Anamcgary's Blog

Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR

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Trust Gap

Despite the fact that employees who trust the decisions of their boss are more loyal and engaged, leaders often fail to cultivate employee trust. A recent survey found we have a deep trust gap: while 90 percent of leaders and employees say that it’s important for employees to trust their leaders, 65 percent of employees rate their level of trust in their leaders as moderate; 37 percent of employees say that they trust leaders less today; and 47 percent of leaders say that their employees trust them less. Only 8 percent of employees say they trust their leaders to a great extent.

Leaders should place a premium on trust since we see a strong correlation between trust in leaders and employee engagement. Employees with a low-level of trust are not nearly as engaged as those with high trust in their leaders.

What erodes trust? Bosses not owning up to their mistakes is a huge factor: 89 percent of leaders say that they either always or often apologize for their mistakes, but only 19 percent of employees agree.

43 percent of employees surveyed say that their leaders rarely or never apologize for their errors. The main reason that bosses don’t apologize is that they’re afraid of looking weak and incompetent, but fear of tarnishing their image sacrifices employee trust and loyalty. Employees also named other boss behaviors that erode trust, including:

  • lying,
  • taking credit for others’ ideas,
  • blaming employees unfairly,
  • gossiping, lack of clarity,
  • poor communication.

 Trust is bolstered (and the trust gap narrowed) when leaders take these four steps:

  1. listening to employees and understanding their concerns;
  2. walking the talk—leaders doing as they say;
  3. following through on commitments;
  4. encouraging employees to offers ideas and suggestions and then LISTENING and TAKING ACTION!

Often leaders ask for ideas, suggestions and feedback, but then don’t take any action or even acknowledge the information.  This is worse than not asking at all.  So if you ask, listen and acknowledge, even if the suggestion is not one you can use, take the time to explain why.


Dangers of an Overinflated Ego

Leaders by nature tend to have high ego strength. Ego can aid in self-confidence and perseverance and both can be tremendous aids to leadership success. But there is a down-side to high ego-strength that leaders sometimes don’t recognize until it’s too late.
Effective leaders keep their ego in check regularly to ensure that they can lead and influence successfully.
Leaders who allow their egos to get out of control are not admired, respected, nor trusted by many. Over the years of interfacing with many leaders and teams I have seen egos get in the way of effective leadership. I have also seen previously effective leaders fail when their egos become much bigger than their other leadership capabilities.

The two main ego barriers that prevent leaders from leading successfully are:

1. An inability to be introspective

A leader with an out of control ego lacks the ability to really see their flaws or opportunities that exist in each of us to grow. This weakness results in really bad behaviors – from blaming others for their performance or mistakes, attacking and defensive tactics and a complete lack of reality.

2. An over inflated perception of self-worth

Leaders who have an over inflated perception that they are better than anyone else have lost perspective. This behavior really stems from a complete lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. Unfortunately leaders who suffer from this are either in denial or believe they really can pull this off – which they can’t.

Sometimes it takes just one event to force you to check your ego and recognize your vulnerability. If you’re truly checking your ego this event can humble you instantly and you have a great opportunity to turn things around and become the great leader you can be. But sometimes, unfortunately the ego has been so overinflated for so long, there is no ego check. The energy that could be used to regroup and move forward is spent on blaming others or self-justifying.

So, if you’re reading this make sure to check your ego at the door.


Business Strategy and Results

Think about your business strategy for a few minutes. Have they been designed to achieve top line growth, increase or defend market share. Are you focused on customer satisfaction or is it something else?

Now, ask yourself; Are you satisfied with your results?

We know Company’s like Blockbuster, Sears, Radio Shack and a many other retailers are not satisfied with their results.

All of the above mentioned companies at one time were implementing strategies that worked really well, and then suddenly it seemed like all of their results were off and it was too late.

So as a leader you need to slow down sometimes and take a real close look at the results of your strategies and results. This isn’t hard to do, but most of us don’t do it.

We get busy, or we get distracted and we lose our focus. sometime our priorities get out of alignment … and then the next thing you know, we wonder why we aren’t having the kind of success we thought we would.

By focusing on the results of your strategies you will be able to identify necessary adjustments in execution or modifications to the action plans designed to achieve the expected results. You may also realize that you have the wrong strategy (yikes). Don’t be stubborn – change it.

It’s good to be committed to a strategy … but it’s even better to be good at measuring the results and taking action. Enjoy your leadership journey !