Simple Truths of Leadership

5 Simple truths of leadership

Simple Truths of Leadership

There are a few key simple Truths of Leadership that are universal to all leaders and serve as a guide to achieving effective leadership. They are simple to embrace but sometimes difficult to practice. Anytime we find we are operating outside of these principles, we need to stop and reevaluate our thoughts and actions.

By following these simple guidelines we will be more effective in our leadership and have greater satisfaction with our results.

1) Make learning our life’s goal. We need to be continuously seeking greater knowledge and understanding. There is more to know than we will ever understand. It is imperative that we take every opportunity to learn more to expand our base of knowledge and understanding to make better decisions.

We have limitless opportunity to learn. We have continually available access to online education, through webinars, YouTube, blogs, LinkedIn, educational institutions, books, and many other resources. There are usually educational and training options available to us through our employers, as well as from professional organizations and informal common purpose meet-ups.

Most importantly we can learn from those around us and our everyday experiences. We are surrounded by people who have differing backgrounds, experiences and wisdom. They are bound to offer a different perspective based on their blend of experience and understanding. We need to be sure to take in everything they have to offer and synthesize our own view of understanding.

We operate in a real-life learning lab. Take full advantage of trying new things in a controlled manner and observe the result. Analyze the current blend of culture and actions and measure the results against our own perspective. Make an adjustment and see what happens. Be sure to observe the change and catalog the results so that we can continue to rise to higher levels of Excellence.

2) Do not act against our principles. We have a solid perspective on right and wrong. Every time we act outside of our core principles, we not only diminish the effectiveness of our leadership, we diminish ourselves as a person. We know when something is right and wrong. We established those core values years ago. When we operate outside of those values, we can never get back the part of us we lose.

Our values keep us centered and in alignment with how we want to be treated and want others to treat us. These values are important to us and serve as guardrails to keep us centered in doing the right thing. It is almost a certainty that when we operate outside our values we are going to hurt someone else and that will cause unrest in our conscience. That unrest will undermine our effectiveness and eventually catch up with us in one form or another as we wrestle with the outcome of our decisions.

3) Always speak truthfully. Our word is our bond of integrity. When we speak untruthfully or even spin something to better fit the desired narrative, we diminish our authority and integrity. Eventually the results of our misspeak will impact our credibility as others come to realize that we cannot be trusted.

Our word must always be as solid as stone. The words we speak as well as communicate through other means are the essence of our leadership. We are in the business of influencing others to engage and follow our lead. Our words are our currency for that exchange. If our words cannot be trusted then we have reduced the value of our currency as well as the value and effectiveness of our leadership.

4) Be thoughtful in our planning. As leaders we set the direction for others to follow. We are going to ask people to commit their most valuable resource, their time to achieving a purpose we put in front of them. We need to carefully consider how we ask them to utilize that valuable commodity and make sure that we do not waste their energy along the journey.

We need to make sure that our planning leads to the destination we truly want to reach. It will be ultimately disappointing and highly ineffective for our leadership to take people in the wrong direction. We need to be sure that when we arrive, we have arrived at a point of value and intention. There could be nothing worse than leading to a dead end or achieving lesser results than promised. We must be sure that we are clear on the destination.

5) Follow through on our commitments. It is extremely hollow for a leader to point to a direction, make commitments to engage action and then not provide the follow through. We will quickly be discovered by our followers as just being a noisy clang if we do not provide the support, resources and personal commitment that we advertise. Our effectiveness as a leader will immediately be diminished as those around us realize that we are not committed and they imitate our example.

Follow through is imperative. It demonstrates that we are committed to making the progress described and can be counted on to help provide the means to get there. Without follow through, the journey will stop as soon as it gets started. There is no substitute for delivering on our commitment.

These are simple but key truths that define us as leaders and directly impact the effectiveness of our leadership. They can boost our results and satisfaction by closely following them. Ignore them at our own peril.

Thanks,

Skip Gilbert

Return on Influence

4 tips for managing our Return on Influence

Return on Influence

Influence 700

“We influence people around us with every interaction” — Skip Gilbert

As a leader our success is measured by our ability to meet our goals and the goals of the business. We either achieve our goals or we don’t. It is a relatively simple exercise to understand our accomplishments and where we stand compared to our expectations. Something that is much more difficult to measure is our effectiveness as a leader. Are we leading by attraction or by command? How many people follow us and do they do so willingly or under duress? Are we producing the maximum results that our teams can deliver or are we holding them back? These are interesting questions and the answers are critical to our continued success.

Ultimately, we lead by influence. As an effective leader we call upon the good sense and imagination of those around us to join in our vision and help move our efforts to a better state of existence. We set a compelling vision, offer practical ways to get started, help our teams see that the future is better than the present and ask them to engage in getting us there. We are rarely able to do this alone or even directly with our own team. We generally need the support of others around us to participate in the effort. Since we cannot do it by ourselves and we need the assistance of others to accomplish it we do it by influence.

There is a term increasingly being recognized in digital marketing called Return on Influence. This term is being constructed to indicate the indirect benefit of exposure in other venues, such as social media to increase traffic on the originator’s site. The idea being that the more others hear positive commentary about a product or service, the more likely they are to seek out the product or service. It is a term of indirect influence rather than a measure of direct advertising.

The concept of Return on Influence is an interesting way of considering our effectiveness as a leader. Since a great deal of our ability to achieve goals is dependent on influencing others to commit their time and energy to our cause, how our influence impacts the results is worth managing. We need the people around us to think positively of our leadership and openly support our efforts to move forward. We need our influence to carry the positive message even when we are not present in the conversation.

We influence people around us with every interaction. Our greeting in the hallway, the expression on our faces when deep in thought, the tone and substance of our email, the words we say, the way we react to things others say, these are all points of influence. As leaders, people are watching us at every moment. They are trying to understand who we are, if we are sincere, and most importantly are we trustworthy. They want to know that their leader is intelligent and well informed as well as human. They are constantly trying to get the measure of us as a person as well as decide if it is safe to follow our lead. This scrutiny just comes with the job. It is part of the pleasure and burden of leading people, especially highly talented people.

The great news is that since we know that we are being observed and our thoughts and actions are influencing their thoughts and behaviors, we can make sure that we are doing the things that help further our ability to lead and achieve our goals. We need to consider our every action and comment through the the eyes of those who are evaluating us as leaders. Even the little things matter.

We have a large influence when we speak in meetings and through our written correspondence. We need to take the time to make sure that the tone we are delivering is the tone we want people to hear. We need to make sure we are prepared and engaged when we participate in these meetings. The behavior we display will quickly be imitated by those around us and will become the norm. We need to make sure that the norm we set is the behavior we want to see.

Interestingly, the informal times we engage with our teams and individual resources may play an even larger part in the effectiveness of our influence. We need to make sure we are pleasant and courteous to those we meet. We need to be engaging and acknowledge other people as we pass. We need to be able to engage in personal conversation, even when we are busy or distracted. We need to be encouraging and recognize the contributions of others, even in the small things. Remember, our ability to achieve great things depends on others to willingly follow us. If they cannot relate to us, they will not give us their very best.

We get our return on this investment as people embrace our vision and invest their own passion and energy into achieving or exceeding our goals. This is where all of the time and effort we spent engaging with others and making sure we set the best example possible has the payoff. This is where the example of Excellence we display comes back multiplied by those around us. This is how we succeed. This is our Return on Influence.

Here are 4 tips for managing our Return on Influence:

Be Transparent

4 Tips for being more transparent

Be Transparent

Workplace 700

“Keeping the destination a secret only makes the journey more challenging” — Skip Gilbert

To be an effective leader we must be transparent in our actions and communications. If we can trust ourselves and be trusted by others, being transparent is a powerful thing. If we are not confident in our leadership skills or do not believe in our people, then this will be a difficult thing for us to do.

To be transparent as a leader has many different meanings, but put simply transparency is consistently behaving in a way that is predictable and authentic. This means no surprises. Transparency is making things clear. Being transparent does not mean being an open book
or telling everything we know. There are some things such as trade secrets, financial disclosures, negotiations and other common sense things that must remain confidential.

We need to disclose all that we can, especially if it impacts our resources or changes our direction. People want to know that their leaders have a direction, have experience with current challenges and have a solution or can describe the path to find one.

Our employees will quickly detect if we are not being fully forthcoming with them. They will conclude that there must be something bad we are hiding from them if we are not openly sharing. This will cause them to lose confidence in the direction and start to distrust the communications they are receiving from their leaders.

We need to share our vision and be prepared to sell the benefits of the future state with our teams. They need to understand where we are going. After all, they are the ones that are going to take us there. Keeping the destination a secret only makes the journey more challenging for others to know if they are doing the right thing.

Trust and transparency go hand-in-hand. Employees seek to sort out what is real and true. They expect their leaders to be forthcoming in sharing where the company is headed and honest about its future. They want transparency so they can understand where they fit in the picture. They first of all want to know how they are personally impacted and then ensure that the changes match with their values.

Transparency is a necessary condition for building trust. When we are not transparent people will fill the gap with their worst fears. In an information vacuum, people assume that it must be bad for them or they would be included in the conversation.

The digital age has changed the levels of transparency that people expect. Consistent transparency is the easiest way to build trust however it does not happen quickly. Email, videos, text messages and other social media can spread perceptions faster than we can redirect them. The only way to stay ahead of that rumor mill is to always be open and consistent in our message and keep the skeptics from dominating the conversation.

The reason some leaders are not transparent is because they believe they will be viewed as less authoritative; they will lose their power, leverage and perceived authority. It is challenging to be a leader and there are times when we may not have all of the information to make a perfect decision. Some managers fear that not being perfect will expose their weaknesses and they hide behind an information vacuum to make sure they are not exposed. None of us are perfect and always right. That is not a realistic expectation and when we are open and transparent, people can see our authenticity. That authenticity actually builds our credibility and makes us a more trustworthy leader in the eyes of those around us.

Employees will enthusiastically follow a leader who demonstrates a true desire to see people succeed. Employees need leaders who want the best for their team members and will do what they can to help employees achieve their goals. We need to show that we are invested in their success and that we are part of the team, not just the people in charge of it.

Effective leaders are confident in themselves, and they project that attitude to those around them. We need to respect the views of others and treat everyone fairly, never speaking negatively about anyone or discouraging them from trying new things.

Most employees want to do their best. They want to believe in their managers and they want their managers to believe in them. A mature leader conveys that we have a stake in individual and team success. Effective leaders continually have their teams’ perspective in mind. We need to create an air of authenticity around ourselves. We project an image of confidence and success that becomes contagious such that our team will willingly go in the direction we set.

It can be hard to measure if we truly are a transparent leader. Here are some questions to help us assess if we are being transparent:

  • Do we genuinely express our thoughts and opinions?
  • Does our message remain the same, regardless of the audience?
  • When we can’t divulge information, do we help people understand why?
  • Do we keep our commitments?
  • Do we admit our own mistakes without blaming others?
  • Do we ask questions, listen to the answers and new ideas?
  • Do we value the feedback of others?
  • Are we candid, open and honest?

The following are 4 tips for ensuring that we are transparent in our leadership:

Positive Leadership

4 Tips for maintaining positive leadership

Positive Leadership

Positive Leadership 700

“In every problem there is the opportunity to make something better” — Skip Gilbert

One of the greatest assets a leader can have is the ability to see the positive and move people in that direction. When we have a compelling and viable vision, we need to engage people to embrace the end-state and put their energy into moving in that direction. In that journey, we will always encounter troubles, issues and challenges, it is just part of moving forward and creating change. As a leader we need our resources not to see the challenges as roadblocks, but to see them as expected encounters and an indication that we are making progress. We need our resources to enthusiastically see this as an opportunity to make something better. We need them to continue to see the positive.

Let’s not confuse seeing the positive with being naive. We will encounter real challenges and not all change will be received with universal enthusiasm. As we move to our vision of a greater state, the change may cause a realignment or adjustment to processes or ways of thinking that others find difficult to embrace. Again that is expected and there are change management techniques and strategies to help us make the transition. The key is to help people through the transition by staying positive and help them to not expend energy in maintaining the status quo. Positive energy helps us move forward while negative energy diminishes our willingness to make the change.

It is currently popular and increasingly common for a negative outlook to be viewed as having clear, critical perspective and wisdom while people with a positive outlook are considered naive or unenlightened. While we may all believe that there is a better future available to us, many leaders are only able to provide a view of what is wrong. These leaders have perfected the ability to project dissatisfaction with the status quo, but not to provide a compelling vision or practical first steps of action to get to a better place. In fact, there is much more to being a leader than just our placement in a hierarchical organizational structure. Real leadership knows that we need a clear vision and people so highly motivated in reaching that goal that the roadblocks are merely obstacles we either teardown or go around.

There may be many reasons for this seemingly prevailing attitude of negative thinking in leadership. Sometimes there is a misconception that projecting dissatisfaction with the current state alone creates change. They confuse negative thinking with critical thinking and the need to provide a view of a better future. Negative thinking just communicates that the present state has real problems. Critical thinking recognizes that there are real problems, identifies the root causes and provides clear direction for a better future. Just creating dissatisfaction with the current state, while a necessary condition for change, does not in itself produce change.

Immature leaders who have not yet fully embraced the necessary conditions for success may be imitating others they have viewed as successful or may be only interested in building their own resumes by spending a few years in a position before leveraging that title for another opportunity. Being negative provides the illusion that they can lead to a better state by joining the choir of criticizing the current state. For other leaders not really ready to lead, being negative may provide a defense mechanism. By being negative they are never surprised when disappointed, it is what they were expecting. Of course, negativity brings on more negativity which kills enthusiasm and becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. They end up with an organization that is highly dissatisfied with no real release for their energy since nothing they do is good enough to be be recognized as having value.

Leaders with a negative perspective may tell you that they understand the problem, but oftentimes they are the problem! They either do not understand the full equation for creating change and making progress or they may not truly understand the impact of their actions and communications.

People are attracted to leaders who bring a vision and message of hope. They are more likely to commit more of themselves to the cause than those who lack hope. Reaching a future state that includes them, meeting their needs and those of the business will attract the energy of everyone involved. We can all see the problems, but a true leader is one that can point the direction to a better place.

True leaders bring a sense of possibility that helps to cause others to believe. When we express our optimism for the future and can articulate the benefits and provide a way to get started to get there, others will naturally follow. They will commit more of their personal energy and passion to the cause. Basically, positive energy is a stronger motivator than negativity.

To be the most effective leader we can be we need to focus our energy and thinking on being a person with a positive perspective. We need to help others understand the direction we are headed and understand what is in it for them. We need to offer a message of hope and confidence and encourage others to embrace the change and contribute their best thinking and actions to get there. We need to reward the positive steps and recognize those who are moving forward with the change. After all, the only people who get things done are the people who believe something can be done.

Here are 4 tips for maintaining positive leadership:

Life Outside the Comfort Zone

7 Principles for Personal Excellence

Life Outside the Comfort Zone

Learning Edge 700

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” — Neale Donald Walsch

The following is an excerpt from my book: EXCELLENCE: You CAN Get There From Here!

It is important that we continually stretch ourselves to try new things and reach higher levels of performance. In order to try new things, we have to move outside the comfort of our routine to have new experiences and with that comes the anxiety of the unknown.

Simply put our Comfort Zone is a place where our activities and behaviors fit a pattern that minimizes risk and stress. It provides a mental illusion of a state of security characterized by regular happiness, low stress and low anxiety. It feels comfortable and routine. It is everyday activities that we are used to that keep us from feeling anxious, uneasy, and unsafe.

In order to push ourselves to learn and achieve more, we need to move from the routine, safe Comfort Zone to a place that fosters improved learning and engagement, which is an area just outside our Comfort Zone. This area is sometimes referred to as the Learning Zone. As our anxiety level increases we move from the Comfort Zone into the Learning Zone and finally the Panic Zone. The idea is to find the proper balance that helps us increase our performance without moving into panic driven anxiety.

While anxiety is not something we typically go looking for, studies have indicated that a small amount of extra anxiety move us into an area of increased learning and performance. When we mix feelings of success with a limited amount of anxiety we find that we are more engaged, creative, energized and ultimately satisfied than living in our Comfort Zone.

In the Learning Zone we will find that we will have an easier time dealing with new and unexpected change. One of the worst things we can do is pretend that fear and uncertainty do not exist. By taking risks in a controlled manner and pushing ourselves to do things beyond what we would normally do we become accustomed to living with uncertainty and change in a controlled environment and realize our greater potential.

We will find it easier to brainstorm and channel our creativity. While not a fully quantifiable benefit, it is commonly agreed that seeking new experiences, learning new and improving existing skills and opening our thinking to new ideas can inspire us in ways that few other things can. Learning new things and comparing that knowledge with our previous experience can lead us to explore and seek out even more ideas. As we see old problems with a new perspective we find new solutions and we find that it brings greater energy to our curiosity.

Stepping out of our comfort zone into the Learning Zone enhances our ability to grow. Our Comfort Zone is really not about comfort but about avoiding risk and anxiety. We have overcome our fear of risk by redefining our measure of success such that as long as we learn we are successful. Living in our Learning Zone is a no-risk proposition for us and is a key part of our foundation for supporting our journey to excellence.

Learn more about the 7 Principles for Personal Excellence in my book EXCELLENCE: You CAN Get There From Here! available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle.

Thank you for taking time to join our community. I look forward to exchanging comments with you on this topic.

Thanks,

Skip Gilbert

Play From the Same Sheet of Music

4 Tips to ensure alignment

Play From the Same Sheet of Music

Conductor 700


Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment. — Jim Collins

Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone seemed to be headed in a different direction on the same topic? Ever been in a situation where nobody seems to agree on what we are supposed to be doing or what we are trying to accomplish? I think we have all been there and it is not only unproductive, but demoralizing. When we experience this, we know we are a long way away from being a high performance organization.

When everyone has a different interpretation of what is being asked or does not really understand the vision, we do not have alignment on what we are trying to do or where we are going. Without clear communication and leadership we are all left to wander around the topic trying to persuade others to join our solution when in fact we are not even all working on the same problem. Just having a vision is often not enough, we need to have alignment around the vision to come to a common understanding.

So what is alignment and how do we describe it? According to Wikipedia, “Strategic alignment is the process and the result of linking an organization’s structure and resources with its strategy and business environment (regulatory, physical, etc.) Strategic alignment enables higher performance by optimizing the contributions of people, processes, and inputs to the realization of measurable objectives and, thus, minimizing waste and misdirection of effort and resources to unintended or unspecified purposes”.

There is a lot of substance to this definition and more than we can cover in a single article. For the purpose of this discussion let’s focus on the second part “…higher performance by optimizing the contributions of people, processes,…” When we take the time to ensure we have alignment around where we are going or what we are trying to accomplish (our vision), we enable resources to focus their energy on developing a solution rather than debating the objective. It creates a better efficiency in our use of resources and ultimately allows them to produce a better result in less time.

Though sometimes overused, the metaphor of the relationship of the orchestra conductor and the musical score to the musicians is a great example of alignment. Imagine a conductor in front of a sellout crowd at the music hall stepping up to the podium and expecting the orchestra to play a complicated piece of music without anyone actually having a sheet of music. While the highly talented and experienced musicians probably have familiarity with the music in concept, there is no way for them to join together or even know where they are at any point in the performance. The conductor may think he is leading the orchestra, but in fact all he is doing is waving his arms. Without the sheet music, there is no way for the orchestra to be in alignment even though they are assembled in front of a leader.

Much like the conductor, we need to make sure that everyone has the sheet of music (alignment) to create a solution. In addition we need to be sure that everyone is at the same place in the music with a full understanding of where we are headed and what we are trying to accomplish. By taking time to make sure we have alignment, we are ensuring that we are producing an environment that will allow our resources to work more efficiently and produce better results.

Here are 4 tips for ensuring we have alignment:

Keep Moving Forward

4 Tips to keep moving forward

Keep Moving Forward

Move Forward Hiking 700

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney

Are there times when you just feel overwhelmed? How about those days when nothing seems to be going right, have any of those? Have you or someone you known faced a significant heath or financial crisis? Most of us have at one point or another and we are likely to face more in the future. Sometimes life throws some big challenges our way. What can we do?

We will all most likely face stressful times and hard decisions in our lifetime. These events will happen, usually not by our own making, and most often without warning. As these things occur we have two choices. We can either face the challenge and find ways to keep moving forward or we can surrender. We can either assess the situation and find a way to get to the next day, or not. Clearly the or not option is not a viable solution, so it really leaves us with the move forward option.

People who have faced difficult challenges tell us that the only really solution is to find the strength to move forward. Today may appear bleak and perhaps even hopeless, but if we can find the will to make it to tomorrow we will find that we are one day closer to our solution. When we are able to focus on getting to tomorrow we are in the process of moving forward.

There are many people facing difficult circumstances everyday and if we are one of them then we know the challenge of moving forward. Fortunately, for most of us we are not facing dire circumstances and we should be grateful for that blessing. Nonetheless, most of us feel the stress of things not going our way and have the same feelings as those in dire circumstances though perhaps to a lesser extent.

When we face difficult circumstances either personally or professionally, the best thing we can do is “put one foot in front of the other” and keep moving forward. There is no future in looking back, after all the future is in front of us. Looking back allows our emotions to relive the event and does nothing to help us get to the next opportunity.

Most of the things we fear never happen to us, they are just projections of our imagination. Sometimes we tend to view our current circumstances through a negative lens and only see more negativity in front of us. The reality is that most of the things we fear will not actually happen to us. Our fear is mostly driven by projecting ourselves into other people’s difficult situations. Our empathy for them can make us feel as though we are there and allow us to relive an event that we have never truly experienced.

Our worry is just wasted energy. Worrying about things that most likely will never happen engages us to focus on things that fortunately we will never experience. When bad things do happen, they usually happen in unexpected ways. And here is the thing, we are so resilient that when something bad happens, we almost always find a way to rise above the issue. We would not have gotten this far if our first action was to surrender.

When things are not going our way, the best thing we can do is to keep moving forward. Find a way to get to the next day and things will be better. Hang in there and give ourselves a chance to find a solution. Tomorrow will open a new door and we need to see where it leads.

Here are 4 tips for helping us continue to keep us moving forward:

Trust is Essential for Success

4 Tips for establishing and maintaining trust

Trust is Essential for Success

Trust Hands 700

Do we trust those around us? Do those around us trust us? How does trust impact the performance of our teams? How does trust impact our success? These are great questions and the answers have a great impact on how we are perceived and our success. Trust is the fundamental currency of leadership.

Trust is the foundation of high performance. Before others are willing to go the extra distance to help us achieve our goals, they must be able to trust that our interest aligns with their interest. If we are not trustworthy or those around us are not trustworthy then the basic foundation of high performance is broken. There must be a firm belief in place that what is good for us is good for me. Without that firm belief there will always be doubt and reservation around the risks we are taking and the result it may produce. Where there is doubt or insecurity at the personal level, people will not give their best. In order for people to put it all on the line for a result they must trust that the result will be in their best interest.

So what is trust? Dictionary.com defines trust as “Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Essentially, trust is believing in something or someone to such an extent that they can be taken at their word. If they say it or convey it, then it can be believed. The “it” can be a vision, request or most any action, but the key is that people are willing to follow because they have faith in the reliability and credibility of the person making the request. We are more likely to follow a leader because they are trustworthy. We are more likely to achieve what they ask because they have earned our trust.

The benefits of trust are quantifiable and are significant. Organizations that are led by leaders that can be trusted significantly out-achieve those where their leaders are not trusted. Research conducted by The Forum cites 10 years of findings that high trust organizations have some major advantages:

  • 16% greater profit margin
  • 19% greater operating margin
  • 18% greater productivity
  • 2.6 times the earning-per-share growth of less-trusting companies

These are significant findings. These are core business metrics that all businesses are striving to achieve. As we can see trust in leadership has a direct correlation to superior business performance. Building and maintaining trust in an organization should be one of the core goals and key metrics to measure the success of the leadership of any organization or business. It has a direct link to business performance and the bottom line.

So how do we build and maintain trust? It starts with keeping our word. People need to believe that we will keep our word and deliver on our promises before they will fully trust us. When we make a commitment, we must keep it without excuses or failure. Even the way we make the promise is important. It must be clear and solid. It cannot be built on vague words that sound good on the surface but can be bent to have different meanings. Our statements must be clear and precise. If people are to have trust in us, they must have faith that we mean what we say and that if we say it we will do it.

We must always tell the truth and be transparent. Misleading in any way or not telling the whole truth or misleading by not including key facts will diminish trust. Our word becomes our currency and if our word is not rock solid, it will not have value. We have to be careful not to make promises that we cannot keep. In the event we find that we cannot fully deliver on a promise, we must come forward with full transparency and help others see that the results were from circumstances beyond our control. To say one thing and do another will severely diminish our credibility and trust will go out the window.

Employee trust is strongly connected to the organization’s transparency. Studies have shown that as organizations become more transparent they will become more trusted and therefore produce better results. Being transparent means doing a good job of sharing information with our teams and not hiding problems. Often we can produce better results by openly explaining the problem and including our teams in the problem solving. This serves not only to build trust, but leverages ideas and involvement which will yield better results with deeper ownership of the solution. By being transparent and open about the issues and solutions and in effect “showing our work”, we build trust and credibility with those around us.

The net result is that building trust through being open, honest and consistent allows others to invest in our ideas and actions and yields better results. Leadership is most effective when everyone is pulling together toward a goal without fear or reservation. As leaders, trust is perhaps our most valuable asset in creating commitment and producing results. Trust builds relationships and unlocks the future. It is one of our biggest levers; it should be one of our biggest concerns.

Here are 4 tips for establishing and maintaining trust:

Trust Our Intuition

4 Tips on trusting our intuition

Trust Our Intuition

Decision 700

Have you ever been faced with making a quick decision without all of the facts? Have you ever had a feeling that one path was better than another? Or have you ever gathered a lot of information but it is still not clear what to do, yet you have to make a decision anyway? I know I face that situation on a regular basis, either there is not enough time or information and a decision needs to be made now. In times like that we have no choice but to follow our intuition.

So what is our intuition and how is it different than instinct? Intuition is a process of using our knowledge and experience to know or decide something without analytic reasoning. On the other hand, our instinct is a feeling or hunch in reaction to a specific event or situation.

Both are valuable and helpful when used appropriately. Our instincts are probably more deeply rooted in our DNA and past experiences. The word instinct comes form the word “instinctus” or “impulse” meaning the body’s biological tendency to make one choice over another. They are things like the gut feeling we get when we see an event or react to a threat. It doesn’t require thought, it is a reaction to a stimulus. Our instinct will be to duck if something is thrown at us. It is the way we want to react when insulted, it is our first reaction when something quickly changes in our immediate surroundings.

Intuition on the other hand is our thoughtful immediate decision making process without utilizing a process of fully balancing the pros and cons. It is our first response when confronting the need for an immediate decision. The word intuition comes from the word “intuition” or “consideration” formed by beliefs, experiences and memories. It leverages our past experience and the result of similar situations in the past to project a preferred action in this situation. In the situation requiring an immediate decision our mind races through all of our previous experiences and gives us an instant decision. It allows us to make the best decision we can with the limited information we have at the moment.

Everyday we are confronted with the need to make decisions with imperfect knowledge or information. Whether it is a key business decision or deciding what to have for dinner or even which way to turn to avoid this traffic situation, we have to make decisions quickly. Many times we do not have the opportunity to run a full analysis on the situation and chart out all of the risks and benefits. There is simply not enough time to fully analyze each decision against the multiple outcomes.

At some point we have to make a decision. We cannot wait at a stoplight and run a full spreadsheet analysis of the impact of our decision to turn right. We just have to make the decision and see what happens next. The inability to make a decision without intense scrutiny and analysis leads to “analysis paralysis”; the inability to make quick decisions.

Fortunately we have a built-in decision making tool called intuition. Our intuition gives us the ability to make a pretty good decision based on what we have experienced before. The decision will not always be perfect, but it will be right most of the time. It will allow us to move forward and see what happens next. It will be right a high percentage of the time and we should feel confident that without the opportunity to gain more information, the decision we make now will be the best decision we could make at the time.

We can improve the quality of our intuitive decision making by continuing to improve our knowledge and experience through our growth as we pursue excellence. As I pointed out in my book “EXCELLENCE: You CAN Get There From Here”, by planing our growth we build on our skills and talents providing a basis for even better decision making in the future.

Since intuition is based on combining our past experience and knowledge to allow a decision at the moment, it is not likely that the decision will yield a great new approach to the problem. That is not to say that our intuition doesn’t play a role in breakthrough thinking, in fact it is quite the opposite. Most breakthroughs require an injection of intuition to push us past the apparent facts. The very nature of the analytical process is that every answer yields two new questions. At some point an intuitive decision is required to decide which branch of research should be followed.

The net takeaway is that our intuition gives us the ability to make pretty good decisions with the information at hand at the time. We can have confidence that when forced to make a decision with incomplete information we can rely on our intuition to fill in the missing data and yield the best decision we could make at the time, and that decision is better than no decision at all.

Here are 4 tips on how we can use our intuition to help us everyday:

EXCELLENCE: You CAN Get There From Here!

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EXCELLENCE: You CAN Get There From Here!

A practical journey to personal success.

For many years I have been searching for examples of excellence and the things that lead to excellent results. Through my search I have found that excellence is not something that can be acquired through training, but it is an attitude or way of thinking.

Overall excellence is a journey from where we are to the best we can be in every aspect of our life.

After years of study I have found that the difference between success and mediocrity is not defined by a big advantage in talent or opportunity, but stems from a relentless pursuit of better.

The pursuit of excellence is the root of that difference and it is available to all of us. The difference comes down to perspective, planning and persistence.

This book provides a perspective and practical framework to enjoy the benefits of the pursuit of excellence including:

  • Overview of the benefits of pursuing excellence
  • The Excellence for Life and The Excellence Project Lifecycle program
  • 7 Principles for Personal Excellence

We are each running our own race. Let EXCELLENCE: You CAN Get There From Here guide you on your journey to personal success.

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