Most high-achieving leaders struggle with this one. Signaling a lack of empathy is a major barrier to empowerment leadership. If people think you care more about yourself than about others, they won’t trust you enough to lead them.
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The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
Once you get comfortable with how that feels, start expanding what you know. Along the way, make an effort to learn from other people. Their insight is among your most valuable resources, but to access it, you must be willing to reveal that you don’t have all the answers—something leaders often r...
Trust is also one of the most essential forms of capital a leader has. Building trust, however, often requires thinking about leadership from a new perspective. The traditional leadership narrative is all about you: your vision and strategy; your ability to make the tough calls a...
If people feel they’re not getting access to the “real” you—to a full and complete accounting of what you know, think, and feel—then you probably have an authenticity wobble.
A quick test: How different is your professional persona from the one that shows up around ...
So pay less attention to what you think people want to hear and more attention to what you need to say to them. Reveal your full humanity to the world, regardless of what your critics say. And while you’re at it, take exquisite care of people who are different from you, confident in the k...
Ideally, someone who knows you well. Sharing your analysis can be clarifying—even liberating—and will help you test and refine your hypothesis. About 20% of self-assessments need a round of revision, so choose a partner who can keep you honest. Consider going back and testing your analysis direct...
Empathy wobblers should pay close attention to their behavior in group settings, particularly when other people have the floor. Consider what often happens in a meeting: When it kicks off, most people feel very engaged. But as soon as empathy wobblers understand the concepts under discuss...
Although withholding your true self may sometimes help you solve problems in the short term, it puts an artificial cap on trust and, by extension, on your ability to lead. When people sense that you’re concealing the truth or being less than authentic, they’re far less willing to make the...
Empathy wobbles are common among people who are analytical and driven to learn. They often get impatient with those who aren’t similarly motivated or who take longer than they do to understand something. Additionally, the tools and experience of the modern workpla...
To be a truly empowering leader, you need to take stock of where you wobble not only in your relationships with others but also in your relationship with yourself. Are you being honest with yourself about your ambitions, or are you ignoring what really excites and inspires you? I...
Consider two teams of three people, one in which the three members are different from one another, and the other in which they’re similar. If both teams are managed in exactly the same way—if they simply follow the same best practices in group facilitation, for example—the homogenous team is like...
We think of trust as precious, yet it’s the basis for almost everything we do as civilized people. Trust is the reason we’re willing to exchange our hard-earned paychecks for goods and services, pledge our lives to another person in marriage, cast a ballot for someone who will re...
When logic is the problem, go back to the data. Root the case you’re making in sound evidence, speak about the things you know to be true beyond a reasonable doubt, and then—this is the hard part—stop there. One reason Larry Bird was such an extraordinary basketball play...
Here’s the reason to care, even if you don’t see yourself as different: All of us pay the price of inauthentic interactions, and all of us have a better chance of thriving in inclusive environments where authenticity can flourish. Gender bias, in other words, is not just a woman’...
People don’t always realize how the information (or more often, the misinformation) that they’re broadcasting may undermine their own trustworthiness. What’s worse, stress tends to amplify the problem, causing people to double down on behaviors that make others skeptical. For exa...
If you had to choose from our three trust drivers, which would you say went wobbly on you in this situation?
Did your skeptic feel you were misrepresenting some part of yourself or your story? If so, that’s an authenticity problem.
Did your skeptic f...
But the “common information effect” only holds if people wobble on authenticity. When they choose to bring their unique selves to the table—that is, the parts of themselves that are different from other people—they can create an unbeatable advantage by expanding the amount of inf...
There’s a basic solution to this problem. Instead of focusing on what you need in that meeting, work to ensure that everyone else gets what they need. Take radical responsibility for the others in the room. Share the burden of moving the dialogue forward, even if it’s not your m...
Self trust is the essence of heroism.
If people don’t always have confidence in the rigor of your ideas, or if they don’t have full faith in your ability to deliver on them, then logic is probably your wobble. If they don’t trust your judgment, why would they want you at the wheel?
The cost of inauthenticity can be observed up close in the performance of diverse teams. Diversity can be a tremendous asset in today’s marketplace, and the companies that get it right often enjoy powerful competitive tailwinds. But this advantage isn’t automatic. Simply populating your t...
If logic is your wobble, however, that’s a risky path to take. With all that circuitous journeying, you’re likely to lose your audience along the way rather than build trust in your judgment. Listeners may even abandon you at one of your narrative turns.
Now stand back and try to look at your pattern of wobbles across multiple incidents. Pick three or four interactions that stand out to you, for whatever reason, and do a quick trust diagnostic for each one. What does your typical wobble seem to be? Does the pattern change under s...
To avoid that, try flipping the imaginary triangle upright. Start with your main point, or headline, at the top of the triangle, and then work your way down, building a base of reinforcing evidence. This approach signals a clarity of vision and a full command of the facts. Everyone has a ...
That is due in part to a phenomenon called the “common information effect”, which works like this: As human beings, we tend to focus on the things we have in common with other people. We tend to seek out and affirm our shared knowledge, because it confirms our value and kinship with the g...
There are generally two ways to communicate complex thoughts. The first takes your audience on a journey, with twists and turns and context and dramatic tension, until they eventually get to the payoff. Many of the world’s best storytellers use this technique. You can vis...
The good news is that most of us generate a stable pattern of trust signals, which means a small change in behavior can go a long way. In moments when trust is broken, or fails to get any real traction, it’s usually the same driver that has gone wobbly on us—authenticity, empathy, or logi...
For most logic wobblers, however, rigor isn’t the issue. Much of the time, the problem is the perception of wobbly logic rather than the reality of it. Why does this happen?
Because they’re not communicating their ideas effectively.
To identify your wobble, think of a recent moment when you were not trusted as much as you wanted to be. Maybe you lost an important sale or didn’t get a stretch assignment. Maybe someone simply doubted your ability to execute. With that moment in mind, do something hard:...
In fact, the uncomfortable truth is that diverse teams can underperform homogenous teams if they’re not managed actively for differences among members. That’s because shared knowledge is key in decision-making, and diverse teams, by definition, start out with less of it. But if you create...
Indeed, the last thing to say on empathy is this: If you do nothing else to change your behavior, put away your phone more frequently. Put it truly away, out of sight and out of reach, not just flipped over for a few minutes at a time. You’ll be amazed at the change in the qualit...
Being your “real self” sounds nice in theory, but there can be powerful reasons for holding back certain truths. The calculation can be highly practical at times, if wrenching—as in deciding to stay closeted in a workplace that’s hostile to queer identities. There may als...
So how do you build up stores of this foundational leadership capital?
Trust has 3 core drivers: authenticity, logic, and empathy. People tend to trust you when they believe they are interacting with the real you (authenticity), when they have faith in your judgment and competence (...
“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison
When trust is lost, it can almost always be traced back to a breakdown in one of its 3 core drivers. To build (or rebuild) trust, we first need to figure out which driver we “wobble” on. (Replace the words “leaders” and “leadership” with “human beings” and “relationships” and see what happens).
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To lead a team effectively, you must first establish your leadership with each team member.
Most effective team leaders build their relationships of trust and loyalty, rather than fear or the power of their positions.
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