How Transparency Can Transform Your Results

Trust

Every year, Gallup publishes a survey listing the most-to-least trusted professions. As you might guess, bringing up the bottom of the list are members of Congress – and car sales people. Todd Caponi, a self-professed nerd for sales methodology, had a revelation that he felt so passionately about that he left his role as a chief revenue officer of a high-flying tech company to write about it.

In his book, The Transparency Sale: How Unexpected Honesty and Understanding the Buying Brain Can Transform Your Results, he outlines how honesty, authenticity and leading with your product’s flaws actually is an evolution coming to the world of sales – which could mean a new perception of the profession.

It’s a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Service-oriented leaders will celebrate Todd’s approach to honesty and transparency. Not only did I enjoy his philosophy, I was pleased to see a common friend, Jeff Rohrs, was one of the earliest supporters of the book. That grabbed my attention even more.

I asked Todd to discuss how using unexpected honesty and understanding the buying brain will change the profession for the better.

 

“Transparency is the risk, authenticity the currency, and trust is the reward.” -Dr. Mani

 

How Sales Has Changed

How has sales changed with the advent of the internet, email marketing, and changing consumer expectations?

Since the beginning of time, buyers have sought answers to their brain’s desire to predict what their experience is going to be when making an unfamiliar purchase. “Will this wheel help me move my stuff more effectively, and is it worth the cost of three chickens?” “Will this sliced bread machine save me enough time to make up for the price I’m paying in terms of dollars and potential lost fingers?” For uncounted years, the primary source of information for a buyer to satisfy their predictive need was provided by the individual and company selling the products themselves.

Beginning with the advent of the Information Age in the mid 1970’s, followed by the Digital Age in the 1990’s, the way sellers provide value to buyers in their quest to predict their experience changed dramatically. Buyers now had other sources to gather information, so their expectations changed – simply because they were now better armed. With the digital age, buyers could now self-diagnose their pains and self-prescribe the solution to those pains without the aid of sellers. The good news is that human beings are not great at self-diagnosis and self-prescription. This is why websites like WebMD did not put doctors out of business, and why the internet has not and will not put sellers out of business either. In each case, it required a professional evolution, and those evolutions are not stopping.

 

“Transparency sells better than perfection.” -Todd Caponi

 

The Importance of Online Reviews

Trust: How to Rebuild Brand Authenticity

trust

Trust.

It seems the days are gone when we trust easily. From individuals to organizations, our trust seems to be declining with each passing year.

And yet organizations build their brands on trust.

In his newly released book, The Post-Truth Business:  How to Rebuild Brand Authenticity in a Distrusting World, researcher and strategist Sean Pillot de Chenecey shares what brands need to do to have authentic, long-lasting relationships with their consumers in an age of fake news, privacy issues, and the search for truth.

 

The Number One Issue Facing Brands

Your view on the importance of trust is clear from the very first page where you say, “Trust is the number one issue facing brands on a global basis.” What leads you to this conclusion? How is this different than years ago? 

Around the world, brand foundations are being shaken. It’s apparent that many brand-consumer relationships are on rocky ground, and something fundamental needs to change.

According to The Economist, “Consumer trust is the basis of all brand values, and therefore brands have an immense incentive to retain it.” And as that immensely powerful business-figurehead Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, stated so succinctly, “Once you have trust, the rest is easy.” However, these statements are set against a harsh reality illuminated by a much-cited industry report from the Havas agency, which noted that, “Much of the trust, respect and loyalty people had for many brands has disintegrated. You see it in the level of cynicism, skepticism and indifference that people have towards them.”

Company strategists are finally realizing that consumers are increasingly judging brands by how they actually behave, as opposed to simply believing the stories they tell. Thus, their brand credibility needs to be based on fact, not fiction. Businesses want to have strong and long-lasting relationships with their consumers. That brand-consumer relationship is built on trust, but in a post-truth world, brands are faced with a serious challenge: so much of modern life is defined by mistrust. So, for brands today, trust and truth are the most important games in town.

 

“Once you have trust, the rest is easy.” -Jack Ma

 

How to Build Trust

Share a few of the principles organizations should use to build trust.

To act as a reference guide for the leaders of ‘good businesses,’ I’ve collated the key learnings into a ‘Post-Truth Brand Manifesto.’ Here is a very brief summary of it…

Be authentic.

Truly authentic companies that want to earn and keep our trust have to ‘live it like they say it’ and dovetail brand intentions with the consumer reality. Because from a customer point of view, behavior is what builds brand credibility and corporate integrity, not merely the advertising stories that a brand may choose to tell.

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.

20 Ways to Detect a Deceitful Leader

This is a guest post by friend 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.

Detecting Deceitful Leaders

Have you ever had an uneasy feeling that a leader is not as genuine or sincere as you would expect? There are numerous signals and behaviors that distinguish a genuine leader from someone who is simply trying to achieve a personal—perhaps deceitful—agenda. If you observe carefully, you can find what is causing the uneasy feeling.

Listed in the following comparison are ways to distinguish between genuine leadership and a person in a leadership position who has hidden motives. Some behaviors are stated in the extreme— just to emphasize the point. Deceitful leaders are also very good at what they do, so observe them closely.

 

“Behaviors can distinguish a deceitful leader from a genuine leader.” -Bruce Rhoades

 

 

Comparison: True Leaders and Deceitful Leaders

 

  1. Leaders bring people together for common goals. Deceitful Leaders divide people and focus on narrow issues that may be part of an unstated, deceitful goal.

“Leaders bring people together for common goals.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders encourage open, direct communication. Deceitful Leaders display a low tolerance for open communication. They control information.

“Leaders encourage open, direct communication.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders solicit and consider opposing views and positions. Deceitful Leaders exhibit little tolerance for opposing views. They may reject opposing views or ideas without consideration and limit debate.

“Leaders solicit and consider opposing views.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders use larger goals to energize and unite people. Deceitful Leaders use divisive, negative characterization of issues and groups to energize followers.


“Leaders use larger goals to energize and unite people.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders are transparent, have an open agenda and stated purposes. Deceitful Leaders carefully manage issues and what people hear. They often have a hidden agenda.


“Deceitful leaders carefully manage issues and what people hear.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders stick to values, principles and ethical guidelines. Deceitful Leaders will use the “end justifies the means” to achieve objectives.


“Leaders stick to values, principles and ethical guidelines.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders listen attentively. Deceitful Leaders talk more than listen. They occasionally shout or “preach.”


“Leaders listen attentively.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders show respect for each individual. Deceitful Leaders respect only those who are like-minded and disenfranchise those who are not like-minded.


“Deceitful leaders respect only those who are like-minded.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders want individuals to thrive and work from principles and values. They encourage individual initiative. Deceitful Leaders want control and dutiful obedience; “punishing” those who are “out of line.”   Individual initiative is rarely appreciated.


“Leaders want individuals to thrive and work from principles and values.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders use facts and logic. Deceitful Leaders use emotions (with bias toward negative ones).


“Leaders use facts and logic.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders share data and influence with clearly stated facts, options and conclusions. Deceitful Leaders state conclusions and positions with limited substance and fact. They may use charged rhetoric or misleading data.


“Deceitful leaders use charged rhetoric and misleading data.” -Bruce Rhoades

How Leading From the Heart Will Change Your Organization

From the Heart

Think about the leaders you respect and admire. Chances are they distinguished themselves because they led with and from the heart. Heart-led leadership is the subject of Tommy Spaulding’s new book The Heart-Led Leader: How Living and Leading from the Heart Will Change Your Organization and Your Life. Tommy is the founder of Spaulding Companies, a leadership-development consulting firm based in Denver. He previously wrote It’s Not Just Who You Know. After reading and thoroughly enjoying his books, I had the opportunity to ask him some questions about his work in this area.

 

“Success is about building hearts, not resumes.” -Tommy Spaulding

 

How Heart-Led Leaders Are Different

What distinguishes a heart-led leader?

A heart-led leader serves others. They epitomize servant leadership. They are humble. They are genuine and sincere. They are transparent and vulnerable. They measure success not just on spreadsheets but on the amount of impact they (and their organizations) have on others. They believe love and results are two sides of the same coin.

Why do heart-led leaders produce better results?

For years we looked at servant leadership as a worthy leadership style that is beneficial to organizational culture but not necessarily tied to bottom-line results. Heart-Led Leaders are obsessed with achieving bottom-line results. But they also believe that love and results are two sides of the same coin. They believe that if they love what they do and who they do it for, it is hard not to produce extraordinary results.

Are you born a heart-led leader or are you able to acquire the characteristics over time?

This is a century old argument – are leaders born or are they made? I have always believed that although we may be born with certain characteristics and qualities, true heart-led leadership is a learned trait – just as one would learn how to ride a bike. If one chooses to become a heart-led leader, he or she can become one. But the 18-Inch Journey to become a Heart-Led Leader is a difficult one.

 

“Heart-led leaders have the self awareness to understand who they are.” -Tommy Spaulding

 

18 Principles of the Heart-Led Leader

You make the point that there are 18 inches between the head and the heart, and then provide 18 leadership principles to support the difference. Would you talk about one or two of these that stand out and why they are so important?

The Heart Led Leader The Heart Led Leader

I believe the journey to heart-led leadership is the 18-inches between your head and your heart. In my book, The Heart-Led Leader, I list 18 traits that I believe one must possess to become a heart-led leader—traits such a humility, passion, love, authenticity and vulnerability, etc. I think 21st century leaders must possess these qualities to be truly successful – to create impact, change and bottom-line results.

As an Eagle Scout myself, I was pulled into your personal example about when you wanted to be named Outstanding Scout. Would you share that story and what you learned about character?

Character is one of the 18-inches (traits) of heart-led leadership. I first learned of the importance of character at Boy Scout camp when I was a kid. The scout masters chose one scout at the end of summer camp that was awarded the “Most Outstanding Scout” award. It was the highest honor given to the one scout who demonstrated great leadership qualities. I wanted to win this award more than anything. That week during scout camp I worked harder than any of the other scouts. I got up early. I volunteered for everything. I earned more merit badges, and did whatever the scout masters asked of me.

At the end of the scout camp we had a huge camp fire celebration. And at the end of the evening the scout masters awarded the “Most Outstanding Scout” award. I was certain that I would win the award. I nearly started to stand up before they announced my name.