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Trust – The Three Crucial Components

Posted in Blog, All Posts

I was recently working with a group of first line leaders that represented several departments in an organization. We were discussing the importance of trust and how to create an environment of trust.  As often is the case, I heard from the group, “My boss needs to hear this stuff. He doesn’t do any of this”.  I’ve been at this long enough to know that some truth and a lot of perception is involved in those statements. When I challenged the group to have a conversation with their boss about their perceptions of the environment, I got the usual - an emphatic, “No way!” We know trust is the foundation to good leadership and a strong organization. Yet we often pay little attention to ensuring that trust actually exists, let alone nurturing it. Trust isn’t a competency or skill – it is (for lack of a better term) a “living thing”. By “living thing”, I mean it can grow; it can be injured; it can be withheld or freely given; and, it can cease to exist. I believe that trust is created and built upon three primary components – Intentions, Words, and Relationships. So, with that in mind, I want to share (one more time) – How to build an environment of trust. Intentions We all have met people that we were skeptical of their intentions. Often we can relate it to past experiences, reputation or our “gut feeling”.  Often the skepticism is just part of the tension that exists between leaders and followers (as well as leaders who lead other leaders).  Unfortunately, the world we live into day reflects a “always question the intention” attitude. Those you lead need to believe and see that your intentions are good. How do you do that?

  • Practice open, back and forth dialogue. Tell those that you lead what you’re thinking and ask them what they are thinking. People should not have to guess your intentions. State your intentions.  When we poorly communicate, people will fill the void with their own stories and perceived intentions. And those stories that people create are seldom good ones.
  • Be honest with yourself. Often we hide behind the excuse we’re protecting the people, the company, or the future.  If your intentions are being questioned, ask yourself these questions:
    1. What do I want for myself?
    2. What do I want for others?
    3. What do I want for the organization?

Hopefully, your answers are well-intended. Your next step would be to ensure that your actions align with your intentions.

Words
The most powerful tool we have are our words. There is a song that says: “Words can build us up or put us down. Words can give us life or kill our dreams”. All too often we are careless and not very thoughtful with our words.  As leaders we do not get a pass for poorly chosen words - we are responsible and accountable.

  • Hone your message to be succinct and clear. Limit yourself on the number of words that you use. Less is really more. Practice it. Ask someone to listen to your message and then tell you what they heard. If they don’t nail the message, keep honing it.
  • Use words that connect to your employees – example: “Your input and ideas are critical to our success.”
  • Drop the excessive expletives and descriptors.  Drop the “always”, “you should have”, “what were you thinking”, “if you’re not on board”, “this is my department – ship - project”.   People stop listening and begin to judge and create their own story.
  • If you put too much negative emotion and body language into your words, people hear and react to the perceived negativity. Your message is lost.
  • Want to know how your words are “landing” with your employees?
    • Watch their body language – especially their eyes.
    • Are they asking appropriate questions or sitting silently?
    • Ask them how you could improve with your choice of words – make sure you really want to hear.

Relationships
In my earlier years, I had a boss that could not seem to remember my name correctly– even after a year. This same boss would make statements like: “I’m not here to be your best friend.”  Believe me, I didn’t want this boss as a best friend – I just wanted to be called by name! How would you define your relationship with your employees?  How would they define the relationship?  Good, bad, or indifferent, a relationship exists with all our employees. Studies continue to show that people want to know that their boss cares about them as an individual.  That level of care is defined differently for each person. The stronger the relationship between leaders and their employees the more engagement there is for everyone.

  • Relationships matter – make them a priority. Have one-on-ones with your folks at regular intervals – performance review time doesn’t count. Customize those times to the need of that employee.
  • Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have time – even a 5 minute conversation will improve the relationship and engagement.
  • Don’t play favorites – it gets noticed.
  • Ask for ongoing feedback – for you, for the organization, for the team.

Trust can be achieved and maintained when people believe that your intentions are good, that your words support those intentions, and that you choose to have a caring relationship.

There is an additional benefit to nurturing and growing trust. The day will come when trusting you to lead through a tough time is paramount to the success of a project and/or the organization.  Your employees will “have your back”. How do I know? They trust you!

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What Does Father’s Day have to do With Effective Leadership?

Written by Michelle Braden, CEO Posted in Blog, All Posts

3 questions to ask yourself

As I think through what to do in order to honor and celebrate my dad for Father’s Day, I find myself reflecting on how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful dad.  He has always been a quiet pillar of strength for our family.  To me he represents:  stability, security, respect to others and self, consistency, non-judgment, encouragement, inspiration, careful listening and loyalty.

In addition to all of these positive strengths, he still holds the ability to call for correction when it is needed and his family, as well as those who work for him, respond positively.  How does this happen?  It happens through the first attributes listed but also because he has built relationships and has earned respect with those around him.  We are open and receptive to correction when we know the person bringing correction in our corner has our back and wants the best for us.

When I think about my dad, I can’t help but draw parallels between what it takes to be an effective father and what it tasks to be an impactful leader.  Whether you are male or female, young or old, to lead effectively you need to embrace the same characteristics it takes to be a great father.  When you reflect upon your leadership, do you demonstrate the attributes describe above:  stability, security, respecting others and self, consistency, non-judgment, encouragement, inspiration, listening and loyalty?  As you reflect on these characteristics, here are three questions to ask yourself:

  1. If I were to walk around my office and ask my direct reports, peers, boss or vendors to describe me, what would they say?
  2. Would I be pleased with the description they give?
  3. Do I work diligently to build relationships that are strong and withstand storms, change, challenges and a call for correction when needed?

If you are not pleased with any of the answers to the above three questions, what will you do differently?

This is a meaningful blog to me for two reasons.  First, it honors a very important man in my life, my father.  Secondly, it also stirs me to action… to strive for a higher level and to be a better leader.  It creates a desire in me to follow in the footsteps of my father’s example.  I hope my very nature (Def:  The basic or inherent features of something, especially when seen as characteristic of it) can be a reflection of my dad’s example of leadership.  Although I have not chosen the same career path as my father, I can choose the same leadership path.

How about you?  How do you define leadership?  Do you have someone in your life that inspires you to be better as a leader?  If so, I hope you will share your story with us.  Also, if you are interested in working with a coach to become a more effective leader, I hope you will contact us today at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads our there!  Continue to lead well and inspire!!

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A great employee is a like a great pair of shoes... Invest in Quality!

Written by Stasia Rice Posted in Blog, All Posts

Have you ever bought a pair of cheap shoes in a pinch?  Maybe you needed a quick replacement, or felt the budget didn’t bear anything more expensive?  More often than not, when you compromise on quality, the shoes don’t fit quite right, they to show wear quickly or maybe even fell apart well before you'd like.  In the end… you have to buy another pair.  Making this mistake often will add up quickly.  Consider how many $20 pairs of shoes you have replaced.  They probably add up to what it would have cost for a quality pair of shoes that you would love, feel confident and comfortable in and are made to last. We can draw a parallel from this metaphor to hiring and retaining employees… We should all learn from lessons in buying good shoes:

  1.  No matter what the price, find the right fit.  A bad hire will just end up giving you “blisters”… not to mention the time, money and effort of having to rehire and train the next person. Avoid quick replacements and be sure they fit your culture and the position qualifications!
  2. Be willing to invest.  This might come in the form of someone with more experience, or even better, someone with the potential to learn and grow with training, development and time.  Like your shoes, a larger upfront cost pays off in spades when your employee sticks with you and lives into the potential you saw.
  3. Repair – Don’t Replace.  If an employee that fits well and has all the potential to do great things just isn’t as shiny anymore, or worse, the sole has worn and they are not performing as well anymore, don’t just toss them out!  Now is the time to invest in them through coaching or more formal development. Your initial investment in quality must be maintained! Polish up those shoes and resole them again and again!  The cost of ongoing investment is far less than buying new!
  4. Don’t take your dress shoes hiking.  You wouldn’t try to make your shoes perform in an environment or for a task not suited to their purpose.  Why do we do this to our employees?  Get to know them and their strengths to ensure that they can perform at their best.
  5. Try them with a new outfit.  Sometime the effect of putting the same shoe with a completely different outfit can help you get even more wear out of them!Think about the last time you put those dress shoes with jeans-it can makes for a fun change and you got more wear out of those shoes! The same goes for your high potential employees.  Giving them new opportunities, experiences outside of their area of expertise, or promotions when they are ready for more leadership and responsibility can help them to find longevity and happiness in your organization!

The lesson that you eventually learn is that the return on investment when it comes to quality is almost always worth it… in shoes and in people! MSBCoach is in the business of investing in quality people.  Let us help you polish up or resole your teams through coaching or our training programs.  We also have many effective assessments that can help uncover their strengths and preferences so you can help them succeed!

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Meeting Meltdowns: Why did I say that?!!!

Written by Barbara Higgins Posted in Blog, All Posts

4 Things to think about when you find your foot in your mouth

Did I really say that??!!!  Have you ever left an important meeting with a knot in the pit of your stomach not knowing exactly what you said but knowing that it was completely the wrong thing?  Wondering if there is damage to your relationships with key colleagues because emotions took control of your voice?

Fear not!  There are ways to better understand this emotional reaction and tools to help you use this energy for powerful and more effective messages.

First, let’s understand what is happening in your reaction.  If you have worked with personality typing such as Emergenetics or Myers Briggs (and I heartily recommend considering these tools if you haven’t), you understand our differences in how we process situations, information, and reactions to other people.  Certain ways of viewing the world are naturally more comfortable for you. So what happens to your style when stress or pressure pushes you to operate in a way that is completely outside of your usual style and comfort…and may lead you to post-meeting questions of “what was I thinking when I said THAT?”

I reference a great piece of research called In the Grip; Understanding Type, Stress, and the Inferior Function, by Naomi L. Quenk.   The premise is that when our usual dominant styles are confronted with fatigue and stress, we have an inferior reaction type, the opposite of our standard Myers Briggs type, which takes over our reactions in the frustration of the moment.

So what does this mean in real life situations?  Consider a situation when you are tired and at the end of your patience.  The reasonable “you” is now agitated, angry, and acting out of character. Backed into a corner, the opposite of your standard personality erupts in a way that is confusing to you and to others in the discussion. You can come away from a meeting wondering “who was that person?”

So how can you manage the energy of stress and ensure that you project your best self in discussions that matter? The trick is to reconnect to your comfort and style strengths by recognizing the situations that cause this level of stress and fatigue.  I recommend four basic ways to reconnect to your true type.

  1. Take a time out – Even a short trip out of the meeting room for a common excuse can give you the time to take a few deep breaths.  Although adrenalin is needed if we are in peril, it can be your enemy in a meeting full of emotional turmoil.
  2. Find the patience to listen– In a stressful meeting, messages are flying in all directions and no one is really listening.  The respect of truly listening to an alternate viewpoint can change the tempo of the whole meeting.  Try repeating the message of the “other side” and you may find that you are not as far apart as you thought.  Once you listen to their input, they may react much better to your perspective rather than your emotion.
  3. Forgive yourself and follow up - If you really “lost it” and your comments create a conflict, take accountability for a bad meeting.  Most people have experienced something similar and will react well to a sincere apology about getting caught up in the emotion of the moment.  Use this as a lesson to understand what triggers you in these situations and to manage your future reactions.  This is an opportunity for a valuable leadership lesson.
  4. Refresh your personality testing knowledge - Revisit and explore personality typing.  Myers Briggs and Emergenetics help to explain how others may view situations differently and can help immeasurably in shaping your leadership messages.

The better you understand yourself and others, the more productive your meeting discussions can be even in stressful situations.  Exploring your personal style can be an exciting journey.

MSB Coach has the resources and tools to develop with your leadership skillset by understanding personality types.  Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.

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Leadership Storms

Posted in Blog, All Posts

The intensity, destruction and aftermath of a powerful storm can be overwhelming.  The things we once took for granted become the most important in the aftermath.  We learn to value safety, warmth, clean water, a shower, and a hug from a caring person. In this case, as with others, there are lessons to be learned.

If you have been in a leadership role for any length of time, you have experienced a few storms both personal and professional.  So, how do we weather these storms as leaders and how do we support others through their aftermath?  Below are eight things that I are as true in leadership as they are with tornadoes and floods:

  1. Stay Calm – In an audio clip I viewed of a storm there were people huddled in a store refrigerator to escape the tornado.  I could hear the leader speaking calmly as he gave directions and moved people toward action.  His calm demeanor kept them focused on what they needed to do in that moment. If a leader panics or becomes overly emotional, only chaos will emerge.  People want to believe that their leader has things under control.
  2. Have a plan – work that plan – In another case, when waters were approaching a family farm there were initial discussions of “throwing in the towel”.  It appeared that there was no way to beat the rising water.  Then a plan was initiated by the leader.  There were plenty of naysayers, but the leader continued to encourage, “Let’s work the plan”.  They worked the plan and much of their hard work paid off. During storms, we may need to re-work our plans or even devise new ones.  Engage others in working that plan.  People will rise to the challenge - they just need a leader who will take a stand.
  3. Speak in succinct terms – In times of stress, we are unable to hear long, laborious statements.  Be succinct in your directions and communications.  People want to know what is really important and what has to happen next.
  4. Give people something to do – Remember you are not alone in the storm.  People will help you.  They want to be part of the solution. Ask them. Or maybe it’s more of a matter of just allowing them to help you.
  5. Communicate like crazy – let others communicate – As the tornado approached, this leader kept talking to the huddled people, questions were asked and others made suggestions.  As the leader listened, he/she continued to make necessary adjustments.  The leader never stopped communicating as the tornado ripped through the building. Many times leaders make the mistake of being silent or not listening during times of turbulence.  People want to know that their leader is aware of what is happening, willing to listen and adjust if needed.  They want to be certain that their leader will be there through “thick and thin”!
  6. Reassure/be visible – Throughout the horrific sounds of breaking glass, howling wind, and boards ripping, you could hear this leader continue to reassure people. At one point the leader used a cell phone to light up their face so others could see that he/she was still there.   His words were strong and definitive…”We are going to make it.  Hang on, it will end soon….” Nothing speaks louder than the leader “being there” during the storm.  Your visibility and reassuring words give comfort and confidence to do or survive the impossible.  People want a strong leader who believes in herself and the power of others.
  7. Be kind - As the leader/owner and employees scurried out of the badly damaged building, this leader checked with each of the employees to make sure they were ok.  Then she told them to take any items that they thought they may need and go to their families.  She told them to let her know if they needed additional things.  One employee said he had never experienced such kindness and concern. He was willing to stay and help her start the clean-up but she insisted that he check-in with his family. Often we are so focused on the storm; we forget to be kind and considerate of others. Kindness can make the hard work just a little easier.  Find little ways to show kindness.
  8. Remember what really counts – Reoccurring responses from those who have lost so much are statements like these: “I am just thankful to be alive”; “I only want to find my family pictures”; “I have my family that is all that matters”; “I am ready to start the rebuilding process”.....Storms have a way clearing away the “clutter” of our life and showing us what is really important and of value. Leaders, I recommend that you remind yourself often of the question, “What is really important and what really counts?” 

The bottom line is important; however, to achieve that desired bottom line, we need people.  People need to know that you care…really care.

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