Harnessing the power of culture of trust

Effective prioritization (3)

The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time.


Upholding any great teamwork environment is a culture of trust. For people to push together in the same direction, they need a motivating binding reason to put the team need’s first. In extreme situations, like danger, working together can sometimes be forced upon us by innate survival instinct which we realise is best met by working as an unit. Likewise in some negative pressure moments, like fear of job loss, the shared “fear” can sometimes enable people to work together, if they believe all jobs can be saved. However in both cases, the “stick” like pressure is unpredictable and it can just as likely be the case that individuals ditch the team if they believe their interests are better served alone. In short “stick” like  pressure can only bind people together for so long.

“Stick” like means of gaining trust don’t normally last long.

A far more long term creater of team work is the belief that serving the unit also serves oneself and this exists when people feel genuine trust. At the base of any culture of trust are the three pillars of trust: authenticy, empathy and logic which thbound together the interests and needs of the unit. Authenticity means your team won’t doubt your intentions, dismissing the need to think of one’s own interest first. Likewise being authentic means you will admit mistakes and not be afraid of showing weakness which also leads to trust. Empathy of course is needed as it communicates to the team that their feelings and emotions matter and won’t be ignored as without this, people’s more extreme emotions could drive them towards self interest. Finally logic is needed as ultimately we all trust things we understand and logic and reasoning fills this information gap. To create a culture of trust we will need to explain why sacrifice is needed or justify why a bad decision was made as without doing those people won’t trust that their interests are represented. People ultimately normally accept mistakes when they understand and emphathise with the human reason why it happened.

Authenticity, Empathy and Logic are three pillars of trust.

When we actively practice the three pillars of trust, all team members will be able to better understand the triangular relationship between: action, intention and impact. img_1467Usually trust first breaks down not because someone actually did something, but rather because others fear they did it. It is far easier to allow in this fear when team players aren’t authentic, as ultimately we trust less the people we don’t feel we know. Likewise an environment without empathy will mean people are wary of showing their weakness, hence less honesty and therefore reduced authenticity. And of course when we don’t understand the reasonings for things it far easier to jump to the assumption that people are doing something we don’t like, even when we don’t necessarily have the facts to confirm this.

A culture of trust allows the team to feel realtionship between action, intention and impact.

Another vital part of any trust envrionment is the exisistence and active adherance to communal values, ideally coming in some form from the company’s own value system. Values allow us to identify with something bigger than ourselves and hence be more willing to put ourselves second. A value understood and adhered to allows two individuals pushing for their own separate views to accept a third alternative way and it is knowing this third way exists that creates a culture of trust amoung a team. Ultimately individuals will never trust fully, if they feel someone else’s way is frequently put in front of their own. Team/Company values come in many forms and there is another blog post on this but what matters here is to understand that understood and practised company values like: tranparency of information, judging development as much as performance and willingness to admit when you made a mistake all contribute to a secure value system which in turn links the triangular relationship between actions, intentions and impact which is essential to trust.

A practised value system allows the team to see the connection between actions, intention and impact which in turn creates trust.

The most effective work environments are ones where people seamlessly work together . In many ways trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for all the different cogs to turn together and hence work in unision. Cog-peopleContrary to what most people believe, trust is not some illusive quality that people or team’s either have or don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that leaders and teams can create. Creating a culture of trust is hard work and requires continuous maintenance but it more than pays itself off in the longer term as studies continuosly prove trust contributes to higher productivity. Ultimately if you want your team to follow your lead, you need to invest into and maintain a firm culture of trust.

Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people.”



Prioritization: Achieving more in less time

Effective prioritization

1. Have clear your core purpose and macro objectives.

= provides the vision to prioritize from.

Prioritizing well is both an organizational and mental discipline. First and foremost the key aspect to effective work prioritization is having clear what are the overall macro company objectives and what is your specific role in achieving these. Without this clarity of mission (direction), you will find you lack a “vision” and a natural sense of direction what decision to take. Therefore having the answers clear to the following questions is key as a starting point to effective prioritization:

  • What is the overall mission of my company?
  • What is my (and) my team’s role in achieving this mission?
  • What do i concretely need to do to achieve this?

Know your company’s mission.

Continue reading “Prioritization: Achieving more in less time”

Power of Mental Reset

Mental Reset

The difference between peak performance and poor performance is not intelligence or ability; most often it’s the state that your mind and body is in.

—Tony Robbins

Stress can really mess you up. It can slow you down. It can cause you to make bad decisions. It can even make you sick. Fear and other strong emotions can have a similar detrimental effects. Not far down the line – unless you take action – is burn out. When you’re stressed, afraid, or otherwise upset it shouldn’t be ignored, instead you need to control your reactions via the right emotional trigger. At the heart of stimulating the right reaction is utilising the power of reset. Resetting your mind is both a necessary short and long term response for managing stress. Continue reading “Power of Mental Reset”

“Why factor” in leadership

Why Factor

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

Simon Sinek (Start with why)

To bind teams together it is essential to have a shared culture of purpose and to feed all the involved parties` WIIFM factor (What’s in it for me?). At the heart of managing both of these well is understanding the “why factor” of all involved. The “why factor” encompasses: personal, team and even society reasons “why” people do things and is both logical and emotional in nature. It is the key component behind our motivation to do something and hence it is extremely powerful as a leader to tap into and harness the influence of “why”. To know how to do this, it is useful to breakdown the types of “whys” into groups and types, broadly speaking these are:

  • Personal Motivational Why: why should i care about what i am doing? Why is it in my interest? Why will i be willing to give extra to achieve success?
  • Team Motivation Why: why is in the group’s interest? Why should personal motivation be put second to the group’s? Why should we follow the same why?
  • Value Based Why: why is this morally the right thing to do? Why do I or the company need to sacrifice our own personal and team whys for the greater good?
  • Logical Why: why is it logically the most sensible and obvious thing to do? Why does it triumph my emotional want? Why must I give in to logic despite my feelings?
  • Emotional Why: why is this so important to how I and others feel? Why can i not bow to logic with this why? Why am i emotionally connected to this?

Continue reading ““Why factor” in leadership”

Why we must first remove fear in order to replace excuses with progress.

Remove fear

There are only two options: make excuses or make progress.

Tony Robbins

In a fast paced world where ever more is demanded of leaders and the teams we manage, it is essential to exercise an inside out approach to problems and “yes i can” attitude to resolution. At the heart of this is the art of focusing our mind and resources on making progress, over wasting our energy and attention on creating excuses. In short: winners make progress and losers get lost in a mine-field of justifications for failure. However there are reasons why staff make excuses and great leaders need to understand why people feel the need to make excuses in order to be able to guide them alternatively to making progress.
Continue reading “Why we must first remove fear in order to replace excuses with progress.”

How to identify and break BAD habits?

Bad Habits

Knowledge is learning something new everyday. Wisdom is letting go of some bad habits everyday.

Farshad Asl

Bad habits — everyone’s got them. From nail biting to being perpetually late, we all have little behavioural patterns that we could definitely live without. Being ourselves – fallible human beings – is often used as an excuse why we have these “imperfections”, but our own unique “human” self-awareness and resilience is actually the best defence against unhealthy and unwanted habits.

Bad habits can be broken.

“Habit” is a routine of behaviour repeated regularly that tends to occur subconsciously. A routine we repeat regularly becomes increasingly difficult to break or even to observe. These habits (good and bad) are the infraestructure of our lives and in many ways they determine our future which is why it is essential to not only pursue success habits but also be capable of identifying, breaking and removing bad ones. For leaders we have to not only be capable of doing this for ourselves but also be able to lead our team in doing it for themselves.

Great people leaders are capable of guiding others to break bad habits.

The most obvious tool in fighting bad habits is the prevention of the habit to begin with. This is why effective training of any team can’t only focus on training the needed skills and procedures to follow, it must also go into attitudes and expectations. A new staff member may have the pre-existing bad habit of using their personal phone at work but when they start their new job they have a clean-slate, offering them an opportunity to break bad habits. However if your work productivity training hasn’t covered the consequences of uncontrolled personal phone usage on productivity and left clear the linkage of this to work results – and even to work contentness – you can be pretty sure this pre-existing – bad – habit will surface soon.

The first line of defence against bad work habits is training in prevention.

The same goes for common bad habits, like: punctuality, poor work appearance, staff chatting, social media usage, procrastination etc… if your induction hasn’t left clear your company’s expectations in these areas and linked these to staff productivity, you can be pretty sure staff’s pre existing bad habits will surface. More dangerous than this, is that one new staff member’s uncontrolled bad habit, could break the good habits other staff members have worked hard to implant. No company or work environment has the exact same environment so the bad habits you are seeking to prevent will no doubt be specific to your work conditions but what is essential as a leader is to recognise that you have the responsibility to guide your team away from forming bad habits.

As leader you have the responsibility to prevent staff forming bad habits at work.

Not all bad habits can be prevented, some will escape our influence and form and others are too strongly implanted to be “prevented” by training alone. Also, if we move into a new leadership post, we will inherit a team with pre-existing good and bad work habits therefore we also need to know how to address, cure and remove bad habits, as well as preventing them. The first key factor to addressing and overcoming a bad habit, be it in our ourselves or others, is to be conscious – aware – of the problem, the transition from stage 1 to 2 in the learning pyramid. This may sound simple or reductive, but it can be one of the most difficult steps in the process of overcoming a negative pattern. Try to notice what exactly you (or your team player) are doing, and then identify the triggers (cues) and the environment of the habit. If a team playing is procrastinating, ask what is causing that procrastination? Is it them feeling they have too many things to do? Is it the “weight” of making that first step? Or is it lack of confidence in a specific area? Once you identified the root cause you can direct willpower directly towards that specific moment and fight the continuation of that bad habit head on.

The first step to curing a bad habit is awareness of it and connecting its occurence to a trigger or sequence of triggers.

After you have observed the habit and identified the cause of the issue, it is a good idea to write it all down: noting down the (bad) habit and below the triggers you identified and then the root cause of those triggers and finally the consequence of the bad habit. This process aligns awareness of why this behaviour occurs with the real consequences and hence make it easier to focus on what to do about it which ultimately should be removing a bad habit and replacing it with a good one.Captura de pantalla (16) Looking at the example notes to the right for a staff member of mine, you can see how the awareness of having a messy desk was justified by leaving in a rush due to (triggered by) the worry they felt about not arriving on time to pick up their son. When they were asked to look into the consequences of leaving in a rush, they identified it had more impact on them than they first thought: it was causing them: to leave some things half done, starting the next day with disorganization and feeling less control over their work responsibilities. As they went through this process, they realised the real root cause was their poor time management which was a far bigger issue to address than a messy desk but by analyzing why they had a messy desk, they reached this far more useful conclusion. They then identified that a solution could be having an “end of day (tidy up) routine” that they time-blocked into their daily work procedure. They then concluded that this would only happen if they planned out their days week by week and reflected on and replanned their day daily. The result of this “bad habit” identification process (see also diagrams below) was a commitment to plan out their day and the understanding of the consequence this was having on them.

However being aware of a bad habit and then identifying a solution will still often not be enough by itself to remove an entrenched bad habit. In these circumstances we will also need ready made “if then” counter plans to redirect us in a more positive direction when we feel the “cues” (triggers) of a bad habit. For example in the messy desk example, we would likely need “if then” plans for the following situation below which could break our “end of the day routine” unless we were prepared for them.

  • If a must do task out of your control was scheduled for the end of the day – IF THEN: I would move my “end of day routine” forward and do it an hour earlier for all areas i could.
  • If an improtu situation happens at the end of the day that i can’t avoid – IF THENI would do my end of day routine later after i had picked up my son and/or come in earlier the next day to still start my day in an organized fashion.
  • If I find myself losing the desire to do my end of day routine – IF THEN: I would put up notes around my desk and on my computer reminding myself of the difference it had made and why it mattered to me.

These are just some examples but the point is that to really break a tough bad habit you must be prepared for moments of weakness and have “if then” responses planned to redirect you when feel the cues (triggers).

If you want to break a entrenched bad habit, you need to have “if then” plans prepared for dealing with weak moments.

Breaking bad habits is an essential part of staff productivity and should form an integral part of any professional development programme. We should train staff in good practices to help prevent bad work habits forming. However even more so, as leaders, we must be ready to identify and bring up with staff in feedback sessions bad habits that we spot and should encourage them to actively do this identification for themselves. When we spot bad habits that we know are effecting work productivity, our goal must be to put an action plan in place to remove them and indead replace the bad with a good habit. When we achieve this we will reap the rewards, not only in the direct benefit of having more productive staff but also an more autonmous team who can identify and remove bad habits for themselves.

Great managers know how to break bad habits so they are replaced with good ones.

Steps to breaking BAD habits

5 Reasons why staff fail to improve and what leaders can do about them

5 reasons staff don't improve

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

– Thomas A. Edison

As a manager there is nothing more frustrating than investing time, money and emotional energy into developing a staff member and yet still after all this effort and personal attention they fail to improve. Whilst there are many reasons this might have happened, i will cover here 5 frequent causes that every manager should bear in mind and be equipped to steer their staff away from.

Every manager should be aware of common reasons staff fail to improve as without that they will not be able to guide their staff past them.

Reason 1: the staff member doesn’t identify with why they should improve?

For people to invest themselves in creating positive personal change, they must willingly and consciously identify with a reason why it matters to them to personally to do so. The why factor is their lamp which guides them in dark, it is their energy drink which gives them strength to keep moving forward. Our job as managers is to help provide this why.  It is an useless exercise to point out what a staff member needs to improve in but not explain why it matters. It is also equally prone to failure – at least in the longer term – to demand change but not help your staff to realise why that change is beneficial to them. The why factor is the logic that feeds our natural WIIFM (what’s in if for me?) motivation and without it very few staff members will keep pushing themselves over the long haul to create personal change. One must remember all habit change is established over time.

Management TIP I: provide the why and make it personal.

Reason 2: the staff member doesn’t link the change required to their daily actions

Even though romantics would like to think differently, it is not eureka insight itself which creates change but rather the actions that come about because of that moment of enlightenment. Indeed there is little benefit in knowing you need to change, if you don’t work out how you will change and connect that to concrete daily and weekly actions. Gary Keller in his excellent “One Thing” development book stats the way to do this is to ask yourself: “what one thing could i do to create the change i need?” and to keep on doing this until the answer becomes “one thing” that you can do right now. This technique of continuously questioning in order to arrive at the action to be done right now is one way to connect your goal to daily life but what matters here is to recognise that many people fail to improve not because they don’t recognise change is needed but rather because they don’t connect it to concrete action. Therefore our job as a manager is to pinpoint this action if staff can not do it themselves. 

Management TIP II: connect change as resulting from repeated daily actions.

Reason 3: staff fail to time-block in the actions needed to create change.

Even if staff identify with why they should change and connect improvement to a specific set of daily actions, many will still fail because they won’t time-block in these actions so they will happened without fail. We have all experienced what frequently happens with new year resolutions, where we promise to get healthier or to lose weight by going to the gym 3 times a week but by February we have already stopped going. A frequent reason why is we never time-blocked in the set days to go or, if we did, we didn’t react to the unexpected by readjusting our time blocking (the days we plan to go to gym) to the dynamics of our schedule. Professional development often fails to evolve for similar reasons. For example we stop reflecting at the end the day the moment we become too busy but this didn’t have to be case if we had time-blocked in 10 minutes to do so and respected the importance of doing it. If we don’t time-block in the actions needing to be done, inevitably something in our day will knock us of track. As a manager we should get staff to realise how essential time-blocking in development time (the actions needing done to improve) is to actual improvement as without protecting the time you need to do the actions to improve you quite simply will never improve.

Management TIP III: Make sure staff schedule in and time-block development time.

Reason 4: staff don’t turn actions into habit so once early enthusiasm (or pushing from you) dies down they drop it.

Few personal improvements which result from actions we are doing will remain in the long term unless we manage to turn them into success habits. Deciding what actions we need to do requires decision making energy and keeping them up each and everyday takes willpower and we only have so much of both these. This is why it is essential we aim to establish our actions we are doing to improve into a habit or set of them. When something is a habit, we no longer need to use decision making energy or willpower each day to keep them up, we rather do them almost without thinking. Brushing our teeth or putting on clean clothes are two routine habits that nearly all of us do without expending any mental energy. Likewise for more complex and demanding habits, like training for a marathon, many of us reach the moment when going for a training run is no longer a mental effort to do, rather it is part of our routine, part of our sense of being. Improvement in ourselves in work is similar, if for example we are working on goal setting and reflection, we should aim to reach a point when we no longer force ourselves to reflect at the end of the day, we rather just do it automatically without thinking, when we have got there we have established a habit and the benefit of that change, whilst still needing maintenance, is likely to continue because it is now part of us. Great managers therefore keep guiding their staff in their improvement areas until it is part of them, until the habit is so deeply entwined with their sense of self that it will not stop.

Management tip IV: push for staff to fix their improvement via fixed habits.

Reason 5: staff don’t form a continuous relationship with their improvement goal.

It might sound strange to use the expression “relationship with” when referring to ourselves and our goals but it is a real concept. Once we enter into the world of development, we enter into a personal relationship with the improvements we are seeking. They become part of us, part of our story. Improvements can change our personality and develop our character and thus when mastered they become part of us. A relationship with our goals – and the actions required to get them  – is seeing the connection between the action of doing them and the real -change – result it has on us when they have been completed. It is talking to friends, colleagues and mentors about these development goals and synergising the logic of why you must do it with why it matters to you. Your goal becomes your success journey, part of your life story. Staff who let a habit become part of how they define themselves are far more likely to keep it up as it is part of the new and better you. Our role as leaders is to help our staff to embrace this relationship with their goals and accept the new person that results from the change and when this happens the improvement is entrenched and complete change completed.

Management tip V: help staff to form a relationship with their goals.

Great managers understand that their role is much more than just pointing out areas for their staff to improve on, it is rather to guide them along the long and challenging journey of positive personal change. Leaders must help their staff: find the “why”, to connect change to daily actions, to time-block, to form habits and develop a long term relationship with the change itself. When leaders guide their staff in these 5 essential steps, staff will have a far better change of making the improvement the leader was demanding.

Great leaders dont just pinpoint things to improve on, they rather guide staff along their development journey of positive change.

5 steps to personal improvement








Power words and communication techniques

Power Words (1).png

Words have magical power. They can bring the greatest happiness or the darkest despair.

Sigmund Freud

Words are powerful. They have the ability to inspire, motivate, and persuade; or discourage, dismiss, and dissuade. With your words, you can wield the power to plant the seeds of success or failure in the mind of another, and in the process you reveal who you are, how you think, and what you believe. Whether it’s buying in an interest group, promoting a product, building a team, or mending a relationship, the right words spoken at the right time can change everything. Power words and techniques can help us to engage our listeners and persuade them to follow our lead. Continue reading “Power words and communication techniques”

Using the 9 types of intelligence in management

9 Types of Intelligence

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.

Albert Einstein

There is a great tendency by people to want to think in whole truths, to think for example that someone is intelligent or not. But the problem with thinking this way is it creates “I am” or “I am not” mentality. Sometimes the result of this can be to oversimplify and hence self limit oneself, i.e.: as you “are intelligent” you don’t need to learn more or to change or as you “are not intelligent” you accept, you can never learn or do certain things. However, intelligence – like personality – is not this simple to define and rather there are many ways to express intelligence, or better said many types of intelligence. For this reason it is unlikely the case that someone is just “more intelligent” than everyone else, rather they are more gifted in certain usage of intelligence. Continue reading “Using the 9 types of intelligence in management”

Managing Perfectionism

Managing perfectionism

Don’t aim for perfection. Aim for better than yesterday.
― Izey Victoria Odiase

Perfectionism is one of the most polarizing attributes for managers to deal with. Some leaders instinctively stand by it as key characteristic behind motivating an individual to achieve quality results, whilst others see it as a negative characteristic which causes poor time prioritization. No matter where you stand as a leader you will need to manage perfectionism at some point, be it in yourself or in those you lead. The key thing with perfectionism is to recognize it is not a black and white issue – as it is neither an all positive or all negative characteristic – rather it has both good and bad parts that need to be identified and understood. This is where good management comes in to separate the good from the bad and channel energies and efforts onto using the good parts. Continue reading “Managing Perfectionism”