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  • Chris Preston 9:00 am on March 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , leadership by values, , , trust   

    Trust. Don’t ask for it, work for it. 

    Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
    Trust is an unequal commodity in life.  With some people, we give it unequivocally – to the surgeon that is about to operate on our heart, or to the bank that holds our money (actually, perhaps this one isn’t so strong). With others, it’s hard won, and we hold back giving trust until certain fundamentals are demonstrated.

    “Trust me…” goes the saying, and in business, it’s something we regularly ask of our colleagues, our partners, our customers and our loved ones. We all say it and doubtless mean it, but how many people actually know how to practically go about building a foundation for trust? Until recently, I had no idea and, like most of us, assumed it was something intangible that grew as time passed. However, more and more I’ve been working with leaders that demonstrate it, and have highly developed approaches that boil down into four solid components that are applicable in any situation where trust between two individuals, teams or a person and an organisation is required.

    The Complete Trust Model: relationship, honesty, humility and consistency

    Where I use these four components of what I’ve termed the Complete Trust model the conversations always start with ‘which one’s the most important?’ This is a difficult one, as you’ll see; they are interdependent and taking one out breaks the cycle. However, I do think there’s one that we all regularly neglect – I’ll save that for last.

    1. Investment in Relationships

    The first element is Investment in Relationships  – taking the time and making the effort to both be known by the other person and knowing about them in return. If you are asking someone for their trust then it’s only fair that they have a reasonable level of insight into the person doing the asking. Without this, it’s similar to a stranger wanting to borrow money from you.

    Knowing about someone isn’t enough – you have to demonstrate this knowledge to them – even if it’s as simple as using their name. One CEO we work with gave himself the challenge of learning six people’s names a week to increase his levels of trust. When he used them, the results were amazing – people lit up and engaged with him more openly.

    2. Honesty

    Secondly, there’s the need for a high level of Honesty – not pulling away from the tough conversations that people won’t want to hear. For some managers, the desire to be popular makes them avoid sharing negatives, which simply builds up mistrust, as people find out the information for themselves and question why it wasn’t shared. Honesty is also about saying when you got it wrong, not deflecting blame or spinning a story. This is really about making the truth a virtue for yourself.

    3. Humility

    Humility follows this, being able to put aside authority, position and status to both accept tough feedback and to be able to talk about personal failure without being defensive or evasive. The word actually means ‘from the earth’ – being humble is about re-grounding yourself on a firm standing, and stepping down from a position of power to ensure people see the human side of yourself. In one technology company we work with, the CEO has a communication route that’s labelled ‘Tell the CEO’ – it was changed from ‘Ask the CEO’, and has a huge influx of considered responses.

    4. Consistency

    Finally, and what I think is the most neglected aspect, is Consistency. This mandates that what you do in the other three, you do repeatedly and in the same manner. So many people talk, particularly with regards to the Investment in Relationships element, of doing it ‘when they have the time’. As soon as you are inconsistent, people lose faith in you and trust is broken.

    Consistency is about having the desire, focus and tools to implement long-term strategies with regards to people, information and yourself. It also dictates that you actively monitor your own behavior – identifying where you act inconsistently, let pride cloud the issue or fail to share the tough message, and challenge yourself to work on lessening or removing these instances.

    These four apply to every interaction we have – customers that receive inconsistent service that treats them as a number quickly disappear. People working for a leader who never tells the truth about bad things will find other, more trusted leaders to work with. Trust even extends to the organization – companies that espouse new values every 12 – 18 months will struggle to build trust from their workforce.

    My final, cautionary, note on trust is that it won’t necessarily make you liked – it’s what you put into those four elements that will do that, being consistently unpleasant does, in a perverse way, build trust – people will know that you’re always going to be like that.  Getting the balance right involves working methodically within the four areas I’ve detailed and focusing on your personal style to ensure they are inclusive, equitable and mature.

    Chris Preston (@Trimprop) is a Psychology graduate and specializes in internal communication and team development. He currently is Director at The Culture Builders.


  • Juan Manuel Rodríguez 10:41 am on March 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: focus, , , leadership by values, , , , quiet leader, quiet leadership   

    Quiet leadership: a new leadership option for the 21st century company 

    Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

    Quiet waterLast February 21, EADA held an interesting conference by Steven Poelmans on the concept of quiet leadership. Steven has investigated leadership in depth in neuroscience, he is coach, partner and director at WIO, he has lectured at IESE and is collaborator at ESADE. He currently is director of the Coaching Competency Center at EADA.

    Here you have a summary of the concepts he explained, which are directly related to organizational changes that are happening in organizations now.

    Quiet” can have different connotations: silent, calm, serene, discrete… These characteristics can be applied to a different type of leader, unlike all the other types that come to mind: omnipresent, extrovert, domineering, and hyperactive.

    Focus to perform better

    That the “quiet leader” emerges now is no coincidence. In a world swamped by infotoxication and constant interruptions, where we are “online” all of the time, one of the missions of the new leader has to be to protect and filter out noise and interruptions (and of course, not add any more), in order for employees to be able to focus and perform better, at the same time be more motivated so that they collaborate.

    Focus is not a trivial issue. Neuroscience shows that we can only perform optimally when we have one idea in mind at the same time. The curve over time of our performance when working on a task has peak shape:

    1. At the start, we need time to gather the necessary information and we do not provide value.
    2. After we perform the task itself.
    3. Finally, adding more time doesn’t mean we’re going to do the job any better… it’s quite the opposite!

    There are shades of gray, like in everything. Apart from individual differences, women in general tend to have a greater capacity to jump from one thing to the next without performance being as affected. But what is surprising is that we would be more efficient without all those continuous changes.

    Multitasking is a “necessary evil” due to the ever-changing environment we live in, but it would be better for all us if we could minimize it.

    If we have constant interruptions (emails, chat, excessive multitasking or the habit of never saying no to anything, or commenting on everything with the person beside us), we are permanently moving focus from one task to another and we never manage to exceed the initial area in the performance curve. The overall result is we spend too much time on that initial phase. The end “sum” of the performance curves at the end of the day will be more horizontal: our performance will be worse than what we could have done without all those changes in tasks.

    As you can see in the post “Time, the last frontier”, many companies are declaring “email-free days” to reduce interruptions and increase productivity. Others like Nike have taken things a step further: when a person needs to concentrate on a long task, they hang a sign saying “Genius At Work”, so that their colleagues are aware of it. These initiatives need the overall culture to support it. It seems that our society nowadays doesn’t tolerate isolation, even if it is temporal.

    What role does the “quiet leader” play in all this?

    Moments of peace and serenity

    These moments are needed to keep focus. Planning and respecting certain limits helps. But we also need to switch off every now and then, as it makes us more creative and efficient. Encouraging these guidelines on a smaller scale (seconds or minutes) or a larger scale (hours or days) is beneficial in the long run. Often it allows us to solve problems that we have been battling to burst for a long time.

    Calm with positive reinforcement

    Dopamine is released when we are relaxed and have rewarding positive experiences. The mission of the leader is to maintain that state in all members of the team. It has been shown that fear only has a passing positive effect and is counterproductive in the long run.


    Simply listening to how someone expresses their fears, frustrations or anger, but also their hopes, expectations and motivations, can be the first step to winning their trust and starting to be recognized as a leader.


    The feeling of having influence, impact, control over things calms the brain and makes us more motivated. The mission of the leader is to delegate enough so that their collaborators feel that ability to influence, and thus create new leaders, as Virginio Gallardo suggests in his post We are all transforming leaders in social networks. A transcultural investigation showed that having impact made people in all cultures feel happier. The concept of intraentrepreneur arises from that plot of freedom, which people take advantage of to start projects proactively.

    The organizational change required

    If we imagine an organization that takes onboard that behavior, obviously it will need some essential ingredients:

    • A business culture that not only tolerates but encourages that behavior
    • An involved management that sets examples
    • Tools that reduce interruptions, encourage intraentrepreneur initiative and increases productivity in those moments where we manage to maintain focus.

    If we talk about the tools required for putting this new style of working into action, environments for gathering corporate information, which are organized, structured and non-intrusive, may be a good solution.

    Enterprise Social Networks like Zyncro address this need for order and structure, and minimize the exernal impact of the chaos.

    Why not try it out?


  • Mertxe Pasamontes 10:37 am on January 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: leadership by values, ,   

    Is your company within the new paradigm? 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    The new postmaterialistic paradigm bears its head every so often in the media, almost too timidly for my liking. Postmaterialism is a concept defined by Ronald Inglehart where current societies tend towards a society which is based more on the ideas of self-expression and participation (“postmaterialism”) than on previous values, economic security and citizen security (“materialism”). Postmaterialism is based on values (Spanish)  like participating in work decisions and policies, progressing towards more human values, looking after the environment, freedom of expression… If you want to delve further into the idea of postmaterialism topic,  Jordi Pigem, author of La Buena crisis, is one of the philosophers working on it.

    The vast part of the global economy struggles and tosses about like a fish out of water, taking its last precious breaths while waiting for an economic growth that never seems to come. Maybe because this growth won’t be exactly the same as how experts had anticipated (infinite growth) and maybe it’s not about quantity of life but quality of life. Quality of life is more associated with “Being” rather than “Having”.

    Some companies have already started to understand this, although not many. They have started to understand that CSR (corporate social responsibility) is not something just for selling a good reputation (because later, if they’re caught, the consequences are worse), but it needs to be something real. A way to start is by applying those ethical principles and values internally, with the employees themselves. The indexes indicated by Best place to work gives us an idea of how there can be a good working atmosphere in some companies and this obviously is better when people feel well looked after.

    The key lies having leaders that are more organizational culture directors than bosses. Employees that become involved feel well looked after, recognized and valued, and align their values with that of the company. Those values need to be real, the company needs to have something valuable and useful, a reason for being beyond just earning money in the short term. A company needs to earn money to survive but that can’t be its only purpose. It is within this context where Philosophy 2.0 takes its true meaning. It’s not about having a Twitter account and a Facebook page, but being really 2.0, collaborating and sharing.

    These companies are the ones that start to understand and apply the postmaterialistic era. These are the ones that will continue in the future because they apply leadership by values, companies that are based on ethical principles, that collaborate and share, create value. They invest, seeing themselves to be metaphorically investing in “Gross Domestic Happiness”, like they have done in Bhutan, rather than in “Gross Domestic Product”. They comprehend Plato’s quote that says: May I do unto others as I would that they should do unto me.

    Now ask yourself, if you are an employer: Is your company within the new paradigm?

    And if you’re an “employee”: What type of company do I want to work for?


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