014: Becoming a trustworthy leader and growing a culture of trust

Almost a third of employees don’t trust their employer.

As a leader, choosing to make trust a priority, can increase productivity, commitment to goals.

The flow of ideas, and the early identification of problematic situations increases because communication is becomes viewed as something to be encouraged and acknowledged, instead of feared.

And change becomes much easier. In an ever-changing world, embracing trust as a priority, building it in your team, and embedding it as a principle in your organisation makes your team more comfortable with change – and as change is inevitable at all times – they are more willing to embrace a new vision.

But what can you do to gain your team’s trust, create trust in the first place if it’s completely absent, use your growing emotional intelligence to help eliminate team dysfunction? Ready to stop having all your ideas questioned, or your ideas and decisions undermined?

If you are wondering how to build, or repair trust in your leadership, lets dive into this weeks Leading Women in Tech episode.

Show Notes

Find out more about improving your emotional intelligence:

Episode Eleven: Self-awareness and leadership: https://tonicollis.com/episode11

Episode Twelve: Up-levelling your social awareness to step into high-performance leadership https://tonicollis.com/episode12.

Episode Six: Tempering your temper: https://tonicollis.com/episode6.

If you are ready to uplevel your career and get a boost (and a salary bump) by shortcutting your way to success, find out more about Toni’s Coaching at:


Alternatively, go straight ahead and book a free Discovery Call, to find out more and discuss the type of support you would most benefit from:

Join us in the Leading Women in Tech Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/leadingwomenintech/

Join us in the Leading Women in Tech LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12391391/

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Want to read instead of listen? Here’s the transcript:

Hey hey hey, how are you doing Leading Women in Tech? I hope your week is going splendidly wherever you are in the world. There is a lot to get through in this episode. I’m going to dive straight in. But I do strongly encourage you to grab a pen, paper, your favorite electronic notepad, whatever it is, because I’ve got lots of tips, tricks and ideas this week. Building on all the stuff we’ve been talking about throughout September on self awareness, on emotional intelligence.

We’re going to bring all that together this week as we talk about building trust. Because here’s the thing about trust. Nobody wants to work where they feel constantly unsettled, threatened, that decisions will change every five minutes and feel like they’re second-guessing or pivoting all the time. If you feel like you can’t speak up freely, watch every single word that you speak or that you’re acting that’s your core values, you’re not going to trust the people you’re reporting to.

Now flip that on its head and think about your team. Do they view you as pivoting on your diet ideas? Do they feel they can speak up freely? Do they feel unsettled? Do they feel threatened? Do they feel that you change your mind every five minutes? You might not think so but the real question as we develop self awareness is, is that how you are viewed? Just because you don’t think you do doesn’t mean it isn’t how you’re viewed.

If you’re asking your team to act against their core values, you need to know this. Because when we don’t have trust in our leaders, when your team doesn’t have trust in you as their leader, they lose confidence in themselves. They become less productive, they come focused on self preservation and they feel alone. And when we feel like that, I’m sure that you know this as yourself, if you’ve ever felt alone, if you’ve ever felt that you have to focus entirely on self preservation, on boosting your confidence because there is so much pressure on you that takes away your confidence, you don’t just become less productive, things like imposter syndrome starts skyrocketing. Your confidence plummets.

We’ve done so much work to build those things in both ourselves as leaders and on our team. A little bit of trust damage can do an awful lot of harm here.

Edelman has a Trust Barometer report every year. I’ll put the link to that in the show notes. And the 2020 Trust Barometer shows that almost a third of employees in the tech sector don’t trust their employer. That’s a big scary chunk of the workforce. We cannot ignore the impact. We cannot ignore the impact on productivity on happiness, on the chances of burnout. Burnout is bad for business. I know there are some companies where burnout is almost seen like an acceptable thing. Bring somebody in, burn them out, get rid of them.

When you actually look at the data, it is a terrible thing for business. It is so expensive. And when employees have low trust, they’re more skeptical, they’re more disengaged, they’re less productive. Again, I keep saying that one. And it eventually leads to those imposter syndrome feelings rising, burnout, all the negative stuff. What can you do as a leader to build trust with your employees?

Well, it’s worth going back to basically what is trust? Trust is built on competence and ethics. But it’s an emotional bond. And it works both ways. Somebody can’t trust you if you don’t trust them. It’s not real trust, if that’s the case. And when you have trust in just one direction, it will fall apart inevitably at some point when the person who is trusting, who is interested back realizes it’s a one way commitment. You may well have experienced that. I have experienced that multiple times in my professional career.

I have trusted somebody and then it’s been thrown back in my face. And you end up going to the point where you don’t trust anybody. Everybody has to earn your trust. Most of us got burned pretty early on. Some of us as children, so we’ve never trusted people as adults. I would love the world to be fully trusting but it doesn’t work that way. It’s about embracing the emotional components of human behavior and potential which is why it’s directly related to EQ the topic of the month this September.

And it’s what makes a team more than just the sum of the individuals. When you have great trust, your team becomes a well oiled machine. They work well together, they trust each other. It isn’t just about the trust with you. If you as a leader in charge of a team or even a leader of peers, if you can generate trust in your team, a trust amongst each other, they will start communicating better.

It isn’t just like, “This person does this work, this person does this work.” They communicate better. They identify issues faster because no one person in this day and age knows everything. It’s just impossible. I’m not sure it’s ever been true that one person is doing everything that the human race knows and so on. And so what you need, a great team works well together.

They have great communication. And they will point out to each other without fearing the consequences of things that have been missed, areas for added value, opportunities that haven’t been noticed by one individual, that be noticed by another. But if you don’t have trust, both in you as a leader, but amongst your team, you don’t get that. You don’t get that benefit. When there is trust, your team becomes a multiplicative effect of the individuals involved.

When you have trust in your team, you get more done. And as a bonus, your team as a unit or even if you are the CEO or in the C-Suite, your company builds that trust externally as well. You’re known as a team that is reliable, that delivers on time, on budget, ahead of schedule even and to a higher standard. One of the best ways to accelerate your career is to build a team that works so well, you become known as the team that’s reliable, that gets stuff done, that gets stuff out the door. You get known as a team that does more with less. And that is how you accelerate your career.

It isn’t just about you, you can’t do that all by yourself. There is a limit to how much one person can do. And I’ve seen so many people trying to get ahead in their career by just working their team harder. That does not work. Because if your team is just working crazy hours, they’re going to burn out. And you aren’t actually taking advantage of the multiplicative effect of a really well oiled machine, a team that works so well together, that actually works and amplifies each other’s results.

If you just say, “We have a crazy deadline again like we did last week,” I have worked in such places where every single release which were like every two weeks, there was always crazy amounts of work to do. That is not sustainable and it just builds a level of mistrust because everybody knows they’re going to be burnt out every two weeks. You just don’t work that hard anymore. That is what we have to overcome it to build trust.

If you have that sort of team level, you are damaging productivity. Making people work harder does not build productivity. Building productivity comes from great interpersonal communication, even amongst the introverts.

It’s really worth stepping back a moment and asking yourself, “What is trust?” Well, trust is built on two key things. Competence and ethics. When you have those two things, whether it’s in you as the leader and you’re trying to build trust in you as a leader, whether it’s trusting of your team, you trusting them, external people trusting your team, whether it’s the business comes down to those two components; competence and ethics. When you have those, it provides comfort, stability and you build an emotional bond. Whether you’re building an emotional bond with your peers, with your fellow leaders, with your team, with another company, with a purchaser, with society, you are creating an emotional bond based on competence and ethics.

And by the way, ethics is a much bigger component. It’s more than 50%. When the Edelman Trust Barometer did their latest study, it was shown that ethics has a larger component driver to trust than competence does. Competence is important. But it’s actually a slightly smaller component than the components that add up to competence. Remember that when you’re trying to improve trust, ethical drivers are really, really important.

Here’s the slightly scary thing. That same Trust Barometer found that businesses are viewed as competent at +14 on a scale of -52 to +50, but unethical, -2 on that same scale. NGOs are viewed as more ethical +12, but in less competent, -4. Governments are just not viewed well at all in 2020, -40, on the competence and -19 on the ethics. Not a good thing there. So your business has work to do especially if you’re in C-suite or on the way to the C-suite. Building trust in your business is as important as building trust amongst your team.

Let’s break this down. What is competence? Competence is ability, dependability, and purpose. Whereas ethics is all about integrity. Your ethical drivers, this integrity piece is more important, but there’s more that goes into the competence. For the integrity piece, what society is looking for is CEOs to speak out on issues on sustainability. It’s why more and more businesses are doing things around sustainability are looking at their carbon footprint. I would love to say that they’re doing that because it’s the right thing, but actually they’re doing it because it makes business sense.

If you are heading to the C-suite, you need to start embracing that as part of your messaging. But as a leader of a team, if you’re looking to up-level your leadership within your organization, we’re looking more and more at competence. Your ethics is important. And remember that you aren’t leaving yourself at home. You’re not leaving your morals and obligations at home. Whenever I work with my one on one clients and they’re looking for new jobs, new roles, I always have a conversation with them of where are your ethical red lines? Where are you prepared to go?

I don’t want you taking on a role because somebody suggested it to you. And then six months later, you’re realizing that you crossed an ethical line two months ago, but you were just gently nudged over it and then found yourself well into the red without realizing what went on. As a leader, knowing where your ethical lines are is so incredibly important. Standing firm on them so you don’t get gently nudged over.

The classic one with ethics is gossip, which is a trust issue, by the way, and I’m going to come to it more in a moment. But think about it. It’s very easy to gossip. Somebody else tells you of something, you add a little thing and then suddenly you find yourself full on gossiping and you know that you’re in the red. But you gently got nudged over. And that’s one of those things, ethics and integrity. If you are very clear to yourself that gossiping is a red line which by the way, it absolutely should be, I think that should be a non-negotiable. If gossiping is a red line, you should know well ahead, you should see those sirens blazing as soon as somebody starts gossiping around you.

But I have seen far too many leaders damage trust because trust can go almost instantaneously. It takes months and months of effort to build up. But the damage can be done in minutes. By opening your mouth and doing something like gossiping. So now your red lines, have that integrity. That is your first thing to take away from this.

The next things that are really powerful from that Trust Barometer study, which you can then take to help leverage your trust is that 73% of employees expect opportunity to shape the future of society. And they expect to be included in the planning of it. Yes. You need a business that is helping to make society better. Comes back to ethics and integrity and your team wants to be involved in the planning. This probably shouldn’t shock you. And yet the number of leaders who forget to include their team in all the levels of planning, they just jump a strategy on the table and say, “This is what we’re doing folks. It’s come out of left wing.”

That is just terrible change management by the way. But also employees, to feel invested in the business, to buy in, to work hard, to be productive, to be motivated need to be included in planning and when you include them in the planning, trust builds. So yes, this Trust Barometer is really aimed at businesses, at the high level CEOs and what they should be doing. If you’re a CEO, please take this on board. Absolutely. But it applies to every single leader, whether you’re leading your peers, you’re leading a small team or you’re on the way to a big C-suite position. Trust starts with including people.

And by the way, the technology sector has more rapidly declining trust than any other sector of employment. Over the last decade, it is the only sector which has a decline in trust consistently. That is something that we as technologists need to address. Technology is the future, but it’s big and scary right now. We don’t all understand what AI is being used for. Society talks a lot about technology being abused. Most people don’t understand the majority of tech.

In fact, you could argue that nobody understands the majority of tech because it’s such a broad and diverse thing. It is now so pervasive. We have a lot of work to do to build trust. But to sideline because I’m talking here about really building trust with your team, but do you bear that in mind. Trust in the sector is declining. And when that happens, it’s going to have an impact on your team as well.

As a leader, it’s worth remembering that being trustworthy is about deserving confidence. Doing what you say you will do and being dependable. People have confidence in you, so that people know that they can come to you. So that people know that when you say or do something, you will not just deliver, but your deliver on time and on budget. When you’re not dependable, people will not give you confidence. This applies at every single level of your job and this is a great way to build your executive presence. A lot of people say to me, “I’ve been told to build my executive presence,” and when we dig into it, one of the things is people aren’t confident in the reliability of that person.

Have a look at, are you saying you’ll do what you do on time and to schedule? Not just to the people above you, which a lot of leaders, well, a lot of managers start out doing. They’re very focused on delivering to the people above them because those are the decision makers that are in power. But they’re letting their team down.

They’ll say to the team, “Yes, I’ll get that back to you tomorrow.” And then they don’t. By the way, been there, done the T-shirt, totally been there. Over promising and under delivering to your team is actually longterm far more damaging than doing that to the people above you. The people above you know that you’re learning if you’re new to your job. Don’t get me wrong, we need to fix that ASAP. But the damage you’re doing by not delivering to your team, especially if you do it more than once is much harder to fix.

Because they are less forgiving. They’re seeing somebody who has been brought in to run this team just being promoted, whatever it is and they’re like, “You made the case for this, I wanted that job.” Or whatever the general feeling is. They want you to step up and do it. Also, if you are under-delivering to your team, you’re holding them up. That means everything becomes stuck. One of the things I talk about a lot is learning to operate at the right level. And the classic as we get promoted is holding on to the work that we did earlier on in our careers. Especially if you’ve come from a very technical role, you’ve been promoted into more management and with that less technical is the work.

But we feel like we’re only doing real work when we are doing the technical work. For me, it was programming. I felt that I had to be programming and that management wasn’t real work. But what that meant is I held on to technical work that held up the rest of my team. And quite frankly, it was unfair to my team, not just because I held them up, but because it sent a message of distrust, that I had to be the one doing the highly technical stuff. That doesn’t work. It absolutely doesn’t scale.

And it’s a level of mistrust. When you get promoted, it’s because of what you’re going to do next, not what you did to get there. And so be the person who recognizes the need to delegate. Recognize that management takes time and is a skill and isn’t something you just add on. You do not just add more hours onto your day. So many people will tell me that they don’t want to go from motion because they’re going to have to work harder and longer. You’re going to have to work differently, you shouldn’t be working longer and harder, because you need brain space to do the strategic thinking that comes from senior levels.

You need to balance the needs for results with how you need to operate. It’s worth bearing in mind that you need to balance the results with the consideration of others and their feelings as well. Like I said, you cannot be like, “We just need to get this stuff done people. Get it out of the door already.” No, that doesn’t work either. You can get away with that once or twice maybe. But getting people to work hard to deliver something because you over-promised, that damages trust. Also, working hard to win other people over can backfire because you can’t maintain that.

You need to find an area that you’re happy to work at, a level of productivity you’re happy to work at. You then need to improve your productivity by improving the level of outcomes, not the number of hours you work. You need to be respectful of ideas and perspectives that come to you. And you need to really make sure that your words and actions match up. Not just some of the time, but all of the time.

We can create just a mechanical form of trust. And that’s done by just taking actions and being consistent. Doing what you say you will do. Showing up when you say you’re going to show up, working hard in the right way at the right time. Not asking for too much. Ensuring that your words and actions match, that you don’t contradict yourself, which by the way, is very easy to do. Most people contradict themselves. That’s actually a relatively simple thing to do. Good leaders can relatively simply achieve that mechanical form of trust.

To be a great leader, you have to elevate the emotional aspects of work in the human being. You have to really understand the people around you. You have to understand not just that reciprocal action, repeated action is needed, what is going on underneath and that person in front of you. You have to turn on that emotional intelligence and it is something that you have to actively work out if you haven’t heard that enough yet.

Go back and listen to Episode 11 and Episode 12 where we talk all about emotional intelligence and the fact that this is something you have to develop. And the moment you stop developing it, the moment it goes. It’s a muscle. You can let it atrophy if you don’t turn it on. But to really elevate into a great trusted leader, you need to learn some of the emotional aspects at play in the people around you.

Recognize that building trust takes hard work and time and is earned. Don’t expect to walk into a new role and have immediate trust. It’s quite so much harder at the beginning. Whenever you change jobs, it isn’t just that you’re learning the new stuff, it’s the fact that everybody’s like, “Well, why did they get it? Why not that person? Why not me? I don’t understand. Why do they get it? When you get promoted, it’s the same thing. There’s a level of trust that has to be built and then earned.

And here’s the skipper in this one, it can be destroyed in minutes. To build this emotional trust, it’s time to start really working on being open, honest and supportive. When you can build those things, your credibility goes up. You want to be open to criticism, you want to be open to ideas, you want to take them on board. You want to involve people in the planning.

With the honesty piece, you need to say, “Hey, I got that wrong.” You need to take ownership of problems, ownership of your problems, ownership of your team’s problems. If you’re a manager, let’s not pass the blame. That doesn’t work. You own your team’s work. That’s one of the reasons you’re being paid or you’re being paid. If you don’t want that level of responsibility, don’t step up into a management role.

Honesty breeds trust. Transparency comes hand in hand with that. I have seen so many leaders, I would say managers at that point, fall down because they are so determined to not share. And their team spends all their time guessing what’s coming down the line, guessing what they’re not being told. Gossip is a thing. I really don’t want you to be involved in gossip, but it’s there. It’s a human trait. It is what it is. People will know about stuff going on in your organization. If it doesn’t come from you, it gets twisted, it gets turned, it becomes something else. People decide that you’re hiding stuff from them.

So start being honest. Yes, there are secrets. Secrets is maybe the wrong word. But there are things that you shouldn’t be sharing with everybody. But they should be the exception and not the norm. I have… I think I’ve talked about this before, but I have worked for people where I have had bosses say to me, “Yeah, we just don’t want the team to worry about this right now. They’ll get distracted.” And what was happening instead is that the team was distracted because they knew something was coming.

Be open and honest and explain to people what’s coming down the line and they will be able to focus better. Give them credit, they’re not stupid. Give them credit for their ability to work through things. But if they know there’s something you’re not telling them, they can tell, believe me. The next one is the supportiveness. Your team needs you there to support them to deal with the difficult situations. To deal with the bad days, the days when things are just going wrong. I think that work on. Yes, their personal life, they are a whole human being.

And the idea that we just can turn up to work and pretend not to be the person we left at home is just not valid and not true. And the quicker you are as a leader to accept that, the better. You will have to have difficult conversations. You will hear from people that they have health issues, that they’ve broken up with a partner, that they’ve lost a loved one. Do not be the manager who is unable to have those conversations.

I’ve had some of the most difficult conversations with my bosses. I have cried in front of them about personal things. I have turned my whole self up to work. The people that I then pulled everything out for are the ones that supported me through my difficult times. Because yes, we have bad times. Yes, we have things at home. If you can support your team to get through personal crises, their loyalty, their trust in you will skyrocket and they will be there when nobody else is. It builds your credibility.

The next one is to be quiet sometimes, to actively listen and to observe. This is something I’ve had to learn. Anybody that knows me knows I’m a bit of a talker even though I’m an introvert. But here’s the thing. To really be a great leader, you need to be observing and listening and taking in what is going on around you. People will do things that give you insights into what’s really going on, into upsets, into situations and they won’t necessarily vocalize them. And sometimes, you just need to be quiet so that people have the chance to listen.

As a manager, it’s very easy to spend all your time just saying, “Do this, do that, do the other. Here are the priorities. Here’s why.” Give your team the chance to come back to you. Learn how to be quiet. Learn how to moderate team discussions so that everybody gets a word in edgeways.

And the next one, consistency. All of this stuff needs to be done consistently. And all of our actions need to be consistent. Do not be the unpredictable person. Don’t be the person who has the reputation for what we don’t know when they’re going to spontaneously combust. Yes, we’ve all had bosses like that. Have you ever asked whether or not you’re that boss? All those bosses, I almost certainly expect do not know that they’re that person. That everybody else goes, “Well, I’m not taking it to that leader, that manager,” because you don’t know what their answer is going to be. You don’t know if that’s going to make them spontaneously combust today.

I need to pick the right day of the week or “You know what? I’m just not going to tell them.” You do not want to be that boss. But those bosses very rarely know that they’re like that. We need to work on this self awareness piece. Do you lose your temper? Do you deliberately lose your temper? I truly hope not. It never works. I could do a whole episode on why deliberately losing your temper doesn’t work. But go and listen to the episode on tempering your temper, I will put that link in the show notes as well.

It’s really important that you have consistent not just in your actions, but in your responses to situations. Remember, model the behavior you seek. This is why mentors are so powerful for you. Surround yourself with the people that you want to be, that you want to emulate, that you want to receive and you will start picking up on that. Again, it’s one of the reasons to get a coach because they will help call you out on some of this stuff. But you also just need to surround yourself by people that you think yes, this is the kind of person I want to be. This is the kind of way they operate. And you will start seeing the things in yourself that you don’t like when you do that.

Build an accountability. Build an accountability for yourself but also for your team. Don’t make it comes as a surprise when something goes wrong and you come down on them like a ton of bricks. Building accountability checks as you go along, do not make this a thing that just happens once a year or the end of a project. It’s why annual reviews and appraisals are so damaging. They detract, they’ve removed trust, because it’s one of those things that you kind of know deep down, it’s going to be filed in your HR record and used against you when they need it.

You don’t want that kind of thing. So you want regular accountability or regular check ins, regular performance evaluations, if that’s what you’re needing. I actually think performance evaluations don’t really work because it’s almost always feels an excuse to put somebody on a performance management situation to coach them out or get them out of the business. I don’t think that personally works. Sometimes it’s needed if you need to get rid of somebody, but actually, it’s just a slow fire way to do that. Not a great approach in my opinion. There are better ways which I can talk about in another episode if you’re interested. But you want to build an accountability, checks and balances that are regular and not surprises.

Also, remember that you want to focus not just on profit if you’re the CEO in the C-suite, but also on the pathways if you’re a team, the personal development roadmaps, career ladders. You want to talk about societal issues and impact of the things that your organization’s doing. You need to have that as part of what you talk about. If you’re a team leader, this still applies. You aren’t just talking about profit or in your team, the actual thing that is profit.

Yes, you need to talk about ROI when you’re talking to the C-suite, when you’re trying to explain what you’re doing. But with your team, you need to be focused on how they’re operating, their productivity and then talk about career pathways and talk about their development, talk about their careers. People very rarely just want to stay still. And more often than not, when somebody’s saying to me, “I just want to stay in this position for the rest of my career.” It’s because they aren’t actually enjoying what they’re doing and they just view it as a way to bring money in.

If you could find a way for that person to get lit up, even if it’s in a different job, you would get somebody more productive or they would be more productive. Because at the end of the day, our jobs and the majority of what we do in current life, until we’ve moved to a work week that’s worth far less time than the current one, your job is the majority of the hours you spend. You want all of your team to really love what they do, to feel that they are valued, to feel that they’re contributing, which is why it’s important to talk about the societal issues and impact.

Have meaningful conversations. And acknowledge that work and life are mixed together. Whatever stage of leadership you’re at, know how you sit and value things and be prepared to talk about them. The idea that we shouldn’t talk about politics is just not valid. It is such an important part of who we are. It’s got to be taken in context and you don’t want to ostracize people. But know your value system. That isn’t like, “I will vote for this political person, this political party.” But know your value system, know your politics with a lowercase P and know where you sit.

And don’t be afraid to talk about those values. That will attract people. And when you attract a team that really works and also you can attract people who are engaged in the same T, but there’s another way. And when we bring both of those sets of ideas together, that is amazing. When you are open to being challenged, because you say to people, “This is who I am. But I know I don’t know everything because nobody does.” You attract people who will say to you, “Hey. Me too. Let’s have a chat because I have a different approach here.” And when two people like that come together, something truly exciting happens. But to be that person, you have to turn up as your whole self. I’m not saying talk about everything other than work at work but I am saying have meaningful conversations and acknowledge that people are a mixture of personal and professional.

Next one, a big, big one is empowering others. You have to remember that people really appreciate feeling that they get ownership of something. Ownership of results, ownership of outcomes, not just a task, they don’t want to just be told, “Go off and do that thing and come back to me and I’m going to micromanage you.” Empower them to make decisions. Empower them to own a sector of your strategy. Empower them to contribute to something more senior in the discussions.

Remember that by doing that, you are building trust. You need to get behind them to empower them. You need to say, “I’m owning the decision you just made.” And that builds further confidence and further trust. And when you do that, they will also have confidence in your decisions. They will know that you are on their side. And so they’re more likely to do what you ask them to do when you really need it. You won’t have to justify to them, they won’t always be questioning you and saying, “I don’t know why you’re doing that.” And instead, they will believe in what you’re asking of them.

It’s also worth remembering that we can do all this stuff, we can really feel like we’ve got it, but then we can do some things that really undermine our actions. Remember, if you have a disconnect between your words and your actions, you will come across as untrustworthy. Okay. So a couple of examples here. The first one is blatant lying or gossip. Why I said you need to know where your lines are, it is very easy to accidentally step over a line.

Make sure that you live by your ethical standards. If you know that you do not like that, if you’re a manager, please do not lie. Please do not trust. I think that should be a given. But my goodness me, I’ve seen this happen over and over again. It’s a very easy line to step into. Really ask yourself are you doing that? And get firm on that line. Do not go there. There are tactics, techniques to help deal with other people gossiping and definitely with other people lying. But make sure that you do not fall into the trap of somebody else’s gossiping or just join in.

It never works. And it provides a disconnect between your words and your actions which damages trust almost instantaneously. The other one is coming across as reserved, which can then become as secretive, it might seem that other people might think that you’re a snob, that you have some sort of personal agenda.

In general, people will start thinking the worst. That’s what we do. It’s one of the reasons we have impostor syndrome. We think the worst of a situation that nobody else is. If you come across as reserved or secretive, it can very easily backfire. It’s one of those moments to ask yourself, “How do I actually come across? Do I come across as open and honest or do I come across as overly reserved?”

I don’t mean reserved in the sense of showing all of your emotions at work. But one of the things with executive presence is actually learning to leave some of the emotional stuff at the door and turning up in a calm and collected manner. That level of reservation, I almost don’t view that as being reserved but that sort of reserve which some people would call it is necessary. It provides stability. It stops you coming across as having extreme behaviors, or over-reactions to challenges in high pressure situations.

But it can, if you are always reserved, you never show up as yourself. You’re always holding everything back. You come across as a bit of a snob or with an agenda or something worse. So just have a look at yourself there. How are you coming across even if it’s not your intention? I’m almost sure it’s not your intention, but remember, we are developing self awareness here so get a good look at yourself.

If you also minimize social interactions, especially if you’re an extreme introvert, depending on how your introvertism plays out here, this can come across as standoffish and can easily lead to misunderstandings and conflict. As a leader, social interactions are really important. You need to develop a way that works for you. That is something I do with all of my clients. There is no one size fits all. I can’t tell you how to do that. But you do need to be okay with social interactions.

Now, I am not a fan of social interactions. I used to be that person at networking events who would go and hide in the corner and just have a glass of wine. And that was definitely me. And I’ve realized, it’s not actually a good thing. If I’m going to go to such events, I have to engage. There are ways to do it. So it feels okay with you. If you’re an indirect, yes, it’s going to be hard work but it gets easier with practice, I promise.

Not explaining what you’re doing is another classic way that there’s a disconnect between words and actions. If you feel like, “Oh, but I don’t need to explain this, it’s obvious,” or, “they don’t need to know,” or, “the topic doesn’t deserve the time.” and especially if you shut down discussions and meetings. If people are wanting to have a discussion, I know it can be super frustrating. You’ve got somebody go over and over and over these stuff, super frustrating.

But if you do this all the time and especially if you do one or two people, or if it’s done to everybody, it’s not just like one person this week, and then one person a month later, that you can get away with. But if there’s a consistency feeling of you’re not explaining stuff, which you can identify by, somebody always asking questions. You have to shut conversations down regularly, you are damaging trust. You aren’t making them feel heard. You’re not giving them the opportunity to understand what’s really going on. Whatever that is, whether it’s an understanding from a technical point of view or from a motivational point of view.

Don’t shut it down. Give it the time that they need. They need that in order to take action. If you can’t do it, get somebody else to do it for you. It doesn’t have to come from you. It is better if it comes from you as a leader. Have a private discussion. If there’s one person who always needs more. Try and figure out what’s going on. What is it that means that they always need more and how can you support them? There could be something else going on there. So take the time.

Changing your behavior, depending on your audience can come across as really unauthentic and again, disconnect between words and actions. There is a difference between your inner talk and your outer talk. Your inner talk is with your team. Use jargon, use lingo. You can talk about deadlines, you can talk about issues. And then your outer talk is how you talk to other people. So you talk to the C-Suite in a particular way. Throwing jargon from within your team in the C suite is a really sure fine way to not get ahead in your career. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is saying, “Everything’s going splendid around here,” when everything’s actually not so good.

When you come across on that level of in inauthenticity, you do have to be cautious, you don’t want the whole world to know necessarily that things aren’t going wonderfully. But you do want your team to understand things, but don’t have this complete character swap depending on the audience in front of you. I have seen people completely change their behavior depending on who they’re talking to. They will talk in a really kind of horrible, nasty way to their team, put them in front of the C-suite and they’re just like these little slimy and sucking up things. It’s horrible to watch. I’m sure you’ve seen somebody like that. There are plenty of them out there. What we’re looking for is that kind of behavior. Again, really hard to notice in yourself. So have a moment to self reflect.

Another classic one to look out for here is feelings of arrogance. It is very easy to fall into some level of superiority even if you have imposter syndrome by the way. You can switch between the two and it’s quite a strange juxtaposition. One moment, you’ve got imposter syndrome, the next minute you’re like, “Of course, I know more than everybody else.” That’s kind of normal. But when that comes across all the time, you have poor self awareness around it and it falls into a position of being unwilling to learn and grow, it really damages trust. Again, have a good look.

Remember, your character is super important. You need to be actively listening. You need to watch out for communication breakdown and tackle that before it happens or before it gets worse. You need to create safe space where you admit mistakes. Other people can make mistakes, you accept criticism. Kind criticism can be given. All of that will create an essence of psychological safety in your team, but if it’s one person always giving and one person never receiving no forgiveness, you will not help your employees achieve the goals you want. Instead, they will be hindering you.

Gosh. There was a lot of information in that episode. We are going to come to Leadership Mindset Moment in a moment which is going to be super fast. But if this is something that you are struggling with and you really want to work on and you want somebody to love and equal you out, then that’s what I do. Don’t forget that I only have a couple of spaces available this year.

I’m now onto my waiting list and that will be closing shortly. Not only am I filling up all my spaces and my program right now, the wait list is filling up for the rest of 2020. If you want to work with me this year and then my prices by the way are going up in 2021. If you want to work with me this year, head over to tonicollis.com/workwithtoni, have a look at my coaching program or just head on a discovery call. It’s a zero obligation. We just have a good chat, see if we’re a good fit for each other. You can go and book that straight away with a bit.ly/discovertoni and I will be delighted to help you work through any of this stuff that we’re talking about.

The emotional intelligence piece is something very dear to my heart because this is what really creates standout leaders. So this is something you’re liKe, “This is what I need to work on.” And it goes hand in hand with executive presence by the way, then I would love to have a chat with you. And don’t forget that whenever you start, even if you go on my wait list to start in later this year, you get held at the price you start at. So we’ve now put my prices up in January. You’ll get my 2020 price.

Okay, let’s finish up with a leadership mindset moment. In case you’re new around here, a leadership mindset movement is an actionable tip to help adjust how you act or think to make it easier to uplevel. Today, it’s really again about posing so we can create consistency. I want you to look at consistency because you must do what you say to really build trust. A simple task to do here is just to take 30 seconds, we’ll go through the commitments you made in the last two weeks.

What did you promise? What did you say you would do? What did you say you would turn up for? What meetings did you say you would organize? What did you say you would follow through on? Did you keep all of those promises you made? Did you sidestep anything? Did you make excuses? You’re being honest with yourself here. You don’t have to tell anybody else this. I want you to be brutally honest with yourself. Did you make excuses? Did you sidestep a commitment you made?

Did you let down your children? Did you say, “Yes, I’ll be there for the recital.” And then not make it? I want you to have a look at the commitments you made. And whether you were consistent because remember, consistency is key. You must do what you say you will do. And yes, this applies to your family too. One of the things I love about leadership coaching is that it improves your relationships with not just your coworkers, but with your loved ones and with your friends.

You become a better human being as you step into high performance leadership. I want you to really make a commitment. If you’ve look at all your commitments for the last two weeks, and you can be 100% that you were full on committed, you didn’t let anybody down, you didn’t sidestep, you didn’t make an excuse, even if it was like, “Yeah, totally sure. I understand that.” You’re doing great. If there’s anything that you’re like, “Well, I did sort of get out of that one.” I want you to ask what could you have done differently?

Could you have said no to more things? What could you have done to have allowed yourself to deliver on everything you promised? And what I do not want you to saying is, “Well, I should have worked harder.” No, no, no, no, no. I want you to work smarter, not harder. I want you to get comfortable with saying no more often.

Remember, you don’t have to be perfect at all behaviors for trust, but you need to be good at them and you need, more than anything, to be willing to develop and learn. That’s really what trust comes down to. A willingness to listen, develop and learn.

That’s all for today’s episode. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s podcast. If you want to check out the show notes including links to some other episodes I mentioned, then head over to your favorite podcast player or to tonicollis.com/episode14. And don’t forget, if you love this, write me a review. Give me some stars and write me a review and you might just win a free coaching session next month.

I’ll be back next week as always in your earbuds until next time. Remember to stay on your tech leadership game. Follow your dreams because the route really does need that uniqueness that you bring as a leading woman in tech.

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