Tag Archives: trust

Follow the leader

It takes more than saying the right things to be a transformational leader; you have to do the right things! And that takes work.

Through their work transformational leaders demonstrate Idealized Influence, the first of the 4 I’s that Anita described in her post on Monday.  Just like the lead biker in a team time trial, they don’t just have a powerful message or good ideas. They lead by example. They are the type of leader who isn’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and work along side you.

In fact, through their actions they become such a positive role model that people are inspired to follow. The following actions or behaviors are often listed when people describe a transformational leader. They:

  • Walk the talk
  • Would never ask you to do something they wouldn’t do
  • Stay true to their values without worrying about outside opinions
  • Spread enthusiasm and integrity
  • Provide real-life examples through their actions
  • Take personal risks when it is the right thing to do
  • Inspire through action

Becoming a more transformational leader is a lot of work, but the trust and engagement you build can set the stage for success.

Todd Thorsgaard

 

 

 

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Find the sweet spot!

diagram_sweet-spot_clear-background-3-1024x804Author Dan Pontefract has released a new book that I found energizing and I encourage you to check it out. In The Purpose Effect (2016) he suggests that leaders can help their people recognize the “sweet spot” where the organizational mission overlaps with their role purpose and their own personal vision. You can read a summary of the book here – getAbstract

The sweet spot is the space where people feel engaged in their work, energized by how they can make a contribution and clearly understand the contributions their organization makes to their stakeholders. As leaders we rarely have the opportunity to be involved in the crafting of the organizational mission and vision but we can connect it to the day to day work being done and the unique aspirations of each person on your team.

Pontefract suggests that leaders focus on understanding and facilitating two-way dialogue in these three areas:

  1. Individual and personal goals or purpose and how they relate to the day to day work.
    • what motivates the people on your team?
    • how do they want to develop themselves?
    • what most interests them in their job?
    • how can you and the organization support their success?
  2. The organizational purpose, mission and vision.
    • what are your organization’s values?
    • how does the organization live out it’s purpose?
    • what are examples of the organizational purpose?
  3. Role-based purpose.
    • how do individual roles contribute to the success of the organization?
    • where do individual roles make a difference to stakeholders?
    • how can a leader recognize individual role contributions to the success of the department or organization?

Taking the time to understand each of these three areas is the first step. Then taking the time to consistently help your team members find their own personal sweet spot at work will help you bring your mission and vision to life.

Todd Thorsgaard

Stewardship and communication

dashboardOne of the activities listed under our Minnesota State competency of good stewardship is this:  Communicates decisions regarding resources in an effective manner to stakeholders.

As  I was thinking about the topic, it raised another question for me – it’s important to communicate decisions, but when and how should stakeholders be involved in the decision making process? A little time on Google resulted in the following observations.

According to the University of Minnesota’s site on civic engagement, involving others in decision making can yield benefits. It can result in better decisions by providing access to more information, more perspectives, and greater mutual understanding. In addition, outside viewpoints can point to deeper understanding of problems that may need to be solved in the future.

A national consulting firm pointed out that involving employees in decision making can help them feel part of the team, improve their own day-to-day decision making, and help them feel more accountable for the decision. In addition, employees who are involved in decisions tend to be more focused on the future and less likely to get stuck in negativity and blame.

That sounds good, but when it comes to financial decision making, some managers are reluctant to involve employees. This article from Sage Communications pointed out both sides of the issue. Practicing “open book” management can increase transparency and a sense of community, as well as generating new ideas. On the other hand, some staff members may experience information overload or may need training and background in order to make suggestions that can be implemented in the organization’s context.

Recently we have seen examples of inclusive decision making related to our long-term financial sustainability. Associate Vice Chancellor Phil Davis and Chancellor Rosenstone have both reached out to the Minnesota State community asking for feedback and providing opportunities for us all to have input into the decision making process.

What advice do you have about communicating financial decisions?

Dee Anne Bonebright

 

Grab a shovel?

IMG_3260Leaders have a choice to make. To grab a shovel and dig in or not!

Simon Sinek, author of Leaders Eat Last, challenged us at the 2016 International Association of Talent Development conference to take on the tough work required to be leaders. He reminded us that being a leader is not a title but a result of choosing to dig deeper into the real issues people are facing. Only then will people trust that you are looking out for them and choose to follow. And only when people follow are there leaders.

What makes it even tougher is that trust is a feeling – an emotion – not a behavior or a skill. So we don’t know exactly what will build trust or how long it will take. Still, Sinek defines a leader as a person who is able to create the conditions inside an organization that cause people to trust. And when people trust each other they can do remarkable things.

Taking the actions to build trust requires both faith and risk. The faith to believe that the smIMG_3266all daily actions you take with your people will make a difference to them, even when you can’t see the immediate results. It’s somewhat like the faith I had in my climbing partner this morning when we climbed to the top of the peak you see here. I had never used alpine touring skis to climb up a mountain but I trusted Bob based on the many small actions I have seen him take over the years that demonstrated his authentic concern for my well-being.

Leaders also have to take a risk and grab their shovels to dig into what their people are concerned about, even when they don’t have all the answers or know exactly what they may unearth. Sinek actually stated that he thinks the most important tool leaders need is their shovels, and the willingness to dig up the unknown.

Grab a shovel, trust your people and find out what matters to them and have faith that it will make a difference!

Todd Thorsgaard

P.S. We carried our avalanche shovels and were prepared to use them but I only had to take it out for my blog photo.

 

 

Transparency builds trust

transparency“I find that when you open the door toward openness and transparency, a lot of people will follow you through.” –  Kirsten Gillibrand

Transparency is an essential ingredient to building trust in teams and in entire organizations. According to leadership expert, Stephen M.R. Covey, “transparency is based on the principles of honesty, openness, integrity, and authenticity.” When leaders are transparent and communicate openly, as Kirsten Gillibrand states, people trust them and follow them more readily. When leaders build cultures that have transparent processes and communication, it gives their employees and customers greater confidence in the organization, because they know that nothing is being hidden. Multiple studies demonstrate that greater transparency translates into stronger, more productive organizations.

I’ve been inspired recently by the transparency demonstrated within my own human resources (HR) community in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. We are in the process of moving some transactional processes to a shared-service model. On the surface, it may sound simple. Believe me, it’s not!  The process represents a daunting large-scale change effort to move transactions from 31 individual HR offices across our system to four regional service centers.

The team leading this effort has created an environment of transparency through multiple communications and opportunities for dialogue and participation among human resources professionals and other stakeholders. While the change effort can be scary for some whose offices and jobs will be affected, the transparency demonstrated in the process has created great trust among my HR colleagues. Most believe that the leadership team will make decisions that are thoughtful, humane, and in the best interest of both the colleges and universities and its employees.

As you think about creating transparency, you might want to consider the following questions:

  1. What information should I be sharing with my team and other stakeholders on a regular basis?  Am I withholding information? If so, why?
  2. Ask your team:  how can we make our processes or business practices more transparent to our stakeholders? Then look for ways to increase transparency!

What are some strategies you employ to create transparency?

Anita Rios

 

 

 

 

Should I trust you?

What helps us decide whether we can trust a leader? Research has found two main factors: warmth and strength.  An article in Harvard Business Review explained that these factors answer two critical questions: “What are this person’s intentions toward me?” and “Is he or she capable of acting on those intentions?”

So is it better for leaderock and eggrs to start by creating warm and caring relationships, or to demonstrate competence to deal with challenges?  The article stated that influential leaders start with warmth – creating connections and building trust inspires people to follow enthusiastically rather than feeling coerced. Even small nonverbal gestures such as smiling or nodding can indicate attentiveness to the other person, which in turn inspires trust in your ability to address their concerns.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel followed up on the HBR article by interviewing one of the researchers. Peter Glick explained that trust is a necessary ingredient to build commitment and motivation for an organization’s members to work toward common goals. He observed that without trust, leaders need to focus on control and compliance, which further erodes trust and contributes to a downward spiral of diminishing engagement.

Kimmel published a series of blog posts on “52 Ideas to Build Trust.” Some ideas include:

  • Minimize fear by reinforcing candor
  • Set intentional promises and expectations on what you will deliver
  • Be inclusive in decision-making
  • Encourage risk-taking and celebrate positive failures
  • Be a role model

What actions can you take to build trust with those you work with?

Dee Anne Bonebright

 

 

The impossible dream

lack of trustAgonizing, painful, draining, scary, oppressive, need to document everything, requires excessive preparation, complex, confusing, misleading, insincere, duplicitous and just plain – no fun!  Sound familiar?

Those are the words I hear when I ask leaders, “what is it like to work with someone who doesn’t trust you or someone that you don’t trust?”

Next everyone laments how it feels impossible to restore or to regain trust after it is lost. I have to admit I feel the same way. When something goes wrong it just feels like so much work to rebuild the relationship and I end up focusing on the daunting task ahead, instead of taking action.

As challenging as it is, leaders are responsible for not just building trust but also restoring trust when it is missing. Henna Inam, Executive Coach and contributor to Forbes magazine describes a three step approach for leaders to rebuild trust.

Manage yourself – Often the hardest step but a required one. We must shift from placing blame to taking action. Inman recommends:

  • take personal accountability for restoring the relationship; don’t wait for it to fix itself
  • reframe your view of the other person
  • accept their perspective as legitimate – even if it is different from yours

Initiate a conversation, even knowing it will be uncomfortable – restoring trust will only happen with direct communication. Be sure to:

  • state the reality that there is an issue, in a non-threatening or defensive manner
  • clearly verbalize your interest in rebuilding the relationship and ask for their help
  • acknowledge your role in the broken trust
  • listen with empathy and avoid defending your actions
  • use dialogue to get their ideas and then commitment to action to restore trust
  • agree to give each other feedback on what is working and what isn’t as you take action to restore trust

Follow through with action – restoring trust takes time and requires persistent action.

  • continue to follow through on your commitments, even when the other person isn’t
  • be prepared for skepticism at first
  • look for small victories

Often you will need to go back to step one but with commitment and focus you can take the steps that will improve trust in many situations. Good luck!

Todd Thorsgaard