Posts Tagged Trust

The First Step in Rebuilding Trust During the Government Shutdown

If you're not extending trust, you're not leading. As I was sifting through updates on Facebook last night, I came across an interesting photo that one of my friends “Liked” on her Facebook page. The picture was of a letter sent from Republican Congresswoman, Ann Wagner, to Dan Strodel, Chief Administrative Officer, requesting that her pay be withheld throughout the shutdown. Ann’s request is not a common one but struck me as an excellent indication of her leadership style. If over 800,000 government employees are unable to work and collect a paycheck, why should members of Congress be exempt. Ann stated in a comment, “As a result of partisan bickering and gridlock, I have waived my salary for the duration of the government shutdown because congress didn’t get the job done.  Those who make the laws should have to live by those laws, and I will continue to fight for the people of Missouri’s 2nd District.”

I’m sure some readers may be thinking, “She’s a republican and is part of why the shutdown is occurring in the first place.” In fact, as I was doing some research on Wagner, I came across an article that disapproved of Wagner’s actions. However, regardless of your political stance, you have to applaud her for making such a bold move and not exempting herself from the same fate as the other “non-essential” government employees. That is the mark of a true leader and also a trust building attempt.

In the new book, Trust, Inc., Randy Conley, trust expert at The Ken Blanchard Companies, writes, “Trust is based on perceptions, so each of us has a different idea of what trust looks like. For leaders to be successful in developing high-trust relationships and cultures, they need to focus on using behaviors that align with the ABCD’s of trust.” The ABCD Model of Trust is an acronym that stands for:

Able –Being Able is about demonstrating competence.
Believable – A Believable leader acts with integrity.
ConnectedConnected leadership shows care and concern for people.
Dependable – Being Dependable and maintaining reliability.

Unfortunately, trust in our government leaders has been taking it on the chin for some time now. Fortunately, Conley outlines the five-step process in rebuilding broken trust in the book. The first step in rebuilding trust is to acknowledge that a problem exists, followed by leaders admitting their part in causing the breach of trust. The third step is to apologize for their role in the situation in order to move on to assessing which elements of the ABCD Trust Model were violated. The final step is for the leader and the offended party to agree on what they can do differently moving forward. This is clearly not an easy task. Stephen M.R. Covey, another contributing author to Trust, Inc. acknowledges that leaders need to take the first step in order to increase influence and grow trust in a team, organization, or community. Covey states that the first job of a leader is to inspire trust, and the second is to extend it.

I don’t think that the action Ann Wagner took will have much impact on the direction of the other Congress members nor the direction of the government shutdown. However, I do believe that she took the first step to increasing and growing trust in a highly untrustworthy and difficult situation.

As we wrap-up a second week of the shutdown and the two parties attempt to come to a compromise, what are you doing to demonstrate your leadership values? Share your thoughts here or on the How Gov Leads Twitter page, #leadinginashutdown.

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You Forgot Your Socks… Again?! Leadership Priorities in a Time of Change

Leadership Priorities in a Time of ChangeToday’s post was written by How Gov Lead’s new contributing author, Amber Hansen.  Amber has worked in Government contracting for over nine years. She is currently a Project Manager working with Federal Government clients at The Ken Blanchard Companies. Watch this blog for more thought leadership from Amber.

Have you ever met someone who is really great at one part of their job and terrible at another?  I happen to be married to a man who for many years was a Navy Corpsman who loved his job but struggled with some of what comes with being in the military.  I once heard a leader of his say he was “an amazing Corpsman and a terrible sailor.”  To put it in very simple terms, that means he was really good at caring for his patients and training junior members of his team and not so great at keeping his uniform in order and being on time.  This leader understood clearly that my husband had significant strengths but like all of us, he had weaknesses, too.

What happens when forgetting to bring the right kind of socks for a uniform becomes a reason to be reprimanded at work?  That may depend on one’s leader.  Some of us are truly adept at handling the details of life; we might keep backup socks in the car just in case.  Others just do not think this way.  My husband is very bright, he learns things quickly, takes what he believes is useful and leaves behind what he sees as a bit of a waste of his time.  I suspect the things that may have made him a good sailor, like bringing the right pair of socks, were the same things that appeared to him to be a waste of time.  In my husband’s world, ensuring he had the right medical supplies packed for a mission ranked just a little higher than the socks.  If my life depended on him and I had to choose between socks and medical supplies I would be glad to have left the socks behind.

Some of the military leaders I have met would focus on those missing socks because they see that as the foundation to doing the rest of any job well.  They could not see past the socks to find a truly valuable and talented team member.  They allowed the socks to become the focus of their interaction with a Corpsman who by the end of his career was influencing the careers of junior Corpsman, helping them build their skills, improve their productivity, and learn to teach others.

Our military is dealing with stressors many civilians cannot fully comprehend.  From multiple deployments and Post Traumatic Stress to shrinking budgets and less time and resources to train; our military members work hard and they deserve leaders who are prepared to support and serve them. Our military and government leaders need to be innovative in this new world of looming sequester budgets and ongoing wars. And they must ensure their teams are able to fully realize their potential in order to bring the most value to the organization and to themselves. Empowerment is key!

When a team member can’t seem to remember to bring the right socks the leader must set him up to succeed anyway.  Helping that direct report remember to “bring the appropriate socks” may seem like a waste of time, but if it is a waste of time for the leader, perhaps that is the heart of the reason it’s a waste of time for the individual.  If a leader can show that helping that sailor succeed with his socks, the payoff is that the sailor will trust the leader to help him succeed in much more significant ways.

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How Self-Serving Leadership is Keeping Millennials Away from Washington

Are Millennials changing leadership in the government?We’ve all come across a self-serving leader at one point in our professional careers. They are the type of leader who is motivated by self-interest and adopts the “give a little, take a lot” mindset. Self-serving leaders make their own agenda, status, and gratification more of a priority than those affected by their thoughts and actions. Harvard’s Institute of Politics study, “Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service,” proves that Millennials have zero tolerance for this type of leader. The study reveals that 59% of this booming generation feels that “elected officials” seem to be motivated by selfish reasons.

Another discouraging fact that government leaders are currently in the trenches of is the quick and steady decline of trust levels amongst current public sector employees and potential future leaders. Only 22% of Millennials trust the Federal Government to do the right thing. That percentage declines even more to 18% when it comes to trust levels with Congress. Trust, morals, values all encompass doing the right thing, not just for yourself but for society. I recently had a conversation with a colleague about the moral compass of the world today and the deteriorating values that are becoming the new normal. If you were one of the unlucky few that watched Miley Cyrus’ performance on the MTV Video Music Awards, you have an idea of what I am referring to. Our conversation focused on behavior that was once considered shocking is now common behavior, devoid of any reflection of the consequences that may occur. No longer should we lead by example and as the target group of this survey has solidified by the findings of the study, they are well aware of this fact and are taking matters into their own hands.

  • 56 percent of Millennials agree that “elected officials don’t have the same priorities I have”
  • 48 percent agree that “politics has become too partisan”
  • 28 percent agree that “political involvement rarely has any tangible results”

Ron Fournier, author of the article, The Outsiders: How Can Millennials Change Washington If They Hate It?, took to several schools in Washington and Boston to uncover the truths behind what the Harvard IOP study unveiled. The students Ron interviewed seemed to have a general consensus of their outlook of the future if our government continues as it has been and it is pretty much aligned with Harvard’s survey results. A particular response that Fournier received to one of the questions asked at Langley High School in Washington was particularly unsettling. When Ron asked these students how many of them will pursue a career in politics or government, a student replied, “Is this a joke?” That same student commented, “The thing about social institutions is when you destroy them, they get rebuilt eventually, in a different form for a different time.”

If Millennials are set on “destroying” current social institutions so they can rebuild them to be more functional, who are the leaders that are guiding them down this path? Amongst the plethora of self-serving leaders that are shaping this generation’s perspective of our imminent future, where are the servant leaders that are providing balanced and positive examples and guidelines of how these individuals can change the world? We need these leaders. We need great leaders that serve our country rather than serve themselves.

Ken Blanchard wrote a book with Mark Miller, vice president of training and development for Chick-fil-A about how great leaders serve. In the book, the word serve is an acronym that outlines the traits that distinguish self-serving leaders from great leaders. The acronym stands for; S = See the Future, E = Engage and Develop People, R = Reinvent Continuously, V = Value Results and Relationships, and E = Embody the Values. The SERVE acronym is definitely not an easy thing to live up to on a daily basis. Yet, it seems as though the Millennials are on to something here.

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Learning To Be A Great Leader: How Leading Up Can Influence Your Supervisor’s Leadership Skills

leadership skillsI work for a leadership organization.  On a daily basis, I am surrounded by comments, articles, research, subject matter experts, blogs, and books on how to be a great leader.  I believe in these wisdoms and the years of research that the experts walking the halls around here have uncovered.  They are prudent truths to me and I try to adopt these best practices every day.   A few months ago, I made the decision to go back to school and pursue a Master’s of Science in Leadership.  As if I am not inundated with enough about leadership, I wanted to learn how “outsiders” interpret what a great leader looks like, the experiences they’ve had with the leaders in their lives, and how they plan to be the best leader they can be both in and out of the workplace.

This educational journey has been interesting and exciting.  What I find most intriguing are the vastly different interpretations of what makes a great leader and the behavior great leaders demonstrate day in and day out.   I recently conducted a poll on Facebook and GovLoop and asked people what they believe to be the top three traits of a great leader.  The responses I received were so varied.  Some of them include thoughtfulness, integrity, consistency, good listener, collaborator, honesty, action oriented, passionate, empathy, and trust.  After reading all of the feedback, I started contemplating whether or not there really is a general list of the best leadership traits.  Does a leadership model, that we can provide to every individual that wants to be a great leader, really exist?  Or does every individual require their manager or supervisor to possess the specific leadership skills that will motivate, engage, and help guide them to success?  What if you find your dream job but not your dream leader?

Two traits that over 50% of the responders included in the conducted poll as a must-have in every great leader are communication and listening skills.  These skills are critical to every single relationship you will encounter in your life.  Sharing information, facilitating conversation, and listening to each other fosters trust and motivates people to want to do something good and productive.   What I realized is that if we do find our dream job minus the dream leader, we have the ability to “lead up” and communicate our needs to our leader in order to create a successful relationship.  This does require us as individuals to have good communication skills ourselves.  An effective way to build on these skills for both you and your manager is to hold regular one-on-one meetings that will allow the two of you to discuss each other’s needs that will lead to goal accomplishment.  After all, what should be equally important to the both of you is the success of the organization.

How are you leading up?  Are you able to openly communicate to your supervisor the needs you have in order to be successful in your agency?

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Is America In Better Hands With The Federal Government Or Major Businesses?

Do you have more trust in your local corner store owner than you do in the Federal Government? Would you have more confidence in the ability of private businesses solving national problems in our country? The 2012 Public Affairs Pulse survey, released yesterday by the nonpartisan Public Affairs Council and conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, found that to be true among the majority of Americans. The state of our nation has given the American people cause for concern. When will we see positive strides in the economy? Whose responsibility is it to boost the unemployment rate? Will our next president make the changes the public is demanding?

Sixty-seven percent of Americans have a favorable view of major companies versus forty-one percent having a favorable view of the federal government. In fact, more folks agree that private businesses should take on solving many of the national problems facing this great country, rather than have the government continue to try to resolve them.

  • 72% say private organizations should provide community services such as food banks, free clinics and job training for the poor.
  • 68% believe that businesses should take on more responsibility for improving the quality and affordability of health care.
  • 66% feel that improving the quality of education is in better hands of private organizations than the governments.
  • 62% think that businesses would have more of an impact on relief efforts such as floods, tornadoes and earthquakes.

Although the findings from this survey have increased slightly from last year on issues like the economy and regulation, the overall favorability of our government is still not very positive.

 How can we improve American’s opinion of our government? Could private businesses make more headway in solving some of our country’s problems? Is it our nation’s leaders that should bear the brunt of this crisis? According to Jack Bowsher, author of Educating Votes for Rebuilding America, the answer is yes. Bowsher says, “all the problems facing our country resulted from decisions made by political leaders in past administrations.” However, all hope is not lost. Jack also believes that these bad decisions can be turned around by political leaders that will step-up in the future. Exactly how that will happen is yet to be seen, according to the American people.

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Are You Listening To Me?

I recently posted a link to an article on my Twitter page about “leadership deficit” at government agencies. The article featured commentary by Ron Sanders, senior executive advisor and fellow at Booz Allen Hamilton. Sanders noted several reasons for this deficit in the public sector that include the GS classification system, the value of technical skills over the ability to inspire and engage, and the shortage of budget to allocate to federal management’s leadership development. What about listening skills?

People need to feel heard. In any relationship, effective listening may be the most important skill for building trust and creating a strong connection. Many managers believe that they are good listeners, while their employees feel otherwise. In his new book, Power Listening, chairman and founder of Ferrari Consultancy, Bernard Ferrari lists several behaviors great listeners demonstrate.

  • Show respect – seek input and involve all levels of your staff
  • Keep quiet – allow others to speak 80% of the time, while you speak only 20%.
  • Challenge assumptions – seek to understand and challenge the assumptions that lie below the surface of every conversation

Listen to Blanchard Senior Consulting Partner and author Dr. Vicki Halsey give a brief overview of how managers can improve their listening and feedback skills in a way that leaves direct reports feeling heard and that helps them to focus on improving performance.

You can also listen to the entire webinar on how to develop an organization-wide understanding of how providing effective feedback, combined with good listening skills improves trust and respect between leaders and the people they lead.

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From Vegas to Colombia: Scandals Impacting Government Leadership

Scandal is nothing new to the White House. Many of us can recall several “mishaps” involving former presidents. This time, however, it’s the Secret Service. On April 11th, a dozen Secret Service agents and eleven military personnel were involved in an incident that involved partying at a local nightclub in Cartagena, Colombia, heavy drinking, and involvements with prostitutes while preparing for a visit by President Obama. Since that event, two supervisors who were involved in the scandal have been identified and removed from their positions. The case has been all over the news and has been causing quite a stir for the agency responsible for the well-being of the President of the United States.

Just as they did with the GSA scandal, lawmakers, citizens, government workers, and the media have been questioning the integrity, ethics, and accountability of the agency. So who is responsible? Who will ensure behavior like this will never happen again? President Obama has said that he has full trust in the Secret Service Director, Mark Sullivan, to continue the investigation and take the appropriate corrective actions needed. That’s all fine and dandy, but what about the trust that the American people, who are losing millions of their tax dollars due to these scandals, have lost for our government? Randy Conley, Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies, says that leaders must purposely engage in four trust-building behaviors in order for individuals to maintain confidence with their leader. Those behaviors include:

  • Demonstrate competence
  • Act with integrity
  • Care about others
  • Maintain reliability

After reading many articles and watching several news stories about both scandals, I can’t say that those involved with the GSA and Secret Service events practiced these four behaviors. So what corrective actions can government leaders now take to ensure that debauchery such as this won’t continue at other agencies? After all, people do make mistakes. Even with the best of intentions, leaders make mistakes that impact the commitment, morale, and performance of the people who work for them. With investigations in both cases still underway, we’ll have to wait and see the effects that these scandals will have on the future leadership and behaviors of our government.

Want to learn three actionable steps leaders can take to self-diagnose, assess, and change unwanted behaviors? Take a break at 9:00am PST/12:00pm EST today to listen to best-selling author and consultant Chris Edmonds share insight on how leaders can avoid making some common mistakes.

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