an organization, leaders need to look in the mirror for the cause.

There can be trust issues at all levels

The behaviors of the senior leaders are usually the root cause of trust issues in an organization. Please do not misunderstand; there will be trust issues evident at all levels of the organization. Often severe untrustworthy behaviors exist at the operational level. The reality is that in most organizations nearly all employees will exhibit high trust if they are properly led.

Ducking the issue

Many leaders duck culpability, indicating the workers who are not being trustworthy account for low trust. That may be the case, but it is not the root cause of the problem. The behavior of the senior leaders causes employees at various levels to act in a non-trustworthy manner.

The culture of any organization is established from the top. Certainly, there are many levels in any organization and there can be trust issues at any level. The tone of the environment is created by the behaviors and policies set out by the most senior leader.

Leaders usually blame problems on others

Trying to get leaders to step up to cultural responsibility is always a difficult challenge. They would much rather blame others, circumstances, customers, the economy, or anything other than themselves.

I rarely meet an executive who will say, “There is a lack of trust in the organization. Since I am the leader here, it must be originating with me.” Occasionally I will run into someone who thinks that way, but it is pretty rare. We need to convince leaders of their responsibility in terms of creating the right culture. That is the way to create more trust in the world.  

Exercise for leaders

 Ask yourself what behaviors you would need to change in order to begin a new culture within your organization. Think about your role as a leader in establishing the environment in which all employees work. That environment is the creator of either excellence or trust issues.

Foundational behaviors

Here are four “foundational behaviors” leaders can exhibit that will move the culture to one of higher trust. I will also include my favorite quote for each behavior.

  1. Reinforce Candor – make people unafraid to bring up issues. “The absence of fear is the incubator of trust.”
  2. Hold people accountable in a balanced way, not just when they have messed up. “Hold people ‘procountable’ rather than accountable.”
  3. Extend more trust to the people within the organization. “The First Law of trust: If you want to see more trust, then extend more trust.”
  4. Have firm values and demonstrate those values every single day. “Stated values that are not demonstrated by leaders act like nuclear missiles to the fragile trust ecosystem.”

Additional actions that accelerate trust

When leaders do these things consistently, there are hundreds of other actions that will accelerate the pace of trust.  I will mention just a few of the behaviors here for the sake of brevity:

  1. Do what you say.
  2. Treat people well.
  3. Tell the truth.
  4. Demonstrate respect.
  5. Be transparent.
  6. Use the Golden Rule.
  7. Stick up for people.
  8. Be ethical.
  9. Admit mistakes.
  10. Care for the other person.
  11. Adhere to values.
  12. Listen well.
  13. Reinforce good behavior.
  14. Practice humility.
  15. Be consistent.
  16. Right wrongs.

Conclusion

If you are a leader, recognize your role as the primary force that creates the culture in your organization.  If there are trust issues, then it is up to you to change the culture to eliminate them.  If you are not the leader, you might suggest a group workshop on this topic.  It may have an impact.

 

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, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has been a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and non-profit organizations for many years. 


Building Higher Trust 81 The Power of Trust

July 22, 2022

The power of trust cannot be overstated. It has a huge impact as you experience the transitions of your life. Most human beings go through a kind of ritual when confronting death or other profound change.

What matters most at the end of life?

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 probably die a lonely and bitter soul. It is for you to decide how you experience those final few seconds of your existence.

Possessions aren’t very important

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

You have a choice to make every day. I advocate you invest in the relationships and be worthy of the trust of others.  I suggest that the best way to experience the power of trust is to extend it to others.

Interesting insights

I conducted an interview with Stephen M.R. Covey as he was writing his latest book, Trust and Inspire.  He indicated three observations about trust that apply to us all:

  1. Trust is the new currency in our world.
  2. Credibility is your greatest asset.
  3. Your greatest power is to intentionally extend trust to others.

How trust is created

Trust is the lubricant that allows relationships to grow and be effective. It is created by having a safe environment where people can express themselves without fear.

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. The more trust you can extend to others the more you will experience it in your own life.

Never, never, never intentionally destroy trust

I have decided to dedicate the rest of my life to helping others. I will educate people on the merits of trust in their lives and how to obtain more of it. You decide for yourself how to live your life. I hope you realize the impact that more trust will have on the quality of your life.  The more trust you have and can give to others, the more satisfaction and peace you will experience.

 

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, 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. 

 


Building Higher Trust 80 Does Trust Scale

July 15, 2022

Does Trust Scale? My conclusion in a past article was that trust does scale. It is measurable and has properties where it can grow or shrink.

Some centering comments

Ensuing discussions between two of my good friends brought out an important nuance.  Both Bob Vanourek and Fred Dewey came back with the concept that trust is not linear at all. A small increase or decrease in trust will tend to grow exponentially as the news spreads. Actions that build trust will become more powerful as a result of the viral nature of information. 

Of course, the same phenomenon happens on the negative side.  If a leader does something that has a damping effect on trust, that negative impact will become more hurtful as the information spreads virally.

Observations by Stephen M.R. Covey

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, author Stephen M.R. Covey made the observation that there can be an “amplification” effect. Organizations that went into the pandemic with high trust found that trust grew during the chaos. Organizations with low trust tended to see even lower trust during the disruption unless there was corrective action. Here is a video interview of Stephen sharing his theory.

The nature of trust is that it does scale; we need to be constantly aware of a “hockey-stick” situation. One small misstep magnifies in time and in space. I think this observation has always been true. The leverage increases as we trend toward a greater percentage of information conveyed virtually. 

There is an opportunity to intervene that may be helpful.  When something unfortunate happens, it is picked up on social networks. The person who committed the gaff is usually aware of the bad press.  It is a kind of moment of truth where the damage is either made much worse or reversed.  This public relations problem can make or break a person’s reputation.

Case Example

Let’s take a case as an example and dissect the likely outcomes. Suppose a CEO puts out a note to the senior managers that refers to some problem employees as “knuckleheads.” One of the managers gets a chuckle out of the wording and elects to pass it along to a couple of underlings as a joke.

One of the underlings is familiar with a person who has been under scrutiny for some attendance problems. He writes to that person and asks “Wonder if you are one of the knuckleheads?” That individual sends it out to everybody in his group, and the cascade is on. Within an hour, the entire organization knows the CEO considers some of the employees to be “knuckleheads.”

The CEO will quickly become aware, through feedback, that his note is out all over the plant. Let’s look at a few possible approaches for the CEO:

  1. He can call a quick meeting with his senior managers to try to find out who leaked the information. That “witch hunt” reaction is unfortunately pretty common when the real witch was actually the CEO.
  2. He can ignore the situation and let people calm down over time. That “head in the sand” approach is a common ploy that only feeds the rumors of clueless leaders.
  3. A better approach might be a humble apology. He admits to his indiscretion and indicates that his choice of words was inappropriate. He does not try to justify what is already known. He indicates sincere regret and a desire to not repeat it.

You be the judge of the outcomes under these scenarios. Perhaps you can think of other methods of handling the situation. Undoubtedly the best cure would be prevention where the CEO would not send a note like that in the first place.

Even more important, would be to have a CEO who does not even think in terms where he or she has to guard the wording. If your private thoughts show the proper level of respect, then you do not have to scrub your communications. You are free to be authentic.

Of course, this example was a small situation that was contained within one specific organization.  Many times people get into trouble when they communicate inappropriate things about people outside the organization. These lapses can lead to embarrassment, loss of one’s job, jail time, or worse. When people compromise trust in any type of communication, there is no telling how much damage will ensue.

Important conclusion

The percentage of communication happening in the virtual environment is growing. It is time to redouble efforts to create the right culture to avoid embarrassing slips. Creating an environment of trust where people can be authentic is the answer. When leaders don’t need to spin all communication, the opportunity to have an authentic culture grows.

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, 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 www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763.


Building Higher Trust 79 Trust is a Lubricant

July 8, 2022

Today in a LinkedIn response, I thought of the analogy that trust is like a lubricant. Although I have studied trust for decades, I did not make the connection until today. Trust acts like a lubricant in that everything works better and runs more smoothly when trust is present.   

I am a mechanical engineer by training, and I know how lubrication lowers the coefficient of friction. It allows machines to run better and not overheat. Let’s explore this metaphor and see how it applies to our everyday life.  Here are six ways trust acts like a lubricant.

  1. Trust makes communication work better

When people are at odds with one another, they often do a lot of talking but very little deep listening. As the differences of opinion, become more apparent, the tone and volume become more heated, just like a shaft would sound if the bearing had gone dry. The scraping and screeching will just get worse until the whole mechanism freezes up.

  1. Trust smoothes the roughness

People often are not very kind to each other. They can be rather egocentric and usually think about what is best for number one.  People become abrasive like rough sandpaper when other people advocate something that would not be optimal for them.  Trust helps fill in the low spots and smoothes out the roughness so people can interface with less friction.

  1. Trust helps us find win-win solutions

When people have a difference of opinion, they often dig in their heels, knowing that their perspective is the correct one. Trust helps them see that there may be more than one legitimate way to look at an issue. There is an opportunity to invent creative solutions that work better for both parties.

  1. Trust keeps the temperature down

A major function of a lubricant is to lower temperature. The reason mechanical parts overheat without oil is that there is no way to dissipate the heat. Oil in a car engine allows the cylinders to continue their momentum without freezing up. Without oil, a car engine would overheat and seize up quickly, thus destroying the engine.  With people, trust wicks off the overheating of emotions and allows people to disagree without being disagreeable.

  1. Trust polishes relationships

The bond between people will be very strong and supportive when trust is present. Just as lubrication keeps the oxygen away from surfaces that could tarnish or rust, so trust keeps acrimony from destroying the love and affection people have for each other. When trust is high, personal relationships sparkle just like highly polished metal.

  1. Trust acts as a preventive

In the stress of everyday pressures, it is easy to become inflamed or at least anxious. Trust is a kind of balm that soothes the nerves and allows people to be calm in stressful situations. Knowing that someone has my back gives me more confidence that all will be well.  Like using grease to prevent stored parts from rusting, people can use trust to keep themselves well mentally.

Conclusion

In any organization, if you have high trust, the entire organization is going to run smoothly like a finely crafted machine. The trust provides all of the wonderful properties of a lubricant. Work to develop higher trust within your organization.

 

 

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, 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 www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763.

 


Building Higher Trust 78 Trust and Nepotism

July 1, 2022

The word nepotism comes from the Latin root “nepos” meaning nephew. In ancient times, nepotism described a process in the Catholic Church whereby celibate clergy would elevate their nephews to higher positions because they had no offspring of their own.

Common practice in some societies

In modern organizations, the practice of nepotism is alive and well, and it can have devastating impacts on trust. It is interesting because in some cases we tolerate nepotism without question. In other cases, we find the practice repugnant.

Several societies still have a monarchy whereby a person is born into the line of succession. We accept this practice in numerous legitimate societies without difficulty.  We also usually accept the practice of passing on a family-owned business to the offspring of the owner.

Why people hate nepotism

People struggle with the appointment of a close relative if the person appears to be underqualified for the position. The future of people working in an organization is linked to the health of the entity. It hurts to see a weak candidate appointed as a leader due to a blood connection. It feels like a slap in the face at best.

The same helpless feeling occurs in the more common practice of cronyism. A leader selects a favorite person based on their relationship rather than skills. 

No real cure

The sad truth is that there is no effective cure for this problem.  It can go on at any level in any organization, and it usually trashes trust. How can leaders do a better job of bringing along new talent if there is favoritism involved? First, you must realize it is a rare situation where there is absolutely zero favoritism.  Few leaders will promote based solely on the credentials of the individual without regard to the fit.  Some form of advantage is at play in most promotions.

Try being upfront with it

I think it would be a refreshing change if a leader got up and said, “I am appointing my cousin Mark to the job of VP HR. You all realize that Mark and I are related but I trust him.” Being upfront about a decision is far better than just ignoring the bias and expecting people not to care. They do care, and the honest approach will at least show some integrity along with a modicum of sensitivity.

Don’t run a sham

One thing to avoid is trying to run a sham where the leader indicates they are interviewing several candidates. However, the team has already chosen who is going to get the position. That practice is debilitating and easily detected. The leader who does this is going to suffer a huge loss of credibility and trust.  If you have already made up your mind, do not run an interview process that looks like a fair one. You will become exposed more often than not.

There are exceptions where there is a legal precedent for interviewing several people even if the choice appears obvious. It may be an internal company rule that each position must have competition before making a selection.  Keeping an open mind that a better candidate may surface is the antidote. It is often the case.

Make sure there is a chance to succeed

When trying to appoint a relative, make sure the person has at least the potential to do well. There have been numerous examples of a leader bringing in a son or daughter which led to the demise of the organization.  Dr. An Wang, appointed his son Fred to succeed him at Wang Laboratories in 1986. The company was losing its technological advantage, and Fred was unqualified to reverse the slide. By 1989, Dr. Wang fired his son, but it was too late to save the company.

Summary

Keeping the leadership in the family can work out well if there is adequate attention to grooming the individual. Also, the person must have the requisite skill levels in terms of Emotional Intelligence and mental agility.  One thing is for sure, the practice is not going to end any time soon, so get used to it.  

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, 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 www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763.


Building Higher Trust 77 Leading Older People

June 24, 2022

Regardless of how you got to your management position, eventually, you will find yourself managing people older than you. I met one manager last week who is the youngest person in her department. That situation is pretty common these days. It is a scary one for many leaders, especially those who are not well seasoned. 

Here are ten tips to be successful at gaining the necessary trust to lead senior people effectively.

  1. The first few hours matter most

The first few hours or minutes are incredibly important. That is when you plant the seeds of confidence or doubt in your abilities.  Be authentic and do not play head games with people. Show immediate interest in and respect for the people who will be working for you. Get to know them personally as quickly as you can.  Every small gesture of interest in them and their thoughts will transform into credibility for you.

  1. Be observant before you try to change things

Many young leaders figure they need to impress people with their power or brilliance to get respect.  That approach usually backfires. Before seeking to influence the future, appreciate how things were done in the past. Do not spout out theories you learned in school in an attempt to snow people into respecting your knowledge.

  1. Ask questions

Many new leaders make a lot of statements and expect the workers to listen or take notes.  Instead, ask a lot of questions. The best approach is not knowing the right answers; it is knowing the right questions and using them wisely. 

  1. Put the age issue out to pasture quickly

People really do not care if their leader is older or younger than them. What they want is competence, compassion, and integrity.  Show those three things and respect people for their knowledge. They will quickly forget that you are 20-30 years younger than they are.

  1. Be genuine

Head games are for losers.  Be genuine and real.  Try to figure out what matters and pay attention to those things.  Do not make the mistake of trying to be popular all the time, but also don’t be a jerk.  Think about the behaviors that you respect in a leader and emulate those.  Respect people older than you for the experiences they have lived through, and listen to their stories with interest.  Avoid doing a “one-up” on an experience that one of your reports conveys to you.

  1. Begin to work on the culture

It is the culture of the work group that governs the quality of work-life most of all. Work to figure out what is already working well and support that.  Where things need improvement, ask for advice about what people think would work.  You do not need to do everything suggested, but you need to let people have a voice.

Work to build higher trust by making it safe for people to tell you what they really feel. In most areas that have morale problems, it is because people are afraid or feel disrespected.  Be approachable and be willing to listen deeply to the opinions of others.  Make up your own mind what to do, but only after you have internalized and considered the ideas of others.

  1. Be sincere, but not overly lavish, with your praise

People can smell a phony a mile away. They will have no respect if you just try to butter them up in an effort to gain control.  Make sure that 100% of your reinforcement comes from your heart. People will know by the look in your eyes if you mean it or you are just saying it.  Mean it!

  1. Create a positive culture of motivation

Motivation comes from within a person. If you try to manipulate the situation by providing perks to motivate the workers, you will fail. “Motivate” is not something you can do to another person; rather it is something a person does alone. Work to create the kind of environment where the workers decide this is a better place to work than before. They will motivate themselves in short order. 

  1. Be humble

People do not warm up to a braggart. Trying to impress them with your Harvard MBA will set you back in terms of your ability to lead.  People relate to someone who is genuine and willing to learn from them.  That attitude is far more effective than trying to win them over with your own prestigious background.

  1. Care

There is a saying that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That is really the secret to effective leadership of people who are older than you.

Conclusion

Once you have built confidence in yourself as a leader, the issue of age goes away quickly. You have overcome a stumbling block that trips many bright young leaders.  I grant that it is possible to muscle in and force compliance with an older population. The problem is that compliance is another word for mediocrity.  What you need from people is brilliant engagement. That is what you will get if you follow the ten tips above.

 

 

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, 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 www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763.

 


Building Higher Trust 76 Trust But Verify

June 17, 2022

The phrase “Trust but verify” was made famous by Ronald Reagan. He used it in December 1987 after the signing of the INF Treaty with Mikhail Gorbachev. The Russian leader quipped, “You repeat that at every meeting,” to which Reagan replied, “I like it.” The origin of the phrase is actually from a Russian proverb, “doveryai no proveryai” (Trust but verify ). 

Last year, I read the notion by one trust expert, “If you have to verify, it isn’t trust.”  I got into a similar discussion last week with a local friend. I wanted to give my opinion on the matter because the conundrum is interesting.

The phrase is an oxymoron

The concept of “trust but verify” being an oxymoron makes sense because the word “but” is often an eraser word.  When used in a comparative context, the conjunction “but” renders whatever comes before it as moot. If I say, “I liked your book, but it was too long,” what is the meaning? Normally what you interpret is that I did not like the book.

Don’t apply blind trust

The need to verify implies that complete trust in the other party is lacking.  I am troubled by that because it implies that in order to be real trust, it must be blind. The concept of blind trust is covered in Smart Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey. He says that blind trust is not the best strategy to employ in a low-trust world. Sure, we can point to exceptions, and yet the general rule is wise. Try asking the former clients of Bernie Madoff. Most of them would have achieved a better result if they had verified.

“Though we’ve become very good at recognizing the cost of trusting too much, we’re not nearly as good at recognizing the cost of not trusting enough.”  Stephen M.R. Covey.

The point is that when we extend more trust to others, we will normally receive more trust in return. I call that “The first law of trust.”

A Better phrase to use

Consider changing the phrase from “Trust but verify” to “Trust and confirm.” That might make the phrase less of a dichotomy and make it more operational.  The reason we must confirm is that there is a finite chance that the person did not understand.

When we confirm that our expectations were met, we reduce the chance of being disappointed in the result. The reason I like the second phrase better is that the more inclusive conjunction “and” replaces the exclusive conjunction “but.” 

The confirmation process is the due diligence that recognizes the fact that activities do not happen in a vacuum. We often act as the agents for others as we trust someone to perform a task.  Confirming that things are correct is just being prudent and being true to the trust others have in us. If people know we are responsible by confirmation, they will be more likely to perform to a high standard.

“Trust and confirm” does not sound like an oxymoron to me. The concept of “trust and confirm” leaves the concept of trust more intact than “trust but verify.”  It is not just a matter of semantics.

Conclusion

The words we choose make a difference in how people interpret meaning. You will have a better result if you avoid using the phrase “trust but verify.” By using “trust and confirm” you will send an unambiguous message that avoids blind trust.

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, 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 www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763.