Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, once said that when he asked employees to tell him something about their jobs they inevitably began by telling him about their boss. “If I only know how to manage the boss.” Therefore, he dedicated an entire chapter named, “Managing the Boss” in his famous academic book called “Management.”
Drucker reckons that managing the boss is both an opportunity and a responsibility and outlines seven specific strategies to success:
- Make a “boss list.”
- Asking each for his or her input, and giving each your input
- Enabling them to perform
- Playing to the manager’s strengths
- Keeping managers informed
- Protecting bosses from surprises
- Never underrating bosses
We outline here seven more:
When you accept a task, your boss expects and relies on you to get the job done. If you are serious about impressing your boss, you better get it done as if your life depended on it. Never promise anything to your boss if you are not confident of doing the job. When the boss sees you as a person who keeps promises on a consistent basis, it is much easier to be in friendly terms. And your credibility as a person would rise a few notches up.
Bosses need cooperation and honesty from their direct reports. Subordinates, on the other hand, require managers to set priorities and make critical resources available promptly to conduct the work efficiently. Smoother the operation, better the relationship between the worker and the boss. It requires the employee to understand the personality traits, communication preferences, and subtle nuances of the bosses and adapt their working style accordingly. Because, after all, success in the workplace depends on your adaptability. The boss needs you as much as you need him/her. Hence establish a working relationship that is compatible to both of you.
If the boss is not aware of certain trends in the market that could derail your plan it is better to disclose that at an early stage so that nothing comes as a surprise. Moreover, the boss may be able to put measures in place that can mitigate risks and help you get on with your assignment without any disruption. Any manager would appreciate a trend-spotter in the organization. In fact, it is an essential skill of a competent employee. It is also a commendable trait to have a conversation about the potential challenges you could face in carrying out your project due to the upcoming trends. Agree on a plan of action and provide periodic updates.
Even if you think you have the permission to be casual with your boss do not go overboard in your friendliness. Keep a professional distance that is acceptable to both of you taking into consideration the company culture and the norms of the workplace. Your professionalism will also stand you in good stead when your boss does your annual appraisal or when considering promotions within or between departments. Developing a professional relationship can earn you your boss’s respect and admiration and will also set a good example for new recruits and junior employees. If you think things are not going well, handle it in a professional manner rather than let your emotions take control.
Bosses can be under immense pressure and may falter in performing the necessary managerial roles. It can have an unintended adverse effect on your job performance. Try to find out the reasons and politely discuss this with your boss but never confront because confrontation can deteriorate the relationship. It is feasible to manage the challenges with an open discussion and debate successfully. If needed, include a trusted HR personnel or a departmental colleague who can assist you in augmenting your arguments. That way you can have an eye witness to the discussion that happened between you and your boss.
Send your messages across to the boss using the right strategies. When you have an important point to stress that can benefit the whole company and have a positive impact on the bottom line try to demonstrate the highlights using either a spreadsheet or a visual demo. Remember most people are visuals. Zero in on what matters to the boss the most. Then hone in and use your persuasive skills. It is especially useful if your ideas and concepts are innovative and novel. You may be asked to repeat the demonstration during the staff meeting for everyone to see. It is often a good sign as it shows that you have got your boss’ attention.
Leave your boss
You may reach a point where you have tried all the strategies mentioned above, and none sufficed. Well, time to quit. A vast majority of workers leave jobs because of an unmanageable boss. It is better to look for greener pastures than to be stuck in a rut. Employees spend a good portion of the waking hours at the workplace. If an unhappy boss is making the workplace toxic, you should do yourself a favor and get out of the negative atmosphere. An ideal situation would be to find another job before you leave so that you do not have to feel the pressure of mounting bills. If you have an approachable colleague, who can understand you, feel free to discuss the matter with him/her.
We have come a long way from the time Peter Drucker outlined the seven strategies on how to manage the boss. Although all of them are still relevant, the organizational dynamics and employee roles have changed slightly and required additional tactics. Moreover, the rise of technology-based jobs and the entrance of Millennials into the job market have added to the complexity of the dynamics.
Trust is the key for building successful sales relationships; it is also the driving factor for success in business and personal relationships. The absence of trust is a one-way ticket to failure. People in general, and customers in particular, are more suspicious than ever about claims companies and salespeople make. Companies must create trust to gain and maintain a competitive advantage, build their brand and become the employer of choice. Those of us in the sales and marketing profession must do the same to become the supplier or partner of choice and to be viewed as a trusted advisor by our customers.
Bold proclamations and hyped–up statements regarding products and services along with unsubstantiated claims and promises abound everywhere. In the midst of all this confusion, how do we differentiate ourselves in a genuine, credible and trustworthy manner? Start by clearly defining what it is you stand for and promise to deliver. Trust is created when you tell your customers what they can, and should expect when dealing with you. Things such as core values, guiding principles and promises your branding messages communicate all govern and influence actions and behaviours and lead to a consistent customer experience that will build trust.
If you are serious about building trust, make it personal. Go beyond your company’s promises or slogans and define what your customers can expect from you as a sales and marketing professional.
This is the key point of differentiation for those that achieve top tier status in our profession. Ultimately trust is earned based on actions and behaviours not on words or empty promises. This truth is captured in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say”. Do your actions reinforce your words and claims?
Consider the impact of trust – improved speed of doing business; increased creativity and innovation in the solutions and services provided; absence of suspicion or doubt; reduced claims or rework due to misunderstandings; increased profitability because of improved efficiency and clarity. Probably the most important outcome of all is the increased perceived value of you, your services and products because you and your customer are operating in the zone of truth and trust.
The six core drivers that lead to building strong trust based relationships are:
- Self Trust – Do you trust yourself? Before you can lay claim of being a sales person or marketer that can be trusted to provide high value solutions, you must be able to define the attributes which make you trust worthy. Here is a list for you to consider and reflect upon. Are you responsible, accountable, credible, trustworthy, reputable and authentic in all your dealings?
- Dependability – This attribute is critical to become trusted and sought out as the provider of choice. Too many sales and marketers promise the moon and deliver nothing more than moon dust. Dependability is forged by doing the following – making your word your bond, following through, demonstrating loyalty, being reliable and keeping your promises and not wavering even in challenging or difficult situations.
- Competence – The professional marketer and seller must deliver solid results and outcomes to demonstrate their competence and skill. Customer’s trust and support of us increases when we deliver on, or exceed their expectations. Our competence and ability is evidenced by our education and certifications, experience, skill, thoroughness, diligence and attention to detail. Education and knowledge upgrades are essential for professional marketers and sellers. SMEI offers a variety of resources such as chapter events, online programs, and certification which are all valuable resources to increase competence and remain current on best practices of our profession.
- Ethics – Perhaps nothing says more about your trustworthiness than your ethics. Making decisions and taking action that is right versus expedient is essential if you are committed to being a marketing and sales professional. Ethics and standards are not a do-it yourself job. If you are not certain regarding the ethical standards for our profession visit the SMEI web site and review the 11 points in the Marketing Creed as a starting point. Factors relating to ethics are confidentiality, discretion, diplomacy, respect, integrity and professional certifications that define the code or standards by which we operate.
- Customer Centric – It’s not about you. As the sales legend Zig Ziglar said “You can have anything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”. Customer focus and allegiance, commitment, selflessness (without being taken advantage of) and dedication are the foundation for long term success in sales and marketing. Commit to provide value in every customer encounter whether in person, via email or when using social media; make everything you do count to become more valuable to your customers.
- Likeability – Being a person that is genuinely liked and valued by customers is one of the key factors for success in selling. This does not mean playing up to your customers in a patronizing or disingenuous manner. I am referring to a genuine likeability because of your professionalism, manners, positive attitude, courtesy and a sincere desire to assist without immediate reward or recognition. The ultimate goal is one of long term results and success.
Trust – it’s ultimately all dependent on you! It is essential that you consider the various ways of enhancing and building your personal brand to the point where you are viewed as a strategic partner or trusted advisor in the eyes of your customers. Apply the six core drivers to become more successful and develop trust based relationships and grow your career as a professional marketer or sales person.
SMEI will present a webinar with Ralph Kison on the subject of the Role of Trust in Professional Sales on Thursday, March 14, 2013.
ABOUT RALPH KISON
Ralph Kison, President of Growth Through Learning, Professional Development Specialists
Ralph assists organizations committed to employee development in the areas of: Training and Development, Management Coaching, Talent Management and online learning. He brings passion, innovation and experience to each project. He leads and directs organizations and their employees to achieve their full potential by acquiring skills and applying proven business development processes and techniques. Ralph’s career spans over 25 years in sales, management and consulting with experience in the engineering, architectural, construction, distribution and insurance industries. An accomplished speaker, Ralph has addressed numerous organizations and groups across North America.
Ralph is a graduate of the University of British Columbia Marketing and Sales Management Program and a certified CME and CSE. He has taught professional sales courses at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and for SMEI Vancouver. Ralph is a member and past President of Sales and Marketing Executives International of Vancouver (SMEI) and is a member and past President of the Canadian Society for Marketing Professional Services of Vancouver (CSMPS).
Teams are more than the sum of their parts. Yet when the “dark side” is
allowed to flourish—as in the case of Lance Armstrong—great harm can result.
Here, bestselling author Bruce Piasecki explains how to make sure your
team is working from a positive place and focused on the good of all.
Over the past few months, sports fans around the world have watched the downfall of the most celebrated cyclist of all time: Lance Armstrong. Just last week his televised confession interview with Oprah Winfrey—where he admitted to doping, using blood transfusions, and more—riveted the public. But what interests Bruce Piasecki most about the Armstrong story are the lessons it offers the business world about the nature of teams.
“Over the years I’ve come to realize a truth that has permeated every aspect of my work and my life,” says Piasecki, author of the upcoming book Doing More with Teams: The New Way to Winning. “The team is more powerful than the individual. Teams expand the human experience. They extend our wings in practical, pragmatic, and measurable ways. People who would not normally be able to succeed alone—the planners, the doers, those who lack the internal spark to market themselves—can reap the benefits of success in the context of teams.
“Yet many teams have a dark side,” he adds. “When these darker impulses are allowed to eclipse the joyful transcendence that teamwork can bring, great harm can result. Evil deeds flourish. People get hurt. Lance Armstrong is just one very dramatic and very visible example of what can go wrong with teams.”
In his book, Piasecki has much to say about Armstrong. He cites the 200-plus-page report that was published and released in 2012 by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency about this most favored athlete. Twenty-six competitors (including a deliberate mix of direct teammates and key opposing team riders) verified the claims of what the New York Times called “a massive doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history.”
In particular, eleven world-class teammates from the Lance Armstrong teams documented how all the doping was centered around and for Lance. Most damning, George Hincapie, Armstrong’s closest friend and fellow teammate during each of his seven Tour de France victories, confessed to doping with Armstrong. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report noted the evidence made clear that Mr. Armstrong had “ultimate control over his own personal drug use,” and that “he also dictated its use over the doping culture for his team and the sport at large.”
Compare these dynamics to those of other well-known sports team, says Piasecki, and you’ll see a marked contrast.
“It was pure pleasure for a decade to watch how Michael Jordan fit his court family, which was deep and full of different personalities like the quiet Scottie Pippen and the very outrageous Dennis Rodman,” he says. “The beauty of this team was that its members worked together in a way that allowed everyone to learn together where they fit while working for the common good.”
Similar dynamics play out on the “courts” of the business world every day. And when teams are well constructed with the right mix of talents and personalities—and well governed by leaders who recognize the most important capabilities in their people and facilitate them for the good of all—companies achieve, grow, and prosper. Yet when the “dark side” takes over, we see Enrons, WorldComs, Madoffs…and yes, Armstrongs.
So can we in the business world learn from the tragedy of Lance Armstrong? Here are seven lessons Piasecki says leaders would do well to heed:
Fierce individualism has no place in teams. Just the fact that we think of Lance Armstrong’s teams as “Lance Armstrong’s teams” speaks volumes. It was as if Armstrong’s entire team (Team RadioShack being the most recent) was there only for him. When we pin all of our hopes on an individual, we are doomed to be disappointed. This is because youth and ability have a way of fading over time. Youthful arrogance, due to its fleeting nature, is no foundation on which to build a future. We need the shoulder strength of teams to keep us competent.
“As leaders, we need to be sure that ‘the MVP syndrome’ is not allowed to define our teams,” Piasecki stresses. “Be always on the alert for individuals who might be losing sight of the team that gave them an identity—the group with whom they worked to produce the fame for which they are now known. It is in such situations that workplace ills such as favoritism, sexism, and even criminal activity like embezzlement tend to flourish.
“What ‘practical’ advice do I have?” he asks. “Seek to hire ‘coachable’ individuals rather than individualist-minded high performers. Do everything possible to promote and reward teamwork rather than individualism. Whether your efforts are centered on pay structure, group incentives, verbal recognition, or some other technique, seek always to send the signal that it’s strong teams (not strong individuals) that make up a strong company.”
MVPs must not be allowed to dictate to or pressure teammates. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report made it clear that Armstrong was driving the doping culture of his team. It stated, “It was not enough that his teammates give maximum effort on the bike; he also required that they adhere to a doping program outlined for them or be replaced.”
“Here’s what I know: You cannot do more with teams in an atmosphere of intimidation, deception, and contract pressures,” Piasecki states. “You cannot ride into victory more than average with that much weight of secrecy on your mind. You cannot make friends victims as you claim victory. This all goes against the magic of teams.”
We must be careful not to give victors the benefit of the doubt. In all teams there is an inherent desire to protect our superstars and keep them winning. (Never mind all the others whose quieter, though no less critical, contributions are downplayed.) Armstrong was able to perpetrate his deceptions thanks to, as the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report states, “the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers, and others within and outside the sport and on his own team.”
“We are all aware of conditions when everyone else was willing to go along with a wrong,” Piasecki points out. “We recall instances in recent history where the politics of fear enabled the Nazis, and where embezzlement seems the norm. Yet it is harder to see when victory shines so bright. Leaders must be mindful of this very human tendency, in themselves and in others, to look the other way, to give our victors the benefit of the doubt. We must be vigilant and ever alert to wrongdoing. We must be willing to ferret out corruption in the highest echelons, to bench the MVP, even to fire the superstar for the good of the team and the sake of integrity.”
Ceaseless victory is a fantasy. Teams must keep a healthy sense of perspective. Lance Armstrong became a larger-than-life figure because he kept winning races. (Indeed, he won his race against his most formidable foe, cancer.) He was addicted to victory—felt entitled to it, even—and this is what drove him to drive his team to illicit extremes. In the end it was this addiction (to ceaseless victory, not to drugs) that became his undoing. The lesson is clear: When we don’t learn to tolerate failure, we will do anything to keep the public adulation coming.
“I believe if others had taught Armstrong where the tolerance of losing is mixed with the pleasure of knowing we have tried our best, he would have proven a more dependable competitor,” Piasecki says. “The great CEOs, the well-compensated doctors, the best in hospital administrators, and the legendary leaders of colleges are not people known to expect ceaseless victory. They are great competitors because they come to accept that we cannot always win. (Indeed, only through loss can we grow and improve.)
“Leaders must instill in teams this tolerance of losing,” Piasecki continues. “In word and deed we must convey that failure is a part of life and thus a part of business. We must model this truth by allowing our own weaknesses, flaws, and vulnerabilities to show. We must refrain from punishing teams who give it their best shot yet fall short of victory. And after a defeat, we must insist that employees ‘get back on the horse’ as team players and ride full-tilt toward the next contest. In this way the pain of loss will naturally dissipate.”
Great teams revel in the pleasure of persistence and the sheer thrill of striving.Presumably, Lance Armstrong and his teams could be satisfied only with an unbroken string of victories. But where else is satisfaction to be found? Piasecki posits that once we’ve accepted that defeat is a part of the journey, there is great fun—yes, fun—in knowing that we will stumble and fall from time to time, yet get up, and try again, with some success. Another way to say it is this: Accepting the reality of our imperfection takes the pressure off. Then, and only then, do we free ourselves to feel the pleasure of persistence and the sheer thrill of striving.
Piasecki insists that it’s critical to teach teams to be well prepared for assignments and to keep going in spite of hardship. He shares, “When my company enrolls an executive in leadership training, we emphasize the following lessons of teamwork:
– How to play through pain
– How to resist the criminal opportunities inherent in becoming an MVP
– How to keep your feet on the ground despite being a member of special teams with special force
– How to outlive uncomfortable appointments, such as when your boss has selected you for teams that are a bad fit, and how to behave when you are chosen for teams you do not want to play on
“In the end, all of our training is about the pleasure of accomplishment in teams,” he says. “Life can be a tough slog, and victories are sporadic at best. Maybe we can’t win but we can keep going. This striving brings with it its own unique rewards. It is up to us to learn to appreciate them. In a world full of pain and blind ambition, the pleasure of accomplishment may prove the most reliable path to make the great reliably greater.”
What makes teams successful is a sense of commonality, shared values, integrity, and a commitment to one another. In preparing for a team event, or in becoming a member of a team, a transformation occurs where team members end their individual associations and create a team identity through sharing with others the experience of that process. Once the team is created, a strong bond is already in place from that preparation, from the obstacles everyone had to overcome to get there.
When joining the military, everyone has a crucible, basic training, which really isn’t basic at all and is usually the hardest experience to get through, Piasecki points out. The crucible is something all members have to overcome to be part of the team. They shave all the soldiers’ heads to take away their individual designations and rebuild them as team members, reshape their identities into a shared identity.
“We have many ways to create bonding experiences in business,” he asserts. “There is nothing wrong with off-site team-building events or weekly social gatherings—the more people are together the better they get to know each other—but there is no substitute for ‘real-world’ work. Bring people together often so they can share their progress, brainstorm ideas to keep projects moving, and generate the synergy needed to move from being a collection of individuals to becoming an interconnected, mutually dependent team. Great teams mourn losses together. They celebrate success together. Always, they share information and hold themselves accountable to the team.”
The right “captains” can help us build teams strong enough to withstand the dark side.Here, of course, in the choosing and nurturing of captains, is where all of the lessons coalesce. It takes a certain type of leader to create not just a loose affiliation of fierce individualists but a true team. Piasecki’s definition of a captain is someone who can rapidly recognize the key capabilities of their team members. They are able to see the capacity for harm and evil and quickly disarm it (as opposed to Lance Armstrong, who allowed it to flourish and even promoted it). On the other hand, captains recognize the capacity for generosity and quickly put it to use in building up other team members and generating momentum. In this way they build teams that balance the negatives in each member, making a stronger and better core.
“Captains also treat their team members with a kind of fierce immediacy, and they achieve team coherence and team integrity in the process,” Piasecki continues. “Captains do not take the time to—as I heard from several military sources—‘wait for solutions.’ Instead, ‘they seek possible solutions and test them on the fly.’
“So, keeping teams safely away from ‘the dark side’ begins with ensuring that the right captains are at the helm. All of which brings to mind a big question: Are captains made, or are they born? Personally, I think the answer is ‘both.’ In my work I have found that many leaders have the raw material to be captains. They simply need to be nurtured and developed in ways that coax forth their inherent noble qualities and bring them to full flower.”
“Invest in your captains,” Piasecki concludes. “Choose them well and use them wisely. Give them authority to align and make accountable those capable of evil, harm, and generosity. They will bring the results and the profits you are looking for—and along the way they will empower your people to extend their wings and soar in the magic that only teams can generate.”
About the Author:
Dr. Bruce Piasecki is the author of the upcoming book Doing More with Teams: The New Way to Winning and president and founder of AHC Group, Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in energy, materials, and environmental corporate matters, whose clients range from Suncor Energy, Hess, FMC, the Warren Buffett firm Shaw Industries, Toyota, and other global companies in his Corporate Affiliates training workshops.
Piasecki is the author of several seminal books on business strategy, valuation, and corporate change, including the Nature Society’s book of the year In Search of Environmental Excellence: Moving Beyond the Blame, as well as recent New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller Doing More with Less. His newest book, Doing More with Teams, will be published by Wiley in March 2013.
Since 1981, he has advised companies about the critical areas of corporate governance, energy, environmental strategy, product innovation, and sustainability strategy with his teams of senior associates. See www.brucepiasecki.com and www.ahcgroup.com for more details.
We are in a crisis, and it’s not the financial one. At the World Economic Forum in China, world leaders got it right when they declared that our biggest crisis is a lack of trust and confidence. We are in a trust crisis and few people really understand the bottom line implications.
Trust not only affects credit and government relations, but it also affects every relationship. And as we know, sales is all about relationships, and your primary currency is not money – it’s trust.
If you think trust is just a “soft skill,” consider the impact of Tiger Woods’ behavior off the golf course, which lost him millions of dollars in just a matter of weeks. One breach of trust at Penn State University could cost them $1 billion over the next decade. If you have a loan on your home, your mortgage payment is based on your credit score, which is essentially a trust score. The more the bank trusts you, the higher the score, the less you pay over the course of the loan. Trust impacts the bottom line.
Sales people can get caught up in seeking the newest sales tactic or closing tech¬nique, but without trust, they won’t even get in the door. Without trust, you lose sales. But when individuals acquire what I call the trust edge—the competitive advantage you gain when others have a confident belief in you to do what is right, deliver what is promised, and to be the same every time, in spite of circumstances—it shows in every relationship, and eventually is demonstrated by increased sales.
Trust is the unique commonality of the most successful sales people. Obtaining this level of trust isn’t easy, so if you are looking for a quick fix, don’t look to trust. Trust is like a forest—it takes a long time to grow, and is easily burned down with a just touch of carelessness. The good news is that we can build this fundamental key to success by building and maintaining eight pillars of trust.
1. Consistency: In every area of life, it’s the little things—done consistently—that make the big difference. If I am overweight, it is because I have eaten too many calories over time, not because I ate too much yesterday. It is the same in business. The little things done consistently make for increased sales and retention, and a higher level of trust. The great sales people consistently do the small, but most important things first. They make that call and write that thank you note. Do the little things, consistently.
2. Clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust or distrust the ambiguous. Be clear about your mission, purpose, expectations, and daily activities. When a manager is clear in expectations, she will likely get what she wants. When we are clear about priorities on a daily basis, we become productive and effective. When a sales person is clear about the benefits, people buy.
3. Compassion: Think beyond yourself, and never underestimate the power of sincerely caring about another person. People are often skeptical about whether a sales person really their best interests in mind. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not just an old saying—it is a bottom line truth. If followed, you will build trust.
4. Character: Do what is right over what is easy. Sales people that have built this pillar consistently did what needed to be done when it needed to be done whether they felt like doing it or not. It is the work of life to do what is right over what is easy.
5. Contribution: Few things build trust quicker than actual results. At the end of the day, people need to see outcomes. You can have compassion and character, but without the results you promised, people won’t trust you. Be a contributor that delivers real results.
6. Competency: Staying fresh, relevant and capable builds trust. The humble and teachable person keeps learning new ways of doing things, and stays current on ideas and trends. According to one study the key competency of new MBA’s is not a specific skill, but rather the ability to learn amidst chaos. Arrogance and a “Been-there-done-that” attitude prevent you from growing, and they compromise others’ confidence in you. There is always more to learn, so make a habit of reading, learning, and listening to fresh information.
7. Connection: People want to follow, buy from, and be around friends – and being friends is all about building a connection. Trust is all about relationships, and relationships are best built by establishing genuine connection. Ask questions, listen, and above all, show gratitude—it’s the primary trait of truly talented connectors. Grateful people are not entitled, they do not complain, and they do not gossip. Develop the trait of gratitude and you will be a magnet.
8. Commitment: Stick with it through adversity. People trusted General Patton, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Jesus and George Washington because they saw commitment and sacrifice for the greater good. Commitment builds trust.
Building trust with prospects and clients in this suspicious environment does not start with the economy, government, or even your organization. It starts with YOU—you can build these pillars and enjoy greater relationships, revenue and results.
David Horsager, MA, CSP, is an award-winning speaker, author, producer, and business strategist who has researched and spoken on the bottom-line impact of trust across four continents. He is the author of The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line which gives the framework for building trust in at work or at home. Get free resources and more at www.DavidHorsager.com and www.TheTrustEdge.com.
You’ve heard we are in the midst of a financial crisis. That much is obvious. But, did you know our financial woes pale in comparison to the crisis of trust we have on our hands? That’s right. Our most significant crisis revolves around a lack of trust. When even leaders of the World Economic Forum agree that our biggest crisis is a lack of trust and confidence, you know it must be serious. Sadly, few people really understand the bottom line implications. Not only does it affect credit and government relations, it affects every relationship and every organization. Professor John Whitney of the Columbia Business School found, “Mistrust doubles the cost of doing business.” I think it costs even more. Trust is not just a “soft skill,” it is the fundamental key to all lasting success.
Without trust, leaders lose teams and sales people lose sales. We all lose productivity, retention of good people, reputation, morale and revenue. The lower the trust the more time everything takes, the more everything costs, and the lower the loyalty of everyone involved. However, with greater trust come greater innovation, creativity, impact, freedom, morale, and a bigger bottom line.
All of my Graduate research points to the fact that trust is the unique commonality of the most successful leaders and organizations. Obtaining this level of trust isn’t easy. If you are looking for a quick fix, don’t look to trust. While it may appear to be static, in reality it is more like a forest—a long time growing, but easily burned down with a touch of carelessness. Trust is by nature solid and proven. Without trust no lasting, genuine success exists–just a brittle, fluffy, mirage of the real thing. The good news is that we can build this fundamental key to success. It is worth it! And it is the ONLY way to genuine relational or organizational success. The Trust Edge is the competitive advantage gained by being trusted whether as a mom or dad, a community leader or a consultant, or a business owner or government leader. Following is a synopsis of the eight pillars that build the Trust Edge.
1. Consistency: It’s the little things, done consistently, that make the big difference. In every area of life it is the little things. If I am over weight it is because I have eaten too many calories over time, not because I ate too much yesterday. If I am a good husband I am doing the little things that honor my wife on a daily basis. It is the same in business. The little things done consistently make for leaders being followed, increased sales and retention, and a higher level of trust. Consistency is the way brands are built and character is revealed. Even if we don’t like McDonald’s, we trust them because they deliver the same burger in Cleveland as in Tokyo. Do the little things, consistently.
2. Clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust or distrust the ambiguous. Be clear about your mission, purpose, expectations, and daily activities. When people are clear about the mission they do the little things differently. A clear mission unifies and inspires. When a manager is clear in expectations, she will likely get what she wants. When we are clear about priorities on a daily basis we become productive and effective.
3. Compassion: Think beyond yourself. Never underestimate the power of sincerely caring. It is the reason we trust our mothers over some sales people. We are skeptical if the sales person really has our best interest in mind. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not just an old saying, it is a bottom line truth. If followed it builds trust.
4. Character: Do what is right over what is easy. Leaders who built this trust consistently did what needed to be done when it needed to be done whether they felt like doing it or not. It is the work of life to do what is right over what is easy.
5. Contribution: Few things build trust quicker than actual results. Be a contributor who delivers real results!
6. Competency: Staying fresh, relevant and capable builds trust. The humble teachable person keeps learning new and better ways of doing things. They stay current on ideas and trends. According to one study the key competency of new MBA’s is not a specific skill, but rather the ability to learn amidst chaos. Arrogance and a “been-there-done-that” attitude keep people from growing. There is always more to learn, so make a habit of reading, learning, and listening to fresh information.
7. Connection: People want to follow, buy from, and be around friends. People become friends when they build connection. Ask questions. Listen. Life, work, and trust are about relationships. All relationships are best built by establishing genuine connection.
8. Commitment: Stick with it through adversity. Followers trusted General Patton, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Jesus, and George Washington, because they saw commitment. They saw sacrifice for the greater good. Commitment reveals and it builds trust.
Trust does not start with the economy or government. The good news is that YOU can build these pillars and enjoy greater relationships, revenue and results. It starts with individuals becoming trusted. When will we get out of this trust crisis? When we as individuals decide to build the Trust Edge on a daily basis. Keep on being trusted.
Our guest author for this post is David Horsager, MA, CSP, is an award-winning speaker, author, producer, and business strategist who has researched and spoken on the bottom-line impact of trust across four continents. His brand new book titled, The Trust Edge: What Top Leaders Have & 8 Pillars to Build It gives the framework for building trust at work or at home. Get free resources and more at www.DavidHorsager.com and www.TheTrustEdge.com.