habit [hab-it], noun — an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary
Habits…we all have them, don’t we? Some are good for us and help us live healthier and happier lives. Others aren’t so good and they cause us pain, guilt, and turmoil. Hopefully the good outweigh the bad.
As the definition above illustrates, habits are something that can be learned, and that’s important when it comes to being a trustworthy leader. Most people assume trust “just happens,” but that’s false. Trust is built through the use of very specific behaviors that anyone can learn and master over time. Trustworthiness can, and should, become a habit.
First we make our habits, and then our habits make us.
Choosing to deliver—People trust you when you have a track record of success. That means you follow through on your commitments and deliver results. Be sure you only make commitments you can keep and be careful of using the “P” word—promise. If you promise to do something, make sure you do it. Breaking a promise is one of the quickest ways to erode people’s trust.
Choosing to coach—The number one priority of a sports coach is to help players maximize their abilities and achieve success. When leaders develop the habit of acting like a coach they put the needs of their people ahead of their own. Your job as a leader is plain and simple—help your people succeed.
Choosing to be consistent—Predictable and consistent behavior is essential for being a trustworthy leader. Your people trust you when they can rely on you to act, and react, in a consistent manner. Wild swings of behavior lead people to be on edge and behaving inconsistently will cause your people to hold back on giving you their all because they aren’t sure how you’ll react when they encounter difficulties.
The Habits of Integrity
Choosing the be honest—Honesty is the foundation of integrity. It means you tell the truth, admit mistakes, and make ethical decisions. If people can’t trust your word they find it hard to trust anything else about you.
Choosing to be open—Trustworthy leaders share information in an open and transparent fashion. They keep their team members informed so they can make responsible decisions because without information people are shooting in the dark.
Choosing to be humble—Trustworthy leaders are humble leaders. Humbleness doesn’t mean meekness; humbleness is strength under control. Leading with humility means you consider the needs of your people more important than your own.
The Habits of Benevolence
Choosing to evangelize—Blakey advocates that leaders need to be evangelists who spread the good news of all the great things happening in their organizations. Bad news travels like wildfire and trustworthy leaders keep their people focused on the vision and goals of the organization.
Choosing to be brave—Leadership is not for the faint of heart. Leaders have to make tough decisions, often in uncertain conditions with sparse information. Trustworthy leaders demonstrate bravery by making decisions in alignment with their values and those of the organization.
Choosing to be kind—Kindness should not be underestimated when it comes to building trust. Extending common courtesies, praising and recognizing team members, and building personal rapport are all ways leaders demonstrate kindness.
Leaders don’t become trustworthy by accident. They learn the behaviors of trust and practice them over a period of time to the point where they become habits. Developing these nine habits will help you become the kind of leader your people not only desire but deserve.
It’s my pleasure to host the June 2016 edition of the Leadership Development Carnival. This month’s collection of articles is a treasure trove of wisdom from many of the world’s premier leadership, management, and coaching thought leaders and practitioners. Enjoy!
Do Your Motivations Undermine Your Ability to Lead? by MarySchaefer— Certain leaders are disconnected from the motivations of the human beings who happen to be employees. Successful leaders are aware that when you make decisions that affect their lives, employees need to know you understand what keeps them engaged, or you risk compromising their trust.
The Power of Almost Perfect Practice by Jennifer V. Miller — Jennifer’s preteen daughter is learning to play the trumpet and that’s providing opportunity for how to encourage someone who’s learning a new skill. Read Jennifer’s thoughts on how to catch someone doing something (almost) right.
May The Force Be With You: An InPower Guide to Real Superpowersby Dana Theus — The reason media superheroes are so popular is because we all yearn to unlock our secret inner talents, the ones we instinctively know we have by virtue of being human. For most of us, navigating the trials and tribulations of a day at the office, a light saber seems like overkill. But the ability to steer someone’s thinking or read their true intent? Now that would come in handy!
Bubbily Boo’ by Bill Treasurer — While on an epic vacation to Spain a few summers ago, Bill learned a valuable leadership lesson from his kids.It was the first time he realized that Dad Dad and Business Dad were two different people.
Tactical To-Dos for First-Time Leaders by Jon Mertz — Given the opportunity, how would you help someone prepare for their first leadership position? Jon Mertz shares five slices of advice to provide a solid foundation for anyone walking into a new leadership role.
Why You Need to Learn to Coach People by Mary Jo Asmus — There are lots of things that are called coaching, but aren’t. Real coaching uses a special type of two-way conversation that can help leaders to help others. This article describes what coaching isn’t and why it’s important for leaders to (really) coach others.
Give ‘Em Some Space (for Possibilities) by Julie Winkle Giuloni — There’s one thing that best-in-class coaches do that frequently goes unnoticed to the casual observer. It’s invisible but perhaps the most invaluable contribution a coach can make: Exceptional coaches hold the space for possibilities.
The Problem With Motivating People by David M. Dye — A recent audience member asked David: When it comes to motivating people, are the carrot and stick dead? David suggests that they’re not dead, but they rarely get you what you want.
Deliver on the Promise of Servant Leadership by Chris Edmonds — Two friends – in completely different industries – were excited to join a vibrant boss & company. Within months the bubble burst – their great boss left due to values conflicts and worse. How can we help leaders serve others – not themselves? This post explains how.
Leading Employees Who Struggle with Self Doubt by Art Petty — The biggest barrier to remarkable achievements in our workplaces is not a lack of resources or a shortage of great ideas. Rather, it is a distinct shortage of a very personal attribute: self-confidence. This article offers six ideas to help you strengthen your support of these individuals on your team.
Talent Management Strategy Lessons Learned from T-Ball by Mary Ila Ward — If you have ever had a son or daughter play t-ball there is only one word that can describe it…chaos. In this guest post from Dave, Mary’s husband, he shares that a couple of weeks into the season he realized he would be utilizing many of the management skills he uses at work.
Managers and Musicians: Leading by Being Present by Marcella Bremer — Marcella says, “I attended a music workshop that helps leaders discover the ‘note you cannot hear’. What stood out for me is that action speaks louder than words, or better phrased: presence speaks louder than words.” Check out Marcella’s article to learn more.
Turn Relentless Focus into Attentiveness by Jill Malleck — As leaders take on more responsibility they sometimes become adept at compartmentalizing to avoid distraction. This relentless focus may be seen by others as rigidity or disinterest. Here’s how to ensure an ability to focus remains a strength.
Developing Your Own Management Career Plan by Lexie Martin — Lexie says, “Proactively motivating and managing yourself, including your career development, is part of your responsibility as a manager.” This easy-to-follow guide provides simple steps to help you take control of your development, from identifying where you what to head as a leader to planning the actions you need to take to get there.
Trust and credibility are cornerstones of successful leadership. You can be the smartest, most technically capable person in your field, but if you don’t have credibility with your team and earn their trust, you’ll never reach your leadership potential.
In his newest book, Follow Your Conscience, Frank Sonnenberg shares great wisdom and practical advice on how to lead and live with character and values. I’ve been connected with Frank via social media for a few years now and we collaborate together in The Alliance of Trustworthy Business Experts. Frank’s work is a beacon of light in a dark world that doesn’t place much value on the moral component of leadership.
Frank’s book includes a section on how to build trust and credibility. He lists 55 excellent strategies and I’ve highlighted 13 of my favorites:
Your reputation is their first impression.
Show people you care about their needs.
A promise should be as binding as a contract.
Follow through on every commitment you make.
Be straight with people. Tell it like it is.
Always tell the truth or the truth will tell on you.
Surround yourself with people who have a high degree of integrity.
Your actions “off-stage” (e.g., at an office party or on Facebook) impact your trust and credibility.
Your actions must match your words.
Admit when you’re wrong.
Words spoken in confidence are words spoken in trust.
Learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.
It’s not only what you bring to the table but how you serve it.
As Frank says, moral character is the DNA of success and happiness. If you’re looking for ways to develop your character, build trust, have better relationships, and chart a path for personal success, Follow Your Conscience is an excellent starting point.
Leadership is a demanding activity that can test your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical constitution. But that’s not the kind of constitution to which I’m referring.
I’m talking about a document like the Magna Carta or the U.S. Constitution. A living, breathing document that clearly outlines the agreements and principles of how something should operate. In this case, your leadership, and in the case of your organization, its culture.
Developing a personal leadership philosophy and an organizational constitution is the driving goal of The Culture Engine – A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace by my friend and colleague, Chris Edmonds. I’ve known and worked with Chris for over 18 years and recommend you take the time to read his book. Chris emphasizes the importance of developing an organizational constitution that outlines the specific expectations and rights of organizational members. An organizational constitution specifies the team or company’s purpose and the values and behaviors that all team leaders and members believe in and commit to. It functions as the organization’s North Star, the guiding light of what is and isn’t acceptable in the organization and how team members will work together to achieve the organization’s goals.
Before you have an organizational culture, it helps to have a clear picture of your own leadership philosophy. Chris outlines several helpful steps leaders can take to develop a deeper understanding of their leadership points of view.
1. Clarify your personal purpose – A few weeks ago I wrote about how to craft your own mission/purpose statement. Chris makes an important point about developing a personal mission/purpose statement: look at your life purpose and values, not just a set for the workplace. Our core purpose and values don’t change based on the role we choose. Chris offers a guided process to help you develop a life purpose statement by answering questions such as “What are your core talents?,”“Whom are you focused on serving?,” and “What are you striving for?” Your personal purpose statement will serve as the foundation for how you express your leadership.
2. Clarify your personal values and aligned behaviors – When you are leading at your best, what values characterize your behavior? Identifying your personal values is good; defining the behaviors that align with those values is even better. For example, if “integrity” is one of your personal values, define what that means in behavioral terms. It might mean you do what you say, keep your commitments, and do the right thing even when it’s difficult. Chris recommends you limit your core values to just three to five in order to create clarity and focus on how you want to act as a leader.
3. Define your values – Specifically defining your values eliminates any question as to what your values mean. In the absence of clear values, you open the door to rationalizing your behavior and create confusion among those you lead as to exactly what you stand for as a leader. Values can mean different things to different people so it’s important to be very clear with your followers about what your values mean.
Once you have created and defined your own personal leadership philosophy or constitution, you are primed to create your team/department/organizational constitution. Chris details a specific process on how to create your organization’s constitution and his book is replete with worksheets to help you through the process.
Perhaps Chris’ most important point is you have to live the constitution. Leaders are the living embodiment of the principles contained within the constitution, and if you don’t live them out, you can’t expect anyone else to do so.
Culture is the engine that drives your organization’s performance and developing an organizational constitution, and operating by its principles, will keep your engine in tip-top shape — and your organization performing at its peak.
We are living in a world gone social. Social media has fundamentally changed the way consumers purchase products and services, the marketing and customer service strategies companies employ, and the way leaders engage with their people. If you think social media is just a fad or trend for “those young folks,” then you need to catch up. It’s not a trend or fad; it’s today’s reality.
I recently read A World Gone Social – How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, written by Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt. I connected with Ted on Twitter a few years ago. In the time since, we have connected “in real life” and have mutually supported each other’s social media efforts. If there is anyone you should listen to when it comes to social media, it’s Ted. In reading his book, I came away with three implications that leaders must address in order to lead in the social age.
1. Trust trumps all – Trust is the bedrock of any successful relationship, and when it comes to leading in a social world, it’s doubly important. Whether you are leading employees who work remotely, or representing your organization through social media, your integrity is paramount in the social world. Representing yourself in a certain way, only to behave in a way inconsistent with your stated values, will erode trust in your leadership faster than anything else. Leading in a social world is no different from leading in any other context. You need to be trustworthy, honest, ethical, and committed to doing the right thing. The big difference of leading in a social world is that if you aren’t trustworthy, everyone will know it – instantaneously.
2. Freely share your expertise – Social leaders share their expertise freely without expecting anything in return. You get what you give in the social world. If you’re generous and gracious, people will be generous and gracious in return. If you feel compelled to constantly toot your own horn at the expense of others, you’ll find yourself alone and without support. Ted and his Switch & Shift partner Shawn Murphy, have been extremely generous in supporting my social media efforts. They’ve done it without expecting anything in return, but because of their generosity, they have cultivated a tribe of individuals willing to give back and support them. Leaders who give are those who get the most support from their team.
3. Leverage the expertise of your network – Social media has allowed us to connect one-on-one with experts in virtually any field anywhere in the world. Leaders no longer hold all the information and answers in today’s workplace. Your employees can acquire the information they need nearly instantaneously through their social media networks. This changes the leader’s job from one of being a director to that of facilitator. Collaboration is the key to working effectively in the 21st century and there is tremendous power and knowledge in your network.
Social media has opened new doors for leaders to empower their people through sharing information openly and tapping into the vast expertise of their network of relationships. Above all, trust is an absolute essential ingredient for leading successfully in the social world, and that’s a trend that will never go out of style.
Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, but oddly enough, most of us don’t think about it until it’s been broken. By that time, it may be too late to gain it back. Trust doesn’t “just happen” through some sort of magical relationship osmosis. It’s built and sustained through the use of very specific behaviors. Whether you’re a leader, coach, teacher, parent, or friend, the skill of building trust is critical to the success of your relationships.
In his newest book, Trust Works! Four Keys to Building Lasting Relationships, Ken Blanchard and his co-authors Cynthia Olmstead and Martha Lawrence, share the four elements of trust that are critical to any healthy and lasting relationship. The four elements of trust are illustrated by the ABCD Trust Model™. You build trust when you are:
Able – Demonstrate Competence. People show they are able when they have the expertise needed for their job, role, or position. They consistently achieve results and are effective problem solvers and decision makers. Demonstrating competence inspires others to have confidence and trust in you.
Believable – Act with Integrity. Trustworthy people are honest with others. They behave in a manner consistent with their stated values, treat people fairly, and behave ethically. “Walking the talk” is essential in building trust in relationships.
Connected – Care About Others. Being connected means focusing on people, having good communication skills, and recognizing the contributions of others. Caring about others builds trust because people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Dependable – Maintain Reliability. Dependable people follow through on their commitments. They respond timely to requests and hold themselves and others accountable. Not doing what you say you will do quickly erodes trust with others.
Ken Blanchard tells you all about the book in the following video.
Have you discovered what you were born to do? Do you believe that you have a unique destiny that you were put on Earth to fulfill? In his latest book, One Big Thing – Discovering What You Were Born to Do, Phil Cooke offers numerous insights and encouragements on how you can stop being average at so many things in your life and start becoming extraordinary at one big thing.
Cooke suggests that discovering your one big thing comes at the intersection of two questions: (1) What am I supposed to do with my life?, and (2) In a hyper-competitive, cluttered, and distracted world, how do I get noticed?
To help you discover what you’re supposed to do with your life, Cooke encourages you to engage in an honest self-evaluation by answering these four questions:
What comes easy for you? We often discount our natural strengths when looking for our one big thing, when many times our greatest skills and passions are right under our own nose.
What do you love? You’re probably familiar with the old saying, “Find a job you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Cooke subscribes to the same line of thinking and encourages you to determine what you’re passionate about doing and then find a way to get someone to pay you to do it.
What drives you crazy? This could be something that’s broken that you want to fix, something that’s working that you want to improve, or it could be something that breaks your heart and compels you to action. Sometimes the things that make us the most crazy is also what ignites our passions.
What do you want to leave behind? All of us will leave a legacy. The question is, what kind of legacy will you leave? How do you want to be remembered? Answering this question can help you determine the answer of how you want to live your life.
Once discovering your life’s purpose, Cooke believes you have to distinguish yourself from the crowd in order to get noticed. Not surprisingly, given his expertise in media production and branding, Cooke advocates that living your one big thing is your personal brand. He makes a solid case for having an authentic personal brand when he says, “Too many people think that developing or influencing their own brand is about becoming something they aren’t, when it’s really about discovering what they truly are.” Keeping in line with his belief in the value of self-awareness, Cooke writes, “Ultimately, a significant part of being different is being honest about who you are and how you’re perceived.”
I don’t think Cooke breaks any significant new ground in the One Big Thing, but I think he offers wise counsel and helpful guidance for seekers on the journey of discovering their life’s purpose, particularly the four questions listed above. My biggest take-away from the book was the affirmation that for the vast majority of us, discovering our one big thing is a life-long journey that usually finds its fulfillment in living our lives in authentic harmony with our most important and treasured values.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”