Leadership Barometer 101 Leaders Create Meaning

July 14, 2021

Too many people go to work each day in a zombie-like state where they go through the motions all day and try to stay out of trouble with the boss.

Work life is a meaningless array of busywork foisted upon them by the clueless morons who run the place.

They hate the environment and intensely dislike their co-workers. Their suffering is tolerated only because there is no viable option for them to survive.  What a pity that anyone would spend even a single day on this earth in such a hopeless atmosphere. 

We can fault the individuals who allow themselves to be trapped in this way, but I believe the environment created by leaders has a great deal to do with this malaise. Reason: if you put these same individuals in an environment of trust and challenge, nearly all of them would quickly rise up to become happy and productive workers.

Find Real Meaning

It is essential that each individual in the workforce find real meaning in the work being done, and the responsibility is on leaders to make that happen.

Some good research into this conundrum was presented by Viktor Frankl 75 years ago in his famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl posits that it “is a peculiarity of man that he must have something significant yet to do in his life, for that is what gives meaning to life.” 

Frankl discovered this universally human trait while surviving the most horrible of life conditions in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. One cannot imagine a more oppressive environment, but believe it or not, many people at work feel like they are in a kind of concentration camp. The antidote is for leaders to create something significant yet to do.

 

Dave and Wendy Ulrich, co-authors of The Why of Work put it this way. “In organizations, meaning and abundance are more about what we do with what we have than about what we have to begin with.”  They point out that workers are in some ways like volunteers who can choose where they allocate their time and energy.  For their own peace and health, it is imperative that workers feel connected to the meaning of their work.

What can leaders do to ensure the maximum number of people have a sense of purpose and meaning in their work?  Here are a dozen ideas that can help.

  1. Create a positive vision of the future. Vision is critical because without it people see no sense of direction for their work. If we have a common goal, then it is possible to actually get excited about the future.
  2. Generate trust. Trust is the glue that holds people together in a framework of positive purpose. Without trust, we are just playing games with each other hoping to get through the day unscathed. The most significant way leaders help create trust is by rewarding candor, which is accomplished by not punishing people for speaking their truth.
  3. Build morale the right way. This means not trying to motivate people by adding hygiene factors like picnics, bonuses, or hat days. Motivate people by treating them with respect and giving them autonomy. Leaders do not motivate people, rather they create the environment where people decide whether to become motivated.  This sounds like doubletalk, but it is a powerful message most leaders do not understand.
  4. Recognize and celebrate excellence. Reinforcement is the most powerful tool leaders have for changing behavior. Leaders need to learn how to reinforce well and avoid the mine-field of reinforcement mistakes that are easy to make.
  5. Treat people right. In most cases focusing on the Golden Rule works well. In some extreme cases, the Golden Rule will not be wise because not all individuals want to be treated the same way. Use of the Platinum Rule (Treat others the way they would like to be treated.) is helpful as long as it is not taken to a literal extreme.
  6. Communicate more and better. People have an unquenchable thirst for information. Lack of communication is the most often mentioned grievance in any organization. Get some good training on how to communicate in all modes and practice all the time.
  7. Unleash maximum discretionary effort in people. People give effort to the organization out of choice, not out of duty. Understand what drives individuals to make a contribution and be sure to provide that element daily. Do not try to apply the same techniques to all individuals or all situations.
  8. Have high ethical and moral standards. Operate from a set of values and make sure people know why those values are important. Leaders need to always live their values.
  9. Lead change well. Change processes are in play in every organization daily, yet most leaders are poor at managing change.  Study the techniques of successful change so people do not become confused and disoriented.
  10. Challenge people and set high expectations. People will rise to a challenge if it is properly presented and managed. Challenged individuals are people who have found meaning in their work.
  11. Operate with high Emotional Intelligence. The ability to work well with people, upward, sideways, and downward allows things to work smoothly. Without Emotional Intelligence, leaders do not have the ability to transform intentions into meaning within people.
  12. Build High Performing Teams. A sense of purpose is enhanced if there is a kind of peer pressure brought on by good teamwork. Foster great togetherness of teams so people will relate to their tasks instinctively.

This is a substantial list of items, but most of them are common sense. Unfortunately, they are not common practice in most organizations. If you want to have people rise to their level of potential, they must all have a sense of meaning. To accomplish that, focus on the above items, and see a remarkable transformation in your organization.

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.


Talent Development 46 Outcome Statements

July 12, 2021

Section 2.2 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Instructional Design. Section B states, “Skill in developing learning and behavioral outcome statements.”

An outcome statement is intended to identify how the participants will be changed as a result of the training. They will have a different perspective from before the event and have a new life skill they can use in the future.

This section is rather straight forward.  You must be able to articulate what participants in the training will be able to do following the training.  The challenge here seems simple enough, but there are a few precautions and opportunities we need to address here. 

For this article, I will use a live example of a training program I once did on how to improve the creativity level for a professional group. A similar analysis could be done for any proposed training program. In this specific case, I was doing a training event for a team of 12 technically-oriented trainers.

Starting From Different Backgrounds

Each person was starting from a different perspective relative to creativity. A couple of individuals had specific training on creativity in their post-college courses.  There was one person who was a professional artist on the side. Another individual worked in a “think tank” environment for over 12 years.  Two people had patents to their name. Three of the individuals had no formal background in creativity at all.

For this class, I advertised that an outcome statement was to make participants familiar with how to use brainstorming techniques to improve the creativity of their solutions.  There was also a second outcome statement that I did not reveal until later in the day.

Creative Methods

As a group, this team liked to use what I call “busy hand” toys as a way to enhance their learning and have some creative fun.  We used about 10 different toys from small puzzles to pipe cleaners and “Lego® Bricks.”  The idea was to augment the intellectual learning with physical manipulative activities as a way to increase enjoyment and allow the creativity to blossom.

At one point, I split the group up into two teams. I gave each team an identical set of Tinker Toys®.  The challenge I set out for the teams was to “build the highest freestanding structure they could with the materials given.” As the teams began to brainstorm how they would approach the challenge they gained significant enthusiasm. They became excited as they discussed different ways to construct a tower. They started building their towers; one group worked from the floor and the other from a table top. 

Once they had reached the maximum height, I measured each tower with a tape measure.  One group beat out the other by over six inches. I then asked the group if they had accomplished the objective of the exercise.

They looked puzzled, so I pointed to the chart where I had written the instructions for all to read during the exercise: “build the highest freestanding structure you can with the materials given.”

They thought that they had accomplished the task well until I revealed the second outcome. Nowhere in the instructions was it stated that the teams could not pool their materials together and work as a larger team.  They just assumed that they were confined to the teams as originally selected.

Outcome Statement

Before the exercise, I had created two outcome statements. The second one was that I wanted everyone in the room to learn to attack a particular challenge with fresh eyes, and not be constrained by conventional thinking.  Once they were able to let go of their self-imposed constraint and pool the materials, the entire group was able to assemble a structure nearly two feet higher than either of the teams originally did.

This exercise served to illustrate how creativity is often stifled by self-imposed limitations, and if those limitations can be exposed it leads to much better outcomes. The entire class learned some valuable lessons that day. First, they learned how to get creative with Tinker Toys and build some towers. Second, and much more important, they learned that sometimes silo thinking makes groups work in competition when there is an alternative to get a better result by working together.

Sometimes you can generate more enthusiasm if the entire Outcome Statement is not  revealed in advance.  As was the case in this example, when the group discovered and stumbled on the most important message, it led to some significant learning that will be long remembered by the group.

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. 


Mastering Mentoring 1 A New Series

July 10, 2021

I have been writing a series called “Leadership Barometer” for the past couple years. Thus far there are 100 articles in the series.  At this point I am not tapped out, so  that series will continue, but there is a subset topic that deserves a new series of its own. The topic is mentoring: specifically mentoring for leaders.

My observation has been that there are many candidates to become great leaders, but the world still suffers from a shortage of great leaders. The problem is not having enough candidates but having adequate teachers. When teaching skills such as leadership, we usually refer to the activity as “mentoring.”

The reason so few high caliber leaders take the time to mentor other leaders is that they are so consumed with being successful themselves; there is very little time to mentor others.  I consider that mindset as a big mistake. Unfortunately, the problem is very common.

For this series, I will use my experience to recall many techniques that I have found helpful when mentoring would-be leaders.  I will also share some caveats or things that do not seem to work very well.  Each article will focus on just one facet of mentoring.

One negative practice has sunk many a well-intended mentoring effort. If we start to think of a mentoring effort as a “program,” we start off on the wrong foot.  Often groups will do a kind of “matching” effort in order to pair people who should work well together.

The more senior person (called the mentor) is introduced to a protege, with whom he or she will work in the future. This mechanical pairing of people has a low batting average in terms of a solid long term mentoring relationship. The reason is simple; to achieve a sustainable effort both parties must benefit by the relationship.

The way to avoid this common trap is to not think of mentoring as a program. Instead, encourage individuals to seek out a person who would resonate with them personally and who is willing to provide access. Don’t over administer the relationship with fixed meeting schedules or forms to fill out.  Let the relationship progress at a rate and with such tools as the two people invent themselves.

This “ownership” by both parties is a critical first step.  Each party will be interested in making the relationship work and be willing to invest time and effort into a process that they mutually own.

In my own case, I was blessed with a very strong mentoring relationship with a senior leader.  We did not call it “mentoring,” we just had a very close relationship where we both got large advantages out of spending time together. There was no paperwork or fixed schedules to adhere to, rather the interfaces occurred naturally as the opportunities for coaching became evident.

Communication was almost daily, and it was mostly done through the mode that was most comfortable for the mentor. In this case voice mail was used extensively to coach each other. I, the protege, gained insights and techniques in the form of ideas or suggestions. My mentor gained by my sharing my observations of how my mentor was engaging the entire population. So, we were kind of coaching each other along on a daily basis for more than 25 years.

The first piece of advice in this series is to encourage the organic formation of mentoring relationships and do not over-administer the effort as a “program.”  You will be much more successful in the end.

 

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 29 Trust Recovery

July 9, 2021

When trust has been broken the path to repair it can be scary. In this article, I will outline the steps that should happen to have the best chance for a full recovery.  Recognize that not all trust betrayals can lead to a full recovery, but many of them can with the proper attitude and effort.

Step 1. Communicate a Potential Problem

As soon as you recognize that something happened between you and the other person that could compromise trust, you need to communicate that to the person.  Usually, it takes some courage to do this because a trust violation is often an ugly thing to behold. If you believe the relationship can be salvaged, then it is worth an uncomfortable conversation.

Step 2. Confirm that Both Parties are Interested in a Resolution

If the relationship was valuable to both parties, then it is worth some effort to at least attempt to repair the damage. If you go in with the attitude that you really enjoyed the trusting relationship you had before the lapse, then the other person will likely respond in kind.

Step 3. Each Person Shares his or her Perception of What Happened

This step is just a factual recount of the events. Who did what?  Sometimes this step will reveal a misunderstanding about what happened. If that is the case, then the repair is much easier to accomplish.

Step 4. Determine What Would Need to Change to Repair the Damage

This step could start with an apology, but it needs to go further. Trust has been damaged, and it will not get fixed by a simple “I’m sorry.” You need to think hard about what conditions need to be met in order to fully restore trust.  It may take some time, but this is a critical step in the process.

Step 5. Make a Concrete Plan

This plan should not be just good intentions.  It should include what each party is going to do differently in the future based on the prior steps. A good format for the plan would include who is going to do what by when. It is best to put the plan in writing.

Step 6. Execute the Plan

This sounds obvious, but it is where many people fail. They have good intentions when discussing things, but they do not have the fortitude, courage, or ability to actually do it. 

Step 7 Follow Up to Verify the Repair

This verification phase is critical to do because you can put the matter to rest once both parties agree that the plan was followed successfully. Both parties must express certainty that the repair to trust was actually made.

Conclusion

In most cases, it is possible to repair damaged trust, but it takes effort and an organized approach. If the relationship you had with the other person was valuable to both parties, then it is worth the effort to repair the damage and move forward. Again.

Bonus video

Here is a brief video on a Trust Recovery Process

 

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 100 Leaders Made or Born

July 7, 2021

The question of whether leaders are made or born is one of the more common issues in the literature on leadership. So much has been written on this one topic, it seems like there should be no need for a new article.  However, I come at the subject from a different perspective and reach a conclusion about leaders and leadership that may surprise you.

Are leaders made or born?  When someone asked Ken Blanchard that question, he answered “yes.”  That is a great answer because, indeed leaders are both born and made.

Everyone is born with some level of “leadership genes” in his or her DNA. Most people have a modest level of leadership potential based on this God-given latent talent.

Some individuals are born into a long line of effective or powerful leaders and have a kind of gift for rallying people to their cause even at a very early age.  John F. Kennedy is an example of this type of person. If you study his life, you will see that it would have been difficult for him to not grow up into a powerful political leader.  The same could have been said for Bobbie, and Ted.  Many people believe Ted would have been president if it had not been for Chappaquiddick.

I like to consider the less famous people and ask a simple question. What percentage of the adult population would have the ability to become at least decent leaders provided they were paired up with a great mentor who took the time to teach them how to lead and provided them with opportunities to grow into the role?  That question requires some serious thinking to answer.

There are three types of people who probably would never make decent leaders regardless of who coached them. People with very low mental capacity or Emotional Intelligence would not have the ability to make rational decisions, so they would not make good leaders as few people would willingly follow them.

Another group we need to exclude is people who are lazy and have absolutely no desire to lead. These people make poor leaders because they do not have the initiative and drive to get up every day and do the work.

A third category would be those people who are not willing to accept mentoring.

I contend that most of the people who do not fit into the categories above have the potential of becoming decent leaders, if they were properly mentored. My guess is that this leaves 60-70% of the population with the potential. You might quibble about another category and take the estimate down to 50% or so, but I believe that is as low we should go.

The interesting thing is that there are so few really good leaders in the world. In fact, I believe the lack of good leaders is a critical shortage that is limiting our world today. Yet, if my estimates above are in the ball park, there is no dearth of candidates, so what is the problem? The problem is a shortage of great mentors!

Most leaders are so consumed just trying to optimize their own leadership performance that they give little thought to the development of other leaders.  In my book that makes them not such great leaders after all.  My favorite quotation is one of my own: “The highest calling for any leader is to grow other leaders.”  If more leaders understood this, we could greatly accelerate the growth of a new generation of leaders.

I am dedicating the remainder of my professional life to the cause of getting more leaders to step up to their mentor responsibilities. I will be starting another series of articles on the topic of mentoring. The series will be called “Mastering Mentoring.”

 John Maxwell calls the impact of mentoring, the multiplier effect.  If each great leader took responsibility for generating at least 10 great leaders for the next generation, our world would be a much better place.  If you are a leader, consider if you are leveraging your talents in this way.  If not, it is never too late to start.

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.


Talent Development 45 Communications Strategy

July 5, 2021

Section 3.4 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Talent Strategy and Management. Section F states, “Skill in designing and implementing communication strategy in order to drive talent management objectives.”

All strategy needs to start with some fundamentals, and that is true for a communication strategy for talent management.  We need to start with a clear vision of where we are going.  Without that, we will flail around like a flag in a hurricane.

Knowing exactly where we are going with the talent development effort is always the first step.  Second, we need to create logical steps to get from our current position to the vision. 

It is essential to understand the gaps so people can visualize how our path will help us arrive at our objective in a finite period of time.  That specific plan is what we need to communicate to everyone involved. 

Sometimes we have the luxury of time to develop and communicate the plan in a logical manner, and sometimes we are forced to do it with blinding speed.

A Classic Example

For many groups, the date of March 13, 2020 sticks out as a prime example where speed was required. In numerous organizations, people went home from their work that Friday, and by Monday, March 16, the entire operation needed to be recast to allow people to work virtually. The pivot to pull off that feat required a kind of communication effort that few people could imagine just a few days earlier. 

That weekend was a scramble few people will ever forget. 

For the Talent Development professionals, the situation was just as chaotic. I recall teaching my leadership class live on Friday morning and having to retool my entire program over the weekend to be totally virtual. When there is no choice, it is amazing how quickly things can happen.

For most leaders, the need to retool how they communicated with people in the entire organization was just as abrupt.  Some people needed to upgrade their systems or borrow a laptop from work to allow a constancy of communication that was vital in those frantic days. The need for accurate information being given was even higher than before Covid hit. 

The Bar is Being Raised Even More

In his Trust Barometer, Richard Edelman described a shift that is ongoing.  When asked, “How many times to you need to hear something about an organization to believe it is true?” the answer used to be once or twice.  Currently the answer for most people is three to five times.

The need to be creative and frame up important communication in several different ways is a skill many leaders have not mastered yet. A simple “town hall” meeting is no longer adequate to convey important or complex information. Here is an idea of the steps needed to be sure information is conveyed accurately.

  1. Send out a meeting notice with the essence of the message to be conveyed.
  2. Have a meeting to convey the message in person or virtually.
  3. Ask the participants what they just heard (to verify the message).
  4. Follow up with an email explaining the message and the rationale.
  5. A week later, ask some people what they recall the announcement was.

Conclusion

The ability to communicate important concepts, like talent management objectives, is a lot more complex in the current environment than it was a few years ago.  I suspect the higher bar will be with us always, so we need to adjust our communication patterns accordingly.

 

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 28 The Will to Rebuild Trust

July 2, 2021

When faced with a trust betrayal, you need to do some serious soul searching. In many cases, it is possible to repair the damaged trust so that it comes back even stronger than it was before the betrayal. In other situations, it may be impossible to repair trust, and you have to cut your losses.

In this brief article I will highlight a few things to do and also some things to avoid.

Don’t Procrastinate

You may feel reluctant to sit down for a serious conversation with someone who has violated a trust.  You may be tempted to let time heal the wound.  That is a bad strategy, because the situation usually gets worse with time unless you have a significant intervention.

I liken it to a dead fish. The stink is only going to get worse with time. Seek first to understand what really happened. Approach the other person in a mature way and calmly state that you are feeling uncomfortable about something that has happened between the two of you.  State that you value the relationship and wish to understand what really happened. 

Misunderstanding

The conversation focusing on what actually occurred is the best first step.  The reason is that often what you think happened is not what really occurred, or there may be extenuating circumstances that you missed. 

If it turns out that your interpretation of what happened was correct, then calmly try to uncover why the other person let you down. The purpose at this point is not to find blame, but to build enough knowledge that you can brainstorm what kinds or remedial actions would help heal the wound. Make sure your body language sends that message.

Avoid Anger

Getting into a shouting match over what occurred is not going to serve the relationship well. Remain calm and put your energy into fully hearing the other person’s description. You may be anxious to talk about the end result of the betrayal while the other person is still trying to describe what caused the action to occur.

Listen

Put on your “listening hat” and focus on the message that is in the words, inflection, and body language.  If you are getting inconsistent signals from the words and the body language, dig into why the other person is being ambiguous.  Do this in a kind way with the intent to understand the person fully rather than an accusatory way trying to trip up the other person.

Managing the conversation when there has been a trust betrayal is extremely important because in most cases you can repair the damage and regain the trust that was lost by the betrayal.

Bonus video

Here is a brief video on The Will to Rebuild 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 99 Leading Without Bullying

June 30, 2021

As I was having breakfast today, I was gazing out the window watching some birds chase each other around the back yard.

I started thinking of the various animal species and the fact that in every group of animals, a certain amount of bullying behavior goes on. It is a “survival of the fittest” world in the animal kingdom. Maybe that is why we humans often exhibit some form of bullying behavior in order to get our way.

Bullying has become a key concept in our society. We see forms of it in every area from the school yard to Congress, from the boardroom to the barroom. We universally abhor the behavior in school kids, but yet we often see it practiced unchallenged as adults.

We know the incredible destructive nature of bullying because all of us have been bullied at some point in our lives, and we know it does not feel good. We know it leads to suicide in rare cases, especially in children, because they do not know how to cope with the powerless feeling of being bullied. They would simply rather die.

It is also true that each one of us has been guilty of bullying another person at some point. If you wish to deny that, you need to think harder. Some of us have played the role of the bully more than others. Some managers have it down to a fine art.

Unfortunately, people in power positions have a greater temptation to use bullying because it is a way to obtain compliance.  The problem is that, in organizations, mere compliance is not going to get the job done. We need people to engage in the work because they want to, not because they are forced to.

Organizational bullying takes the form of verbal abuse or strong body language.  It also occurs when headstrong managers become so fixated on their own agenda that it renders them effectively deaf to the ideas or concerns of others.

They become like a steamroller and push their agenda with little regard for what others think. In this area, there is a fine line between being a passionate, driving leader who really believes and advocates for the goal versus one who is willing to hear and consider alternate points of view.

While we are mammals, we have a more developed brain and greater power to reason than lesser species. If we use that power, we should realize that bullying behavior usually leads to the opposite of what we are trying to achieve. 

Bullying may seem like a convenient expedient, but it does not work well in the long run. The aptitude to plan and care is what separates man from the animal world.

If you are an elk, you are only thinking of the situation at hand and reacting to a threat to your life, power, or position. You are not thinking longer term about relationships and possible future alliances, nor do you care how your behaviors might inspire other elk to perform at their best.

Applying this logic in an organization is pretty simple. Managers who bully their way to get people to do their bidding are actually building up resentment and hostility.  While this may produce short term compliance, it works against objectives long term. By taking a kinder approach, managers can achieve more consistent results over the long haul and obtain full cooperation from people rather than simple compliance.

Here are ten tips to reduce the tendency to bully other people:

  1. Ask if you would want to be treated this way – Simply apply the Golden Rule.
  2. Observe the reaction and body language in other people – If they cower or retreat when you bark out commands, you are coming on too strong.
  3. Be sensitive to feedback – It takes courage to listen when someone tells you that you are being a bully. Ask for that feedback, and listen when it is given.
  4. Speak more softly and slowly – Yelling at people makes them feel bullied even if that is not your intention. When you get excited, lower rather than raise your voice.
  5. Ask for opinions often – Managers who seek knowledge as opposed to impressing their brilliance or agenda on others have less tendency to be bullies.
  6. Think before speaking – Ask yourself if this is the way to gain real commitment or just temporary compliance. Is it good for the culture?
  7. Reduce the number of absolutes you use – Saying “You never do anything right” cannot possibly be true. Soften absolutes to allow for some reason.
  8. Listen more and talk less – When you are shouting at people, you cannot possibly hear their rationale or their point of view. Hear people out; do not interrupt them.
  9. Don’t attack or abuse the weak – Just because you know an individual is too insecure to fight back is no reason to run over him or her. It only reveals your own weakness.
  10. Write your epitaph – Regarding your relationships with people close to you, how would you like to be remembered after you are gone?

My breakfast observation for today was that animals have a hard time following the Golden Rule, and there is a bully in every group. We humans have the power to modify our behavior to think more strategically and do things that are not only right for now, but right for the long term. Caring for people creates a culture of trust that is sustainable.

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.


Talent Development 44 Develop Performance Improvement Solutions

June 28, 2021

Section 3.5 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Performance Improvement. Section B states, “Skill in designing and developing performance improvement solutions to address performance gaps.”

To develop solutions to address performance gaps, first of all you need to know precisely what those gaps are. You must measure current performance against some kind of ideal in order to identify the gaps accurately.

In my leadership work, I do this through a set of instruments that measure the gaps in numerous areas to identify which ones are most critical to improve. I have a series of 10 different surveys that I will apply (sparingly) depending on the specific group I am attempting to help.  I never use more than two surveys to avoid survey fatigue. 

The two most frequently used surveys are the CEO and HR Manager Evaluation and the Trust Survey. I will describe each of these instruments and tell how I use them. 

CEO and HR Manager

This survey contains about 100 different areas of leadership. The individual skills are divided into the following categories.

  • Leadership Topics (including Trust)
  • Planning for Growth and Change
  • Critical Political Skills
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Building Improvement Skills
  • Techniques of Outstanding Communication
  • Creating Balance at Work and Your Life

Under each topic area I have listed eight to 14 specific leadership skills.

To identify the most important gaps, I ask the entire leadership team to rate each item on the following scale:

  • 0 = no need
  • 1 = Low need – maintenance item
  • 2 = Medium need – important
  • 3 = High need – urgent

 That process gives me a numerical score when I combine the collective input. From that scan, I can identify the most critical needs for improvement very quickly. I then match the profile of needs with a set of training modules I have already developed in order to create a proposal that will match the most critical gaps for that particular group.

Trust Survey

A second instrument is a measure of the areas where managers are doing well or poorly on developing trust within the organization. It starts with a few demographic questions. The most important of these is the level in the organization. 

It turns out that most senior leaders have a much rosier estimate of the trust levels than do the lower levels of management.  I like to check the covariance by level.

Then I ask each person to rate the level of trust for the entire organization on a scale of 1-10.  This is followed by two sections designed to highlight which areas of trust need the most work.

I do this by giving 16 positive statements (like “managers here are highly ethical.”) Using a seven-step Likert Scale, I determine what areas are strong and what ones are weak.

I then reverse the Likert Scale and ask 14 negative statements (like “Managers and Supervisors here play favorites.”) The reversed scale allows me to, once again, determine areas of strength or weakness.

I usually administer the trust survey across the entire population that is contemplating some development work. 

Pinpoint Gaps

Using these two instruments, I can assess performance gaps quickly and turn around a training proposal in just a few days. Managers are astonished at how accurately the report identifies the most urgent needs.

For example, in most organizations the area of holding people accountable properly scores very low, so I often include a module on that aspect of leadership in my training.

These are just two examples of how I go about identifying the critical gaps in skills in order to ensure my training programs have the maximum impact without spending time on needless topics. That is a part of delivering high impact to my clients.

 

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 27 Trust Betrayals

June 25, 2021

A total breach of trust can take your breath away because it violates a sacred bond between two people.

There was a connection that was solid and true, but all of a sudden something happened that appeared to violate everything the relationship was built on. Here is an example of a trust violation from my experience.

I was Mike’s boss, and we had a relationship built on trust. Mike was a manager in my Division. We had been together a long time, and I knew him well. 

Mike knew that I always put a high premium on honest communication, so when I heard a rumor that he was having an inappropriate relationship with a female employee reporting to him, I could not believe it. After all, Mike was an upstanding pillar of the community with a wife and four kids. He was also the leader of a large bible study group at his church.

Several weeks later, I was provided indisputable evidence that he actually was having an affair with the female employee reporting to him.  Since this was totally out of character for Mike, I stopped into his office one day to confront the situation. 

I shared that I had heard a rumor that turned out to be true, and that I was extremely disappointed.  Mike looked me straight in the eye and said it was not true: there was no affair and no relationship. 

He lied to my face in order to get out of a tough spot. Obviously, the lie cut me much more deeply than his sexual indiscretions did.

In this case the damage was irreparable because all trust was lost.  Mike had to find another job, because I could no longer have him reporting to me.  When trust is totally violated, it is sometimes impossible to rebuild. 

First Question

The first question after a trust betrayal is whether the relationship can be salvaged or not. If it can be, then take steps in that direction immediately, if not, then you must take your lumps and end the relationship.

When a trust betrayal happens, both parties usually feel awful about it. It is important to move quickly to confront the situation.  Sitting on the problem will not resolve it, and it will make you feel worse. Do not just float along pretending the problem had not occurred. That does a total disservice to the valuable relationship you had. Often there are steps that can repair broken trust.

The first question to ask is whether the relationship is salvageable. It is an important decision because sometimes the violation is so serious, there is no going back, as was the case with Mike. When a trust violation occurs, the question to ask is “do I feel strongly enough about our relationship to find some way to patch it up or is it over.”

A Better Outcome

Here is a case where a misunderstanding nearly ended a strong relationship.

I trusted Martha completely, but then I found out she tried to steal a resource out from under me. I felt totally violated, but decided our relationship was worth saving. I arranged to meet with her so we could get to the bottom of the problem. It took a lot of courage to confront her, but I am glad I did. 

The first point I established was that we both felt rotten, and wanted to recover our former relationship of trust. Once we agreed to invest in the relationship, we were able to share the facts, apologize, and generate a plan for renewal. 

Actually, in this case, as often happens, there was a misunderstanding, so the repair process worked out for us. By sharing facts and discussing future intent as adults, the violation was repaired.

This case was a great example of when trust is repaired quickly after a violation. In such circumstances, the relationship can end up stronger than it was before the problem occurred.  The process is to:

  • open the lines of communication,
  • confirm that the relationship can be saved,
  • share with each other your perception of what happened,
  • determine what things would need to happen for full redemption,
  • make a plan,
  • and follow through with the plan.

It is very much like marriage counseling.

Exercise for you: Today think about a relationship in your life that has gone sour, but that you wish could be brought back to life.  Relive the experience and pay special attention to how you felt at the time.

Would you play the scene differently if you had the opportunity to do it over? Meet with the person and find out if the feeling is mutual. If it is, then make the investment in time and energy to salvage trust.  You may find it to be stronger than ever after you do.

Recognize that not every relationship can be saved. It is a matter of deep introspection, and it really depends on the nature of the violation as well as the character of the people involved.  Making a conscious effort to repair lost trust is a blessing in your life because in many cases it can restore a precious bond. That is an enriching experience.

 Bonus video

Here is a brief video relative to trust and betrayal.

 

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.