How to Avoid the Dangers of Groupthink

Pitfalls of groupthink at work

Collaboration and creative brainstorming sessions occur frequently in most companies. There’s a prevailing idea that, when the most creative minds come together, the meeting will result in the ideal solution for a problem or most innovative product design. While this may be true in some cases, there’s also a risk that the team, department, or committee will fall victim to groupthink, in which the group values unity above critical evaluation. While peace among team members is valuable, it should not interfere with your team creativity, ethics, or business profits.

Here are some problems you could encounter because of groupthink:

  • Lower quality of a solution, idea, or design

    Sometimes, harmony and maintaining the status quo come at the price of the optimal outcome. Even when good ideas are discussed, employees do not articulate potential flaws out of concern for upsetting the group. They may not feel comfortable opposing or criticizing one of their superiors or a more outspoken coworker. This becomes a missed opportunity to address and prevent errors, which could lead to loss of profits and customers down the line.

  • Fewer innovative products

    If and when a company creates a culture that requires employees to toe the line and always be a team player, they may not feel safe suggesting innovative or unique ideas. Over time, products and services suffer because they fall in line with mainstream expectations, rather than offering cutting-edge solutions. Companies such as Apple or Google actively encourage their employees to come forward with unique ideas which is part of the reason that they are constantly reinventing themselves and making innovative leaps in both products and internal operations.

  • Suppressed, resentful employees

    When employees feel that their ideas are silenced, that can lead to complacency, frustration, or even resentment. It’s crucial to let your team know that their new ideas and insights are valued. Otherwise, they will begin to feel undervalued and unappreciated—sentiments that can lead to a toxic work environment or problems with employee retention. Not to mention, your frustrated employees may take their creative ideas to a new company where they feel they are heard.

  • Extinction

    Groupthink may seem like a minor issue at first, but if it becomes the norm, it can cause a company to stagnate and fall behind its competitors. Profits suffer, customers become dissatisfied, and the company’s reputation for prioritizing creativity and innovation deteriorates. Entire product lines may fail or the company, as a whole, could go under. When creative solutions are not presented, companies cannot adapt to the changing market or their customers’ needs.

You’ve discovered you have a groupthink situation on your hands. What do you do?

 

  • Note and vote:

    At the beginning of your meeting, have participants brainstorm individually, writing down their ideas without sharing them. Then have them pick their best two or three ideas, write them on a slip of paper, and pass them forward to share with the larger group. After you collect everyone’s top ideas, mix to maximize anonymity, read each idea aloud and record them on a board. Ask participants to vote on the ideas, using either circle dots posted next to ideas or private votes. When top ideas or solutions are selected, discuss drawbacks or roadblocks and how to overcome them. When nobody “owns” or “champions” the idea initially, it’s easier for the group to engage in open, honest discussion.

  • Select a designated naysayer:

    For each meeting, pick one person to pinpoint shortcomings of proposed ideas, making this an accepted part of meeting culture. Everyone gets a turn and comments are made in a respectful tone and focus on a successful final outcome.

  • Bring in outside help:

    Ask people from other departments or hire a consultant to help you out. Others might see strengths or flaws, or ask important questions, that your existing team members may miss. Fresh eyes offer new insights.

 

 

Many subtle roadblocks occur when groupthink happens to a team, but the problem that connects them all is this: when employees are beholden to groupthink, the best ideas are never made known and mediocre ideas are not improved upon or dismissed for the best organizational success.

What Can Servant Leadership Do for YOUR Company?

Is your company struggling with employee engagement, customer satisfaction, or turning a profit? Have you tried several different methods to overcome your difficulties—implementing new programs, rebranding, expanding your staff—with limited or no success? Are your competitors steadily inching ahead of you?

It’s possible that your company would benefit from a shift in its focus. Instead of concentrating on profits, sales numbers, or “motivating” your employees with bonuses, consider using the servant leadership approach.

Servant leadership is a philosophy created by Robert Greenleaf which has been successfully applied to companies such as The Home Depot, Southwest Airlines, FedEx, and Herman Miller. This leadership style is people-centric and focuses on the happiness and wellbeing of both customers and employees. Instead of leading for one’s own personal gain, servant leaders place the good of the whole above their own personal glory.

Greenleaf’s “best test” for effectiveness of servant leadership is, “Do those served grow as persons: do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or at least, not be further deprived?”

You might be thinking, “The idea is nice, but what does the practical application look like? What can servant leadership really do for my business?”

In day-to-day practice, servant leadership involves communicating openly and honestly with customers and employees, listening to feedback, taking actions that positively affect others, and genuinely caring about the wellbeing and satisfaction of both staff and customers. A servant leader sticks up for their team and defends their ideas. They also appreciate the diversity of thought that their team brings and carefully consider all perspectives before making a decision.

That’s not to say that a servant leader is a softie who can be easily manipulated by others. A servant leader is still a leader. There is still a balance of power. Kevin Monroe, a director at Greenleaf Consulting, describes a servant leader as someone who serves others’ legitimate needs, not a genie who grants wishes.

Although it may be tough at first to shift your leadership mentality to revolve around serving others, the benefits of such a shift can be tremendous. Three areas that can benefit from servant leadership are:

1. Employees

When employees feel like they matter, amazing transformations can take place. People become less afraid to voice their concerns or present new ideas; creativity flourishes; innovative problem-solving begins to emerge.

When employees feel like valuable pieces of the company puzzle, they begin to feel a greater sense of loyalty for their company, co-workers, and bosses. Employee retention improves and productivity increases.

Servant leadership also fosters an inclusive environment where diversity is acknowledged and appreciated.

2. Customers

In a company driven by servant leadership, customers are directly benefitted. Leadership stops focusing on the question, “How can we profit?” Instead, they begin to ask, “How can we best serve our customers?”

This important shift means that customer needs become the heart of the company’s motives. Customer concerns are addressed and systems are implemented to make the customer experience positive and enjoyable.

When customers feel genuinely appreciated, they are more likely to become repeat customers. They develop loyalty toward the company and recommend its services to friends and family. Companies such as Southwest Airlines has incorporated servant leadership at all levels of their organization so that their passengers feel not only respected, but “celebrated.” This kind of treatment has led to an average of 43,000 commendations every year.

3. Company Image

When a company is respected by both employees and customers, its brand becomes associated with high-quality and value. It grows a following of loyal customers and builds a sterling reputation. Even though profits are not the central focus of a servant leadership-driven company, studies have found that such companies are often profitable anyway.

Jason’s Deli, for example, shifted its focus to servant leadership and found that not only were customer satisfaction and employee retention positively impacted (8% and 50% increase, respectively), but profitability went up as well. Sandy Wayne studied the impact on servant leadership for the deli and noted that “servant leadership isn’t just a nice thing to do; it can actually impact the profitability of an organization.”

 

When leaders take the focus away from themselves and place it on employees, customers, and the good of the company, they can make a tremendously positive impact. How might servant leadership transform YOUR organization?

If you’d like to discuss servant leadership strategies, please feel free to contact me.

Is Accountability a Centerpiece of Your Leadership?

“It is not only what we do, but what we do not do, for which we are accountable.” –Moliere

 

If your workplace is free of accountability, it is likely filled with blame and distrust. When a project fails or a client leaves, it is natural for people to want answers, which may lead to suspicion and finger-pointing. An accountability-free workplace can easily turn ugly.

As David Gebler, author of The 3 Power Values, says, “Accountability is the number one success factor in any change effort.” If leadership does not hold their team accountable, it is difficult for integrity to be taken seriously. In a workplace where “anything goes” and inaction or missteps are ignored, there is little motivation to do good work. In such a haphazard culture, employees can miss deadlines, show up late, refuse to hold up their end of a project, or mishandle clients…all without consequence.

Unfortunately, many workplaces lack a clear system of accountability. Margery Weinstein of Training Mag cites a Workplace Accountability Study which reveals that “82 percent of respondents admit they have limited-to-no ability to hold others accountable successfully.” This number is especially startling because 91 percent of respondents said that accountability is one of the “top leadership development needs in their organization.”

This lack of accountability may cause interpersonal conflicts, distrust, or the constant need to make excuses. It also allows the dominant personalities in your workplace to direct the company’s ethics. The behavior of influential individuals can easily sway the entire tone of the workplace (which may or may not be a good thing!).

What to do? As a leader, it is tempting to react to a lack of accountability by hovering over your team and micro-managing their every move. There are many reasons why this is a flawed approach (some of which I address in a past blog post), but suffice it to say that your work team will not react well to micro-managing. However, a culture of accountability can be created without setting your team member’s schedules or closely monitoring their work projects. It’s all about striking a balance.

Here are five tips for creating a system of accountability in your workplace:

Clearly Communicate Expectations

Set your team up for success by clearly communicating goals, deadlines, and expected outcomes. Your team members should also understand the consequences of failing to meet a particular aspect of a project or action.

Articulate Your Team’s Value

“When employees aren’t valued, they’re less likely to be engaged with their work,” (Sean Pomeroy, Talent Culture.com). Make sure each member of your team is aware of their worth and the value they bring to the team. Communicate often and openly to your employees to let them know you appreciate their contributions.

Follow Through

Don’t deliver empty warnings. If you’ve made it clear that those who do not meet a specific project deadline will be removed from the project, then follow through with that disciplinary action. You may choose to use a three-strike system to soften the blow for those who have erred for the first or second time. However, be sure to talk to the offender, even if it’s her first time making a mistake, so she knows what your expectations are for the future.

Hold Yourself to the Same Standards

Lead by example. If you make a mistake, own up to it and articulate how you will correct the error and take preventative action so that the same mistake will not occur in the future. If you are exempt from being held accountable, how can you effectively enforce accountability?

Treat Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

Instead of sweeping mistakes under the rug, making excuses, or becoming overly distraught, try to look at workplace errors as an opportunity. Talk openly about the mistake with your team and strategize ways to overcome it and create a better system for the future.

 

Company leadership has the power to create a culture of accountability. When all members of a workplace community assume personal responsibility for their actions and inactions, the company can focus on solutions and strategy, rather than blame and distrust.

 

Contact Juli for insight and guidance for YOUR company.

The Subtle Art of Managing Up

the subtle art of managing up

If you’re looking to grow as a leader, expand your responsibilities, or create a better framework for your job, you may want to try managing up. Especially if you’re working for a boss who doesn’t invest much time in leadership, it’s a good idea to take the initiative to build leadership responsibilities into your current role.

What, exactly is managing up?

The Harvard Business Review defines it as, “being the most effective employee you can be, creating value for your boss and your company.” But it goes beyond that. Rosanne Badowski, co-author of Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship With Those Above You, says that when someone tells you to manage up, they are encouraging you to stretch yourself and go “above and beyond the tasks assigned to you so that you can enhance your manager’s work.”

When done in the right spirit, managing up aims to benefit you, your boss, and your company. It’s not about manipulation; it’s about filling a gap in your company’s framework and providing valuable services.

How do you start managing up?

First of all, start thinking in big-picture terms. Reflect on the company’s needs and how you can help fill them. This kind of thinking is akin to “CEO thinking.” As author John Baldini says, “You’re looking at the holistic point of view for what your department does and how it relates to the rest of your firm.” Pay attention and start to understand the processes and people that make your company successful and what obstacles are blocking potential success.

But careful not to step on any toes! Managing up does not mean taking over your boss’ responsibilities. Nor does it mean telling your supervisor what to do. It means educating, rather than intimidating. Strive to create an open dialogue with your boss and share your ideas.

Get to know who your manager is and what’s important to him. What successes led to his current role? What is his vision moving forward? What does he struggle with, that you may be able to help fulfill?

Part of managing up involves building trust between yourself and your superiors. This goes beyond simply turning in assignments on time or reaching sales goals. It means anticipating your manager’s needs and acting accordingly. It also means tracking your time, projects, and progress.

When you measure your efforts, it’s easier to report them to your boss or your work team during a meeting. It also demonstrates your willingness to carve out your own work experience by setting and achieving goals.

Remember: managing up isn’t always about leadership. Part of your responsibility as a valuable employee is to be an excellent follower when the situation arises. Carefully follow directions and ask clarifying questions, if need-be. Make sure you fully understand a project’s goal and the timeline. If you happen to disagree, for whatever reason, with your manager’s decision, make sure to voice your concerns tactfully. Ask questions to understand her reasoning before expressing disagreement.

Take initiative and aim to add value to your current position. Demonstrate your leadership and self-starting tendencies by effectively managing up. Remember to keep your heart in the right place and strive to enhance the workplace and support your boss, rather than manipulate.

 

Need help with your managing up strategy? Feel free to contact me and let’s figure out how to take your leadership to the next level.

Three Steps for Mediating a Clashing Team

mediating teams in conflict

As a conflict mediator, I’ve helped others work through a wide variety of interpersonal struggles, both personal and professional. But what if your entire team is having issues? How do you deal with building understanding between many people, as opposed to just two? Help your team resolve (or embrace!) their differences with these 3 steps:

1. Get to the root of the problem

Teams clash for a variety of reasons. Conflict can be caused by personality differences, ethical disagreements, unclear expectations, or even simple miscommunications. According to research discussed in Psych Press,[1] conflicts arise in teams in three different key areas:

  • Relationship conflict (personality differences or differences in values)
  • Task conflict (content and outcomes of the task being performed)
  • Process conflict (logistics of completing the task)

To unearth the cause of conflict, it’s important to talk to each team member to get a full picture of what is going on, according to each person’s unique perspective. Allow yourself sufficient time to meet with individuals one-on-one and ask open-ended questions. This process alone may reveal simple misunderstandings or more problematic fundamental issues. However, if the root of the problem is unclear, you may want to bring in a professional conflict mediator or turn to a team-building assessment test, such as Insights® Discovery (which I’ve discussed in past blog posts).

2. Start a dialogue

Once you’ve identified the key factors that are contributing to your team’s issues, open a safe space for dialogue. An assessment tool, like Insights®, can help get a conversation going, especially if you’re dealing with personality clashes.

It can be useful to have a sit-down meeting involving the entire team, in which the framework of the team is discussed, rather than the project at hand. Use this meeting (and any subsequent meetings) to talk about dividing up group responsibilities, sharing the workload, and working out an approach that is collaborative and respectful of all opinions.

If you uncovered work misalignments during your meetings (for instance, a creative-minded person has been saddled with data-crunching), address those misalignments and brainstorm how to fix them.

If you discovered a miscommunication between two parties, bring that up and talk about where you think the communication went wrong.

Don’t forget to listen. Aim for collaboration when solving your team’s conflict and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

And if disagreements still exist? Do your best to negotiate with both sides and find some middle ground. Let your team know that healthy conflict is just fine and conflict is just a sign that something needs to change. If everyone agreed all the time or, if everyone had the same personality, there would be little room for innovation or creative problem-solving.

3. Teamwork maintenance

After you’ve opened up a dialogue and worked through differences, be sure to maintain that open line of communication. Check in with teammates from time to time and ask how the project is going. As a CBS News article[2] aptly put it: “It is important to maintain the momentum by agreeing to continue to talk about the issue as much as appropriate, and use the language of your discussion and other agreed [upon] signals to keep things on track.” Be sure to welcome conversation and let your team know that they can approach you with any issues, no matter how small.

Another way to maintain team harmony is to focus on the project goals and create opportunities for your team to get together to strategize how to work toward those goals. When everyone has a common purpose, minor differences tend to diminish in importance.

Don’t forget to honor team differences in approach and capabilities. When your team is feeling pulled between two (or more) different directions, point out how each way is valid before striving to reach a compromise.

 

Is your team clashing? Contact me today to develop a strategy for pulling yourselves out of conflict.

[1] Psych Press (2014). 5 steps to handling clashing team members. http://www.psychpress.com.au/newsletter/files/NWS-JUN2014/Jun2014_5-Steps-to-Handling-Clashing-Team-Members.pdf.* Accessed 9/12/16. *Updated Link: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:lWKoIynBeDAJ:www.psychpress.com.au/newsletter/files/NWS-JUN2014/Jun2014_5-Steps-to-Handling-Clashing-Team-Members.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

[2] CBS Money Watch (2007). Working around personality clashes. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/working-around-personality-clashes/. Accessed 9/12/16.

Stop the Micromanaging Madness

Micromanage

Have you ever worked with a manager whose main approach to leadership was “my way or the highway?” Every decision you made, every project you worked on was carefully scrutinized. And there was the constant feeling of someone looking over your shoulder, waiting for you to make a mistake.

I know I’ve experienced leadership like that! When I was leading a fundraising team for a major organization, one of my managers constantly held me under his thumb, sometimes forcing me to make decisions regarding my team that I didn’t want to make. He didn’t trust me—or anyone, for that matter—to take action without his input. This atmosphere of distrust and restriction made it difficult to go to work every day. How can anyone do their job when they are immersed in such a toxic and demeaning environment?

I realize, of course, that not every micro-manager is a power-hungry bully that likes to exert dominance over his staff. Many micro-managers are well-intentioned and take great pride in every detail of their work. After all, it’s their name on the line, right?

No matter the intention, the outcome is the same. Micro-managing causes more harm than good. According to an article by Christina Bielaszka-DuVernay of the Harvard Business Review, “A consistent pattern of micromanagement tells an employee you don’t trust his work or his judgment; it is a major factor in triggering disengagement.” The article goes on to cite evidence from Gallup Press that “absenteeism caused by disengagement costs a typical 10,000-person company $600,000 a year in salary for days where no work was performed, and that ‘disengagement-driven turnover costs most sizable businesses millions every year.’”

Do you want to avoid alienating your team and causing so much dread that they scatter like flies every time you come around the corner? Stop micromanaging with these tips:

 

Put down the hover board.

No one wants to be checked up on every hour of the day. Think about what a time waster you are being—and time does equal money. Learn to trust your employees with the tasks you give them and set clear expectations. Encourage them to communicate with you on their progress—at their own discretion.

Listen.

Get to know what makes your employees tick. Set up individual meetings to understand their working preferences and match them to projects well suited to their interests and strengths. It will keep them engaged while also helping to ease your mind.

Learn to delegate.

It’s impossible to control every little detail of your department; trust your team to help you get the work done. Your job is to see the big picture and set the vision for success. If your staff has been appropriately trained, chances are they will be able to handle the work independently and will appreciate you giving them opportunities to shine. If something goes wrong, that will be a far better learning ground than if you micro-manage and constantly tell staff what may go wrong with any of their planned approaches. By delegating, you have more time to accomplish your own tasks and your staff will become more proficient—a win/win situation!

Appreciate diversity of thought.

Be aware that your team might approach a project differently than you would or produce different results. That’s okay! There is often more than one correct way to complete a project or task and it’s helpful—not harmful—to have a diverse set of perspectives.

Provide feedback and praise.

If you are always on the lookout for mistakes, your team will quickly feel stifled and defeated, and productivity will likely cease. See the positives in each of your employees and let them know when they are doing a solid job. If there is a situation where an employee is not meeting expectations, sit down with them and take the time to figure out what is going on.

 

Micromanaging is no way to build a great team and work environment. Refocus your management style by utilizing these tips and start building trust and confidence in your leadership.

 

Have you manifested into a micromanager? Contact me for help on turning you into a manager that leads!

5 Ways to Inspire Your Team

The word “inspire” brings a cascade of things to mind – sunsets, paintings, trees, books, maybe even a mentor or someone famous. But how often does your workplace manager come to mind? According to a recent Gallup report titled State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders, managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores. To make matters worse, a Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager. Not very inspiring statistics, right?

How can these numbers be improved? Here are some suggestions for leaders to help inspire their team.

See your employees as human beings:

Have you ever asked yourself why you just don’t seem to be connecting with your team? Think about how you can get to know each individual on a level beyond the daily grind. Ask them to share personal stories about their life. Monitor their working habits and assign projects that will cater to their working style and personal strengths. Your employees will perform better and feel valued if they believe you are truly listening to their needs.

Show your human side too:

Share your story with your team, and make sure to talk to your failures as well as your successes. Your team will respect you for your honesty, and they will be able to easily relate to you instead of seeing you as just another distant manager.

Create brainstorming opportunities:

Allow time for your team members to connect and come up with their own ideas. Ensure you are openly accepting of ideas, not immediately judging them (assessment can come later). Book a location outside the usual work environment and watch the sparks fly.

Emphasize purpose:

People like to know their efforts mean something. A purpose-driven employee will be far more engaged and productive. Help your team feel like they are part of the bigger picture by sharing company goals and showing them how their work contributes to those goals. Be sure to check-in regularly with your team as company goals and benchmarks change.

Conduct career advancement meetings, not just feedback meetings:

It is great to meet with your team members on a one-on-one basis to keep abreast of project progress and employee performance, but don’t forget to have career-centered conversations too. Employees know their manager is the one person who will either help or hinder their advancement. Don’t be a roadblock to their success; really take the time to understand their career goals and help them get there.

Hopefully these tips have “inspired” you to take action the next time you walk into work and wish to see improvement in your team!

Contact me if you would like further help with creating an inspiring workplace.

The 5 Personalities You Want On Your Team

5 Personalities for Team

When looking to hire new employees for your company, consider a different approach. Usually an interview is filled with questions regarding past work experience, and relevant skills.

What are your greatest strengths?

What are your biggest weaknesses?

Why should we hire you?

Try delving deeper.

Ask questions that unearth the applicant’s personality, as well as her skill set. Get to know the applicant by framing the interview like a conversation in which you pay attention to the applicant’s personality traits and try to determine which role she could fill within your business.

Which personality gaps exist within your workplace? Are you lacking, say, creativity? Or leadership? To develop balance, harmony, and efficiency within your team, it’s a good idea to have representation of each of the five following personalities:

1. The Leader

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” -John C. Maxwell

A leader inspires, energizes, and encourages others. A leader is comfortable supervising and managing the rest of the team. She must be able to resolve conflict and provide helpful feedback to keep the business growing. A leader isn’t necessarily extroverted, but she must be able to effectively communicate with all other personalities and properly delegate tasks when needed.

2. The Dreamer

“Dreamers are mocked as impractical. The truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all of us.”  -Robin S. Sharma

The dreamer dreams!—of more efficient futures, of better branding, of solutions to those ever-occurring problems. He thinks, How can I make this better? and maps out the answer. When a team is struggling to overcome an obstacle or make an improvement, it is often the creative minds of the dreamers that are able to find the solution.

3. The Go-getter

“To reach a port we must set sail —
Sail, not tie an anchor
Sail, not drift.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Go-getters get. things. done. They are determined, motivated, and dedicated to the task at hand. When confronted with an issue, they often use out-of-the-box thinking to overcome it and keep going. They also look for ways to help and step in when extra attention is needed, which is especially helpful when the company is trying to meet a strict deadline.

4. The Charismatic

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Charismatic people are like magnets—drawing people in, making others feel comfortable and connected. A truly charismatic person is a gem of a find. They are great listeners, emit confidence, and communicate clearly. They often do well working directly with customers and are particularly valuable on sales or customer service-oriented teams.

5. The Curious

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Curious people like to learn. They ask questions, seek answers, and develop their skills. They are constantly delving into new topics and working to better themselves and the company. These are the “early adapters,” the ones who are unafraid to seek new paths and explore new possibilities.

 

By assessing and hiring employees with varying personality traits, you can ensure that your company is well-rounded—that the strengths of one person will overlap the weaknesses of another. Our differences don’t have to divide us; they can make us stronger.

Need help assembling your team? Contact Juli today.

TRUST ME: Foster trust and loyalty from your team

Foster loyalty and trust from team

“Trust me.” How often do we hear those words uttered in the movies? You know, the type where the action hero reaches for the distressed heroine’s hand, urging her to come away with him to safety? In real life, trust must be earned over time. As a leader in the workplace, you cannot just reach out your hand to your employees and expect them to automatically trust you based on your title alone.

Here are some tips to help you foster trust and loyalty from your team:

  • Be committed and consistent: If you want your employees to trust you, commit to them and to your work. Focus, engagement and gratitude are all qualities your team will look for in you, and will want to emulate.
  • Ask questions…and listen to the answers: True connection to your team means hearing them out. Be empathetic and show gratitude toward your employees to grow your relationship in a positive direction.
  • Set clear expectations: Be upfront about priorities and company goals. Ambiguity will only foster distrust.
  • Let your adeptness shine: Competent leaders build trust by showing they have an interest in learning and perfecting their craft. They contribute and follow through with real results. Staying up-to-date on trends truly proves commitment to those you oversee.
  • Leave some breathing room: A good leader fosters trust by giving Instead of looking over your team’s shoulders, step back and give them room to complete projects on their own, using their unique perspectives and approaches.
  • Hone your “executive presence”: Gravitas (how you act), communication (how you speak) and appearance (how you look) make up your “executive presence,” according to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success. Hewlett’s research found gravitas to be the most important; the self-confidence to stay calm under pressure is crucial. But there’s more to it. “A big part of gravitas is a knack for conveying tremendous amounts of knowledge and giving people the impression you could go ‘six questions deep’ on the subject you’re talking about, but in a way that’s concise,” Hewlett explains. “Attention spans are so short now that, whether it’s in a speech or in a meeting, you have to show how you can add value in a way that’s both compelling and brief.”

Consciously build this advice into your leadership methodology and you will form a loyal team, built on mutual respect, that everyone will want to join. Only then can you reach out that superhero hand and ask for trust.

Gaining trust from your team is a process. Want to kick it into high gear? Contact me to find out how I can help build cohesive teams within your company.

Becoming a Trusted Expert

Business Performance, Expertise Concept

Whether you’re already an expert in your field or working on becoming one, establishing your expertise is a crucial step toward gaining trust and building your reputation. The process may seem intimidating, but I’ve outlined a few simple ways to establish yourself as a trusted leader in your field.

Already an expert?

In an environment where anyone can launch a website and claim expertise, it’s not enough to be an expert; you have to be a trusted expert. The hallmark of a trusted expert is sharing knowledge, but keep in mind that quality is as important as quantity. How can you start creating and sharing quality material to establish yourself as a trusted expert? Start with three simple steps:

  1. Read – It’s important to read the blogs and books written by leaders in your field. Trade associations are a great resource. Most have publications full of articles written by industry leaders. You can use them to find the gaps in industry knowledge by examining what’s out there.
  1. Write – Once you’re equipped to provide the information the industry is missing, go back to the trade publications and pitch articles or write guest posts for blogs. If you need help getting your foot in the door, ask a previous contributor how they did it. Doing this regularly will give you the content you need to support your expertise.
  1. Speak – Use the content you’ve created to get a spot on a panel or to speak at a seminar. Professional speaking engagements are a great way to gain trust. Trade associations are always looking for people to speak at meetings, seminars, conferences, and conventions. Partner with a successful speaker to offer your unique perspective and gain an instant audience.

Aspiring to expertise?

Every expert started out with no training or experience. Experts continually improve their performance and if you push yourself, set goals, and get feedback you’ll be able to do the same.

  1. Push yourself – You know how to drive a car, but would you call yourself an expert driver? Most people learn how to drive a car and then it becomes automatic. Racecar drivers are experts. They constantly tweak their cars and push their comfort zones to go faster and faster. You can take the same approach with building up your expertise. If you do the same things over and over again in the same way, you create habit, not expertise. Strive continually for incrementally better performance and you’ll eventually become an expert.
  1. Set goals – Successful people set both large and small goals. Small goals can seem pointless without large ones and large goals can seem unattainable without small ones. Set both and you’ll be able to 1) focus on the big picture when the day-to-day is getting you down and 2) immerse yourself in the details when you get overwhelmed.
  1. Get feedback – Frequent, salient feedback is one of the most important parts of improving your performance. It’s also one of the hardest things to come by. Find someone who knows what good performance looks like and be open to the feedback they provide. A coach is an excellent source of feedback and could be an experienced colleague, a leader in your industry, or a career consultant.

If you’re just starting out, you have an advantage because you can position yourself to be a trusted expert as you gain your expertise. If you find a knowledge gap in your industry, you can specialize and fill it, saving time and energy.

Contact me for help establishing yourself as a trusted expert or planning your path to expertise.