16 Ways Leaders Kill Trust

Cracked cement symbolizing broken trust between people or parties
This is a guest post by friend, executive and mentor Bruce Rhoades, who retired after having run several companies. He often helps me with strategy. I am delighted that he is a regular contributor. Follow him on Twitter.

 

How to Kill Trust

Trust—so hard to gain, yet so easy to lose! Trust is an important part of any relationship, but it is the foundation for successful leadership. Without trust, leadership is simply hollow. There has been a lot written about the importance of trust and how to build trust with others. However, what many leaders do not realize is that trust is often undermined, or even lost, through simple behaviors. After paying so much attention to ways to gain trust, it is often lost inadvertently.

There are many ways that a leader can kill trust. Most are behaviors or actions and not overt statements. It is rare that a leader simply states, “I do not trust you” to someone. Yet, it is quite common that a leader will kill trust with one or more of the following behaviors.

 

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” –Warren Buffett

 

16 Trust-killing Behaviors to Avoid

 

Delegate tasks, not problems:  When delegating, provide a strict framework and task list while telling them exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. By not providing others with the opportunity to help solve a problem or shape an initiative, it sends a message that they are not trusted and do not have the confidence of the leader.

 

Leadership Tip: Delegate the problem and let the team shape the initiative.

 

Micromanage:  Constantly ask for updates, status and progress while dictating more about how to do the task. React strongly if there is any issue or problem. Second-guess any decisions or actions during the project. Constantly ask if they remembered to do something or if they are working on something. If something needs to be corrected, say, “I’ll take care of that” or have some else do it. By not demonstrating any confidence in a team member to complete an assignment, trust will be damaged.

 

“The ability to influence a leader is at the heart of feeling trusted.” –Bruce Rhoades

 

Never ask their opinion:  Do not ask for input on an assignment; just dictate what to do. Discount what team members are saying, especially while they are talking. Require more justification with greater detail than expected of others – especially in public. Do not allow them to influence you. The ability to influence a leader is at the heart of feeling trusted. When influence is denied, trust is eroded.

 

Criticize in public:  Point out mistakes and/or belittle others in public. Constantly point out mistakes and never tell them what they are doing right. Bring up past mistakes often. Public criticism not only belittles the team member, but it makes the leader look small-minded. Others on the team will also begin to wonder if the leader can be trusted.

How to Spot the Telltale Signs of a Lie

 

How do you know if you are being deceived?

Do you want to know when someone is lying to you?

 

“Lie spotters are armed with scientific knowledge on how to spot deception.” –Pamela Meyer

 

Pamela Meyer will help you spot a liar. She’s the author of Liespotting and a Certified Fraud Examiner.

 

Surprising Facts about Lies

Some interesting facts about lies:

  • We lie more to strangers than to our coworkers.
  • Extroverts lie more than introverts.
  • We learn to lie as babies by faking cries for attention.
  • The more intelligent the species, the more they are apt to lie.
  • We are lied to on average between 10 and 200 times per day.

Pamela tells one particular story that grabbed my attention. Koko, a gorilla, loved cats and was given a kitten. On one particularly destructive day, Koko managed to rip her sink right out of the wall. When asked about it, Koko signed to her humans that the kitten had done it. Amazing.

 

“The essence of lying is in deception, not words.” –John Ruskin

 

The Telltale Signs of a Lie

What are some telltale signs of a liar?

Meyer touches on some patterns of deception including verbal dodging and body language slips.

Verbal dodging includes:

  • repeating the question
  • telling a story in strict chronological order
  • offering irrelevant details

But lies are not only verbal; we can have body language slips. Meyer explains that liars:

  • chatter with their fingertips
  • shrug their shoulders
  • freeze their upper bodies
  • say yes and shake their head no
  • shift their blinking rate
  • give an overabundance of eye contact
  • show a smug smirk on their face when lying (which she calls duping delight)
  • point feet to the exit
  • place barrier objects between them and the interviewer

And a cautionary note. Most of us may read the book or watch the video, but that likely doesn’t qualify us to know for “certain.” Be careful when making your own conclusions.

Still, it was a fascinating view into a world I knew little about. These signs are not proof of deception, per se, but she says to watch when you see clusters of them appearing together.

 

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” –George Orwell

 

Interested in learning more on how to spot a liar? Check out Meyer’s book Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception.

 

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The Power of Truth Telling At Work

Do you have a personal pit crew to fuel your career?

Is it possible to take worry-free, unplugged vacations?

Would you rate your peer relationships as outstanding?

 

Mindy Mackenzie is a speaker and advisor who has served as the Chief Performance Officer of Beam, Inc. She has served in various senior HR leadership and organizational development roles at Jim Beam, Walmart and Campbell Soup Company. Her new book, The Courage Solution: The Power of Truth Telling with Your Boss, Peers, and Team, is filled with practical advice and tips to improve communication with your colleagues.

Mindy’s perspective provides a roadmap for success in relationships at work. I recently asked her to talk about her current work.

 

“Peace is possible, truth at all costs.” -Martin Luther

 

A Crisis of Truth

Courage SolutionYou see a crisis in the corporate world that’s rooted in a lack of courage and truth telling. Tell us more about that and the rationale behind your new book.

I wrote this book in answer to a crisis. And the crisis, from my experience, is that the thing that companies and individuals need most they often get least – and that’s the truth. And I saw it again and again and again even though I worked for three fantastic companies (Walmart, Campbell Soup and Jim Beam). So there was this crisis. The crisis was the absence of truth. Why? Because people didn’t have the courage to tell it. People were afraid of the consequences. So I wrote this book to show them how to tell the truth diplomatically but effectively. I learned that myself through trial and error to the point that I earned the nickname the Velvet Hammer.

 

“Live truth instead of professing it.” -Elbert Hubbard

 

Is “truth telling” getting more difficult these days?

Truth telling is always challenging because people like to be liked and agreed with. And telling the truth many times runs counter to that – so you have to know how to do it right. But let me pan back for a moment and make a broad statement. I think truth is the commodity in shortest supply in the corporate world, and it may be the most essential commodity of all. Why don’t people tell the truth? They are afraid of the consequences. I wrote this book to cure them of that fear. Because without the truth, no company or individual can survive, let alone thrive.

 

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” -Thomas Jefferson

 

Why You Need a Personal Pit Crew

What’s a personal pit crew and why do you recommend one?

A pit crew is an external group of people committed to your success in your work and in your life. The analogy to a race car driver is apt because while they are driving the car, they have an entire team of people dedicated to helping them stay on the track going as fast as possible. Same with navigating a career. Going it alone is a bad strategy. You need to have a small group of people you trust and respect that you can go to for advice, support and practical help. The most successful business professionals I know all have their own pit crews, even if they don’t label it that.

 

Career Tip: Have a pit crew, a team dedicated to helping you stay on track.

 

Name It to Claim It

Would you share more about your advice “name it to claim it?”

If you want to achieve something or advance in your career, it helps immeasurably to be clear about your destination. Spending the time to get clear and know what you want and why is a massive accelerator to attaining it. That’s the “naming it” part. So when you are asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” for example, you will have a ready, well-thought-out answer. When you know what you want, you can then engage others in helping you to get there. To claim it.

 

Take Worry Free Vacations

Many people will read your chapter on vacations and say, “Worry-free, relaxing, unplugged vacation? Impossible!” How do you respond to those who say it’s impossible?

I say it only feels impossible because you’ve never done it and likely have never seen anyone around you do it. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible for you – it just means it is scary, uncomfortable and foreign. But if you want the big pay-off – which is to truly relax, refresh your energy and perspective, have unfettered fun (which is aided by not having any responsibilities) and come back to work feeling great – then you choose to be courageous and work through your discomfort. Taking the steps laid out in the chapter really work. You just have to be brave enough to try.

 

“Truth is so rare that it is delightful to tell it.” -Emily Dickinson

 

Develop Extraordinary Relationships