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. 

 


Leadership Barometer 155 Are You a Great Leader?

July 20, 2022

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

I have studied the traits of leaders for over 40 years. I have studied leadership from the inside out and the outside in.  This education has led me to conclude that there are signposts or primary indicators of people who are elite leaders. 

Test Your Leadership

Answer these eight questions honestly.

  1. Are you a magnet for high-potential people?

Great leaders are so much fun to be around and to work for that the very best people are clamoring for a chance to work for them. Great leaders are eternally passionate about developing people (including themselves).

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

Poor leaders struggle against the demands of the job.    Great leaders are relaxed and having a ball. They enjoy being themselves and performing at a high rate without fretting about being perfect. They are more focused on growing other leaders and doing what they believe is right.

  1. Do you live the values at all times?

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

  1. Do you continually invest in higher trust?

Trust is the lubricant that allows organizations to work amid the cacophony of seemingly conflicting friction and priorities. Great leaders know trust depends on them and invest in it every single moment without failure.

  1. Do you readily admit mistakes?

When the chips are down, few leaders actually have the capability to admit a mistake. Instead, try to find ways to deflect culpability.

  1. Do you listen deeply?

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

  1. Do you build a truly genuine reinforcing culture?

The rules of good reinforcement are well known. Many leaders exude a kind of plastic reinforcement that is manipulative in its intent.

  1. Do you hold people accountable the right way?

Most people do good or excellent work, yet they are held “accountable” only when they mess up. If we changed the paradigm such that people are accountable for the positive things as well as the shortcomings, it would change the entire equation.  I call this skill “holding people procountable.”

Conclusion

There are literally thousands of leadership behaviors that make up the total performance characteristics for any leader. I believe if you can honestly answer “YES!” to all eight of the above questions, you are one of the elite leaders of our time.  Congratulations! 

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, 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

 


Reducing Conflict 50 Your Choice

July 18, 2022

It is your choice how you live your life. Just for a moment, take a guess at what percentage of the world’s population woke up today with a mindset of peace and happiness.

Some people are living in the lap of luxury, yet they are totally miserable. Many other people live in horrible conditions but have risen above them by changing their mindset. They have found a way to live a good and satisfying life despite the hardships of an unfair world.

After years of study, I found a quote that sums it up for me. “The quality of your life is a reflection of what is going on in between your ears.”

Problems are everywhere

Think of the people who don’t know if they will have anything to eat today. Consider those who want to destroy other people. How about those who haven’t a clue how they are going to survive financially or physically? Include those who believe they must steal in some way from others in order to survive today.  

My estimate

My own estimate only a small portion of people currently living on earth are actually living up to their potential. Others are trying to exist in a perpetual struggle each day and draw one day closer to their grave. In the richest country on the planet, many people survive at the most basic level. There is little hope or optimism for a rewarding life. Some people buy guns for the purpose of killing others or for “protecting themselves” by killing others. I think it is really sad.

Think of the potential

Now let’s flip to the other extreme. Whenever a new human infant pops out of the womb, think about the potential that little package represents. Every soul has the potential to become someone of significant positive value to the world.  What are the odds that a particular infant will grow up to be a Mother Theresa or a Nelson Mandela?  The odds are infinitesimal, so much of the wonderful potential that is born with each new baby disappears. 

How about you?

Now let me bend your mind a bit more.  If you live a comfortable and productive life, do you use your good fortune to make a difference? You have a choice just to enjoy your luck as you move through life, or you can make a difference in the world. It may seem like lunacy to actually try to make a difference because the problems are so immense. You can shrug your shoulders and go for hedonism, or choose to dig in and try anyway.  It reminds me of a line from an old song by Buffy Sainte-Marie. “Ah, what can I do say a powerless few? With a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, can’t you see that their poverty’s profiting you?”

Conclusion

There is no solution to this musing and no magic wand to wave that will have a noticeable impact. I just wanted to recall that the choice of what I do with my gifts is mine. 

I need to realize that if I decide to make a small change in the world, that is a good thing.  If enough of us do some good things, the aggregate impact may be large enough to notice. So, I rededicate myself to helping to grow leaders in every way I know how. That is the gift I bring to the world and my reason for living. I invite you to join me and live your purpose too.

 

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


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.


Leadership Barometer 154 Teams and Kindergarten

July 13, 2022

We have all heard the phrase, “All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten.” It came from a book written by Robert Fulgham in 1993 that later became a series of books and tapes.  His five key points bear repeating when we think about teamwork. They are: 

Five Rules for Teams

  1. Share everything,
  2. Play fair,
  3. Don’t hit people,
  4. Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone, and
  5. Take a break in the afternoon for cookies. 

 Doing what is simple and right is a prerequisite for getting along in this world.  Let’s examine this primitive, but profound wisdom as it relates to teams.

Share Everything

Teams exist to accomplish some kind of a goal. There is always an objective, whether it is winning a football game or gaining a new client. If you are on a team that has no reason to exist, resign. You are wasting your precious time.

Once everyone on the team understands the vision, the path is clear to figure out how to do it. For that, you need the participation of everyone, not just the leader or a few aggressive members.  The magic of a team is the diverse ideas in the heads of all members. People who keep their ideas to themselves rob the team of the creative juices necessary for outstanding results.

Play Fair

This rule seems so obvious as to be trivial. It actually is often a huge roadblock in effective team dynamics. How can this be? It is because what seems fair to me, may not seem fair to you.  I had a student tell me once, “I am the kind of person who does what he thinks is right.”  Can you imagine someone going around doing what he/she thinks is wrong? I can’t.

Most of the time people “play fair” according to their own set of beliefs, values, and circumstances.  There are times when an avalanche of unexpected disasters happen, whether at work, at home, or a combination of both. In these days of chaos in our lives, it is easy to get buried in competing commitments. It is important that the person affected be upfront with the team and arrange for cover.

For most people, an occasional let down can be forgiven, especially in these difficult times.  Some people have a steady stream of “emergency” situations. They may have serious acute or chronic health issues. They may be dealing with a dying family member. It may take time for the situation to be resolved.

In these situations it is up to the team to be supportive. Work out solutions to keep the flow going. On good teams, the members support each other. Follow the Golden Rule.

Don’t Hit People

When we get frustrated enough, we tend to lose perspective. It is part of the human condition. When a team member is far enough out of line, other members “attack” the problem person. Naturally, since this person was “playing fair” according to his/her perspective, he/she becomes angry and defensive. A battle emerges because each party honestly believes the other person is acting irrationally.

We need to show empathy for other team members and not be so quick to judge their situation. A hallmark of good teamwork is that the members show that they care for each other.

Say You’re Sorry when you Hurt Someone

Sincere humility is the balm that heals up team wounds. Recognize that, in the heat of battle, things may become overheated. You will know this when it happens to you. An echo will bounce back from a note you sent that has a bad taste. You immediately know that you have angered a team member or, at least confused him/her.  This is the time to send a humble apology. You can restate the goal and reiterate your commitment to the team as well. This must be followed by a change in action, or it will not work.

Take a break in the afternoon for cookies

Working in teams is actually hard work. Not only must you do the assigned task, you need to keep people from getting on each other’s nerves. That means the stress level is sometimes high. It is important to take a break and have some “cookies” from time to time. Realize most of the “problems” that are driving you crazy today will be unimportant to you in a week or so. When you take the time to celebrate the small wins along the way, it rejuvenates the team for the next round. Be lavish (but sincere) with your praise and thanks to other team members and they will appreciate it.  Every “thank you” is a chocolate chip in the cookie of life.

Conclusion

These five team rules form a good core of actions that can take away a lot of typical team struggles.  Make sure that your team adopts the rules and practices them regularly.

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

 


Reducing Conflict 49 Little White Lies

July 11, 2022

I suspect there is not a soul alive that has not told white lies at some point. Even though our parents taught us to tell the truth, sooner or later we have all violated the rule. If you have never told a lie, write to me and I will nominate you for sainthood. The thing about lies is that you can usually detect them by observing the person’s body language.

Lying to my manager

I recall one incident when my manager asked me if I had read a particular book. I said yes, but I really had not read it.  I was pretty sure he saw through the fib. There must have been a dozen ways my body was saying “no” while my mouth was saying “yes.” What is fascinating is the huge array of body language that is going on all of the time. It never stops. Most of the body language we send out is unconscious so our lies are easy to detect.

Watch the eyes

We see that kind of deception in children most easily. If you ask Johnny who tipped over the vase, he will shrug his shoulders indicating he does not know.  If you ask “was it you,” he will say “no.”  He is afraid he will be in trouble if he tells the truth.  But all parents know to watch their eyes for the truth. The mother knows instantly that Johnny not only knows who broke the vase but that it was him.  We teach our children that the bigger sin is to hide the truth than to break the vase, but only some of them learn the lesson.

Politicians are experts at lying

It is sad that so many people in positions of authority never did learn that lesson. Time after time we catch them in half-truths or big lies. It is so common with politicians or celebrities that we end up wondering if we can trust any of them. I am sure some of them can be, but my first inclination is to not believe what any of them say. This is particularly true if they broke the vase.  They might say it is a “no-spin zone,” but if you believe that I have a bridge I want to sell you.

What adults need to realize is what we try to teach our children. It is better to be honest and admit mistakes because all human beings are fallible. Lying about a misstep gives us away because we cannot hide our subconscious body language. Next time you are tempted to tell a half-truth, remember that your credibility is on the line, and do not follow the example of many public figures who frequently embarrass themselves.

Admitting mistakes actually increases trust

I discovered many years ago that admitting a mistake is a good way to build rather than destroy trust. People will take notice when you consciously blow yourself in when you might have escaped with a lie.  Build a reputation for yourself as a straight shooter. It is worth the effort.

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


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.

 


Leadership Barometer 153 Two Views of Change

July 5, 2022

At the start of a new year, many people make resolutions to change for the future. Most of the resolutions have been set aside a couple of months later. How is change working in your professional and personal life?

When we were babies, change was always a welcome event that made us more comfortable.  As we grew older, change became more of a threat that often made us feel more uncomfortable, at least for a while.

We are all aware that change is all around us, and it takes many forms. In this article, I want to put two kinds of change under the microscope and discuss why both are important for our lives. 

Incremental Change

You have heard the saying, “In every day in every way I am getting better and better.”  That statement is describing incremental change because it bases our improvement on what we already know how to do.  Moving from our present state of knowledge and making creative tweaks to the formula propels us forward.

There is comfort with incremental change because the new technique is close to what we already know. There is risk in these steps, but the risk is small, and we can always revert to the prior method if we fail. That is why so many New Year’s Resolutions do not produce permanent change.

The power of incremental change relies on the relentless application to it. We should seek to improve our current process just a little bit every day. Before long we have made fantastic strides toward efficiency and productivity. 

One downside of incremental change is that we can always make modifications that turn out to be in the wrong direction.  Sometimes we cannot tell until weeks down the road. The change we make today may be a tiny bit worse than what we were doing yesterday.  It is often difficult to tell at the moment if the small changes we are making are in the right or the wrong direction. 

Revolutionary Change 

This kind of change happens when we keep the same objective but throw out the old process entirely and begin a whole new paradigm. The downside with revolutionary change is a high risk of failure, but the payoff is high if it succeeds.

A good example of revolutionary change occurred in 1965 in the sport of high jumping.  Throughout history, jumpers used a kind of “belly down” approach to getting maximum height over the bar. The technique was called “The Western Roll.” Jumpers would flatten out with stomach down and kick at just the right time to get over the bar.

Along came Dick Fosbury, who decided to go over the bar backward with his back to the ground. They named the technique “The Fosbury Flop.” Dick won the gold medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City using his technique. To this day, The Fosbury Flop is the most popular method for high jumping. 

We often see examples of revolutionary change in common products.  In olden days, people used to fumble with buttons or zippers in winter to keep out the wind. That was before George De Mestral patented Velcro in 1955. It seems like a simple invention 65 years later, but then it was revolutionary.

The challenge with revolutionary change is that it is so radical we often reject it as being absurd. Even when a proposed revolutionary change fails, there are often parts of it that have merit. They can be useful when applied in a slightly different way.

Conclusion

It is this combination of revolutionary ideas in conjunction with incremental changes that have the most power for organizations. Seek to improve the products you make and the processes you use. To maximize forward progress, use both incremental and revolutionary change methods.  

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

 


Reducing Conflict 48 Wait Your Turn

July 4, 2022

Ever since we were children, we have had to wait our turn. The world has numerous individuals who all have needs. The services available to attend to those needs are pitifully inadequate to meet them all at once. Hence, the need for a cue and a triage process. Hospitals deal with this problem every hour of every day. The decision process is complex, but the hospitals have a routine and do it by rote.

Nursing Homes

Other institutions handle the problem of priority with varying degrees of skill.  For example, some nursing homes are quite good at assessing the needs of individuals. Unfortunately, many of them are so understaffed, the residents often feel abused when they have a personal need. They have to wait long periods for assistance. Attempts to gain higher priority by several different methods, like calling out every 15 seconds, usually backfire. These attempts to get attention put that person lower on the priority list than those who humbly wait.

My own story

For the person waiting, it seems so unfair and annoying. I learned that lesson when I was in high school. One cold winter night, I had finished my homework and decided to take a hot bath before going to bed.  My Dad was out of town on business, and my Mom was out at an art class.  No problem; I was 17 years old.  I got in the hot tub and gleefully soaked for as long as I could stand. Then I got out of the tub to dry off.

I remember grabbing the towel, then immediately blacked out from the lack of oxygen.  The next conscious moment, I was on the floor of the bathroom with blood all over the place. I had fallen, hitting my chin on the tub, resulting in a gaping cut that would require stitches for sure.

I called the place where Mom was taking her art class and told them to send her home for an “emergency.”  Can you imagine how cruel that was to do to my mother? She had no idea what the emergency was!

She came screaming home and transported me to the emergency room of the hospital several blocks from our home. I sat in the waiting room of the hospital for over an hour with a towel to sop up the blood. They took me into the triage room and started to work on me.  Then, it seemed that the attention went elsewhere. There was a bunch of activity in the room next to me and all of the staff went over there.

The sad truth

I was very upset because I had to wait longer to get treatment.  After another hour, they came back and stitched me up.  When I complained, they told me that a man had a heart attack, and he died.  It turned out that the man was the father of one of my friends.  Ten minutes earlier I was feeling sorry for myself, and now I realized my problem was nothing compared to what was going on just a few feet down the hall. That was a memorable moment for me.

Summary 

Never assume you know the full extent of the load on service providers and be patient when other people are getting attention.

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


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.