Building Higher Trust 19 Reinforce Candor

April 30, 2021

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the first part of my Building Higher Trust Model, which was Table Stakes. These elements are prerequisites to building trust. If they are missing, there is no way for a leader to build real trust.

Last week’s article was about “Enabling Actions.” These elements are not required to build trust, but the more you can practice them the more trust you will build.

This week I want to discuss the grand daddy of all the behaviors that will help leaders build higher trust. It is called “Reinforce Candor.”

Let’s examine why I believe these two strange-sounding words are the magic key to great leadership.

Reinforce Candor

According to Webster, candor simply means frankness. It is the ability to tell an individual exactly what you believe to be true without mincing words. To reinforce individuals is to praise them when they do something.

Leaders go about their day making decisions or advocating actions that they honestly believe are the right things to do. If someone in the organization speaks up with a contrary opinion of what to do, it is only natural for leaders to become defensive and make the person who is being candid feel bad about doing it.

If leaders can take the opportunity to hear the person out without being judgmental, then they reinforce the person’s candor. The person will end up glad that he brought it up rather than sorry.

The concept is called “psychological safety” by Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School. She maintains that organizations where people feel it is safe to bring up things that may seem to be contrary to the current path they are on creates more successful organizations. Here is a link to her Ted Talk, “Building a Psychologically Safe Workplace” on the subject.

What Leaders Need to Do

How would leaders go about making workers who are candid feel glad they bring up scary things? They do it by not punishing but by reinforcing their candor.

For most leaders, that behavior is nearly impossible simply because they believe deep down that the action they were advocating is the right thing to do. Hence, if an employee advocates a different view, that person must be wrong. That belief leads the leaders to either ignore the employee or push back in a defensive way. This reaction is only human nature, but it definitely does not reinforce the employee’s candor.

Leaders need to realize that they wear an “I AM RIGHT” button all day every day. Sometimes leaders have a hard time believing me when I tell them this trait, but after thinking about their mental processes with some guidance, almost all of them can agree they do wear the button. The reason is that the button is consistent with human nature.

The revelation comes when I pass out buttons to everyone in the room and suggest to the leaders when someone brings up a contrary thought, that the first order of business is to see the invisible “I AM RIGHT” button that the other person is wearing. That action will change the leader’s body language from one of hostility to one of curiosity; now we are half way home.

Couple the curiosity with respect for the individual and you will have the magic solution to low trust in any organization. If the leader reinforces rather than punishes the employee for his or her candor and treats the individual with due respect, then trust will grow in that transaction.

In 50 years of studying leadership, the technique I just described is the most powerful tonic to change the culture of any organization. That is why I end up teaching the technique to every leader who will listen to me.

Bonus video

Here is a brief video about reinforcing candor.


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



Building Higher Trust 18 Enabling Actions

April 24, 2021

Last week, I wrote about the first part of my Building Higher Trust Model, which was Table Stakes. These elements are prerequisites to building trust. If they are missing, there is no way for a leader to build real trust.

This article is about “Enabling Actions.” These elements are not required to build trust at all, but the more you can practice them the more trust you will build.


Let’s take a look at some examples of enabling actions.

Advocate well

If leaders advocate well for the benefit of their people, then trust will generally be enhanced. There is a caveat, so this factor is not a “blank check.” While advocating for their people, leaders must realize that their lobbying must be consistent with the values, vision, and culture of the organization. If leaders advocate with a sinister motive, then trust can be destroyed.

Reinforce Right Behavior

Leaders who praise people sincerely when they do good work tend to build higher trust. The key word here is “sincerely” and not in a manipulative way.

Act in the Interest of Others

This element simply means do not be self-centered. The “Golden Rule” applies here. If you do unto others the way you would like to have done to you, then chances are trust is growing.

Follow Up

This concept is simply about doing what you said you would do. It is surprising how many leaders fail to do something they promised because conditions have changed, but they fail to explain to people why they are not following up. You must be 100% with doing what you said you would do to enhance trust. When you cannot do that, whatever the reason, you owe people an explanation for the change. Many leaders neglect this aspect to their detriment.

Admit Mistakes

We all make mistakes in life. If a leader humbly admits a mistake, it is usually a trust- building event, provided it was not a repeated mistake or one that is sinister. Many leaders try to hide their mistakes or make them sound trivial. It is better to ‘fess up, because it will reveal strength of character and humility.

Care About Your People

This behavior takes a number of forms. It is all about how you show you care. It is there in the words you use and especially in your body language. Do not embarrass people in front of their co-workers. Coach them in private, but praise them in public.

Explain Paradoxes

If something does not make sense, people deserve to know why. Be honest and open with your communication. Also be timely so that rumors do not spring up throughout the organization.

This brief article has been just a few of the myriad of things leaders can do to enhance the level of trust in an organization. It is a never-ending joy to do the right things by people because it creates the kind of culture you want to have and that fosters higher productivity.



Bonus video

Here is a brief video about Trust and Enabling Actions.


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



Building Higher Trust 17 Table stakes

April 16, 2021

Table StakesMy model for building Trust starts out with a group of leadership behaviors that I call “Table Stakes.” The name comes from the gambling industry. When you play poker in Las Vegas, you do not get dealt a hand unless you have the “ante” in the pot.

I believe the same kind of thing happens when leaders attempt to build trust. There is a set of behaviors that a leader must practice without fail or there is simply no chance to build trust. They are not even in the game. These behaviors I call “Table Stakes.”

Let’s look at some of the table stakes. Recognize this is only a partial list and that for different industries or different circumstances the table stakes may vary somewhat.

Be Open

A leader must believe in and practice behaviors of open communications. This does not mean absolute transparency, since there are situations where transparency is illegal, immoral, unkind, or just plain dumb. A general tendency to share what is possible to share and not withhold information is required to build trust.

Be Honest

People need to believe in what a leader says to earn their trust. This is why so few politicians garner high trust. Some politicians manufacture “facts” to suit their current purpose. We have become so used to our leaders lying to us, often in the face of ironclad proof, that the collective trust in these leaders is nonexistent.

Without integrity, a leader has no chance to create or maintain trust.

Be Ethical

If a leader does underhanded things to get out of tough spots, then trust will quickly be extinguished. Most people have a good nose to smell out unethical behavior. Once a leader is proven to have done something unethical, it is impossible to generate trust. The leader is locked out of the game for a very long time.

Honor Commitments

This is to simply not be duplicitous. Leaders who “talk the talk” but don’t “walk the walk” are simply shut out of the trust quest.

Communicate
Some leaders pretend to communicate but really fail to keep their people in the know. They may make a lot of noise or talk a lot, but real communication means getting messages into the hearts of people. Communication is not a head game; it is a gut game.

Be Consistent

Leaders who are unpredictable and inconsistent have little chance to build high trust. People believe these leaders are just playing games with them. They be amused or frightened at times, but real trust will be lacking.

These are just six examples of leader behavior that constitute the table stakes required to build trust. In the next article I will share the second category of behaviors which I call “Enabling Actions.”

Bonus video

Here is a brief video about Trust and Table Stakes


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



Building Higher Trust 11 Trust and the Need for Perfection

March 5, 2021

For leaders, there is a direct correlation between the level of trust and the need for them to be perfect. I discovered this phenomenon while doing the research for my third book, “Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.”

If Trust is low

If you are a leader of a low trust group, you need to be practically perfect, like Mary Poppins. The reason is that in an environment of low trust, people are poised like coiled snakes ready to pounce on any opportunity to misinterpret the intent of their leader.

Leaders need to spend continuous effort to spin every statement exactly right or suffer the consequences of the skeptical people who work them. These leaders find it difficult to relax and enjoy the ride because they are always on guard.

When Trust is high

When leaders can build up culture of high trust, things are a lot easier. People will cut these leaders some slack if something is not exactly right. The leaders might say something in a way that could be misinterpreted. They might make a wrong calculated risk. They might forget to deliver an implied reward.

In high trust groups, people are willing to give the leader the benefit of the doubt. They know that the right intent was there, even if something came out less than perfect. These leaders can relax and enjoy the wonderful ride of leading in a high trust environment.

Of course, leaders of high trust groups have that advantage because they have not done a lot of messing up in the past. There is low danger of making a lot of mistakes, and the art of leading is fun.

Bonus Video

Here is a brief video that explains the concept further.

Conclusion

Leading a low trust group is awfully hard work. It can be exhausting as you struggle to be perfect at all times. Leading a high trust group is a blast, because you can relax knowing the people who report to you are truly on your side.

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



Building Higher Trust 10 Trust and Customer Retention

February 25, 2021

It is especially important for employees who interface with customers to work in a culture of high trust. If the esprit de corps within your group is high, it will attract customers to return to your business.

If your employees are bickering among themselves and with their managers, it will have a chilling impact on your revenue because customers will turn elsewhere.

Spotting the Level of trust

It takes only a few seconds for most people to identify the level of friendship and bonding between employees. It is in the body language between people. They do not even need to say anything for the level of trust to be evident.

For example, when the supervisor walks by, two employees might roll their eyes ever so quickly to signal their displeasure. The gesture would not be noticed by the supervisor but might be evident to customers who are observing.

A snarl of the lips when one person is talking at another person is a sign of displeasure and low esteem. It casts a negative shadow on the business.

Avoid Phony Graciousness

People can also spot a phony display of cordiality, because there will be a tinge of sarcasm that shows through. The affection that people feel for each other needs to be genuine or the effect will be negative.

Generate a true Culture of Trust

Work to create a real environment where people support each other and display a fondness for working together. If people are playing games with each other to try to impress customers, it will be evident, and your company will suffer for it.

Bonus Video

Here is a brief video about Trust and Customer Retention

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



Building Higher Trust 9 Trust and Communication

February 13, 2021

Communication is one of the most foundational skills in any organization. Leaders spend a lot of time communicating with people in their organization, yet when workers are asked what the most significant blockage is to motivation, most groups report that communication is the biggest problem.

In this brief article I will explore the relationship between how well communication works in a high trust environment versus a low trust environment.

When Trust is Low

Even in a world where everyone is physically in one place, communication becomes chancy if there is low trust. People tend to hear what they believe the leader is trying to say rather than what was actually said. It is so easy to get the wrong flavor of a message, and the real damage is done because the leader often does not know that his or her message was misinterpreted.

When Trust is High

When Trust is high, people have an easy time hearing the real message and interpreting it accurately. In these cases, the leader can tell by the body language whether the workers have absorbed the true meaning. This is true both in person and virtually.
With high trust, people will not feel intimidated if they are unclear about the real message. They will feel free to ask a question for clarification because there is psychological safety, and they know a legitimate question will not lead to them feeling punished.

Working Remotely

The issue of accurate and believable communication is amplified significantly when we have a hybrid workforce where some people are working in the office but others are working remotely, sometimes even in another country, where time zone and cultural issues can exacerbate the problem. It is so easy to have the remote workers feel at least inconvenienced or at worst left completely out of the tight communication loop.

That is why it is imperative that all leaders redouble their efforts to communicate as much or more with the remote people as they do with the people close at hand. Try to beat down the “us versus them” issues that result in silo thinking.

Conclusion

When trust is low, communication is going to be chancy and difficult to control. This is true for all types of communication, including electronic communication. When trust is high, there is a much better chance for robust and acceptable communication. Trust becomes a significant enabler of effective and timely communication.


Bonus Video

Here is a brief video on Trust and Communication.

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


Building Higher Trust 8 Trust and Focus

February 3, 2021

It is quite easy to determine the level of trust within a group simply by observing what the people in the group focus on most of the time.

High Trust Groups

I have observed that very high trust groups spend the majority of their time and energy on what they are trying to accomplish. Maybe it is because high trust groups have an exciting vision they are pursuing.

Let’s say the group is coming out with a new product. If you listen to the conversations members of the group are having, they are going to be centered on the new product. That is what they are trying to accomplish.

If they are trying to accomplish better customer service, then that dynamic will dominate the conversations.

Whatever the vision is will be the main topic of discussion, and people will do very little griping because they have good feelings about the other people in their group. Those good feelings and affection tend to raise the level of trust even higher.

Low Trust Groups

By contrast, people who work in low trust groups seem to focus their energy on each other. They are myopic and talk about the problems they are having getting along.

You might hear one person complain that another person spends too much time on the phone or is frequently late to Zoom meetings. You may hear people that are stationed in different countries complain that the time zone differences make life very difficult for their families.

The focus becomes “how can I protect my own interests from these other people who have their own agendas.” The conversations become mostly negative and often are hurtful.

That dynamic tends to perpetuate the lower trust atmosphere, so it becomes a vicious cycle of negativity.

Conclusion

Listen to the conversations that are happening in your organization and see whether they demonstrate low or high trust. It will be an accurate indication of the current level of trust inside your organization.

Bonus Video

Here is a brief video on Trust and Focus.


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



Building Higher Trust 7 Trust and Solving Problems

January 25, 2021

All teams need to solve problems from time to time. How easily these problems are solved and the quality of solutions has a lot to do with the level of trust on the team. In this article I will describe why the level of trust has such a major impact on solving problems.

The speed to get to a solution

High trust groups are able to focus on the specific problem at hand. They define what the real issue is with precision and do it quickly. Once the nature of the problem is crystal clear to everyone, then a solution is just around the corner.

By contrast, low trust groups are working around interpersonal issues between team members, so it is difficult for them to even agree on the nature of the problem. The group can become splintered and end up arguing for hours on what the issue really is.

As the acrimony becomes more apparent, the group can actually move further away from the original problem and end up with two problems to resolve. All of this dither uses up a lot of time, and tempers become even more frayed.

The Quality of solutions

The quality of the solution is also highly impacted by the level of trust within the group. With a high trust group, people are not afraid to voice their ideas knowing they will not be ridiculed if they propose a rather creative solution.

In low trust groups, members are holding back for a number of reasons. They may be fearful that their ideas will not be considered seriously. They may keep quiet thinking that the power person should come up with potential solutions. They may have been shot down in the past. There may be a personal gripe with one or more other members of the group.

A low trust group will have a much more difficult time finding excellent solutions to problems than a high trust group.

Bonus Video

Here is a brief video on Trust and Solving Problems.



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



Building Higher Trust 6 The Transactional Nature of Trust

January 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Five C’s of Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus Video

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


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


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

January 6, 2021

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

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

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

First Impressions

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

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

Observe the Body Language

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

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

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

Eye Contact

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

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

Bonus Video

Here is  a brief video on Planting a Seed of Trust



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

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