“How Are You?”

A throw-away question… or one you are asking with sincerity?

In my capacity as an executive with a former employer, I used to work with an insurance broker by the name of John Spinner. Whenever I talked with him or saw him in person, he’d ask the standard question “How are you…” but with two additions.

how are youHis question was “How are YOU today?”…with heavy emphasis on the YOU. And the addition of the word “today” totally took the question out of the “throw-away” category to a question where the answer was important to him.

If in person, it was accompanied by a firm handshake and direct eye contact. If my answer was non-committal, John would follow up “no – really how are YOU?”

Agreed – I was a customer. But as time went on and John knew he had my business, he still asked the question same way. And if I responded in anything less that “A-OK John”, he’d ask “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Please note these exchanges took place over 30 years ago yet I still remember them.

The point is that this single aspect of John’s communication skills helped make him a very likeable fellow which in turn earned him referrals galore… and from referrals come new business and more referrals.

And remembering John’s approach to the routine “How are YOU today?” serves as a reminder to us all just how impactful the most simple of communications can be.

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13 Common Behaviors of Trusted Leaders!

Without trust – organizational crisis!

Research shows that only 49% of employees trust senior management, and only 28% believe CEOs are a credible source of information.

Trust aOrganizational trust is critical for success – trust is the foundation for all successful relationships, both business and personal. If you are a manager and leader, one of your most important roles is to inspire trust. Trust in you, your motives  AND your organization.

Inspire – to affect – to guide – to bring about – to fill with enlivening emotion.

Inspiring trust is not an easy task. To be trusted as a manager and leader, you must demonstrate both character and competence:

Character includes integrity, honesty and how you are observed treating others. A manager/leader who has earned trust is viewed as a “good and honest person” as demonstrated by past words and deeds – by “history”. He or she is credible – up front with people.

Competence includes capabilities, skills and track record. Your actions and decisions need to demonstrate that you know what you are doing – that you understand the marketplace, understand people and that you are constantly looking for organizational opportunity.

The-Speed-Of-TrustStephen M.R. Covey (son of the late Stephen R. Covey) – in his landmark book The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything – talks of the “13 Behaviors of High-Trust Leaders.

Covey identified 13 common behaviors of trusted leaders around the world that build and then maintain trust. When individual leaders adopt these ways of behaving, it’s like making deposits into the “trust account” of another party.

Those 13 are:

1. Talk Straight: Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand. Demonstrate integrity.

2. Demonstrate Respect: Show you genuinely care. Respect everyone, even those that can’t do anything for you. Show kindness in little ways.

3. Create Transparency: Be genuine, open and authentic. Don’t hide information or have ‘hidden agendas’. Operate on the premise of ‘what you see is what you get’.

4. Right Wrongs: Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible. Demonstrate personal humility. Don’t cover things up. Do the right thing.

5. Show Loyalty: Give credit to others. Be loyal to the absent. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves. Don’t talk negatively about others behind their backs.

6. Deliver Results: Establish a track record of results. Accomplish what you are hired to do. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering.

7. Get Better: Continuously learn and improve. Increase your capabilities. Develop formal and informal feedback systems. Thank people for feedback. Act on feedback received.

8. Confront Reality: Meet issues head-on. Address the ‘tough stuff’ directly. Acknowledge the unsaid. Lead conversations courageously.

9. Clarify Expectations: Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss and validate them. Renegotiate them if necessary. Ensure expectations are clear.

10. Practice Accountability: Hold yourself and others accountable. Take responsibility for good or bad results. Clearly communicate how everyone is doing.

11. Listen First: Listen before you speak. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Diagnose. Don’t assume, find out.

12. Keep Commitments: State your intentions and then do it. Make commitments carefully; make keeping your commitments the symbol of your honor. Don’t break confidences.

13. Extend Trust: Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.

Wise words and a roadmap for every manager and leader. Keep the short list of these (talk straight, demonstrate respect, create transparency, etc.) in your mind as you go about your day. Better yet – get Covey’s book and read it!

Leadership – Never Stop Learning…….

Good luck!

Adapted from Crisis of Trust by Lori Williams of Creative Management Consultants

See the blog on the NRI website for additional job-seeking & career information:

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