Leading People Toward Influence – The ABCD’s of Trust


Leadership is an influence process. Whenever you try to influence the beliefs or behaviors of another person, you are engaging in leadership.

By this definition we are all leaders in some form or fashion.

Understanding Basic Leadership Roles

Q: Are you a parent?

You’re trying to lead your children.

Q: Are you a sports coach?

You’re trying to influence the performance of your team.

Q: Are you part of a team at work?

You’re engaging in leadership when you try to influence the behaviors of your teammates.

Q: Are you a sibling, spouse, friend, or neighbor?

You’re in a role that requires influence.

Virtually all the roles we play in life require influence and leadership.

Leading People Toward Influence

So, you are probably a leader in some capacity, if not in many. And with this, YOU have influence. But how do you lead people toward influence? How do you help others, and yourself, become influencers?

It all starts with trust.

Influence requires you to be in relationship with someone and all healthy relationships are built on trust. Trust, and thereby influence, doesn’t “just happen” in relationship. It is built through the use of specific and intentional behaviors. Our behaviors either build or erode trust with others.

4 Key Elements of Trust

There are four key elements of trust you must cultivate in your life in order to be a leader and person of influence.

These four elements are the ABCDs of Trust:


Leaders build trust when they demonstrate competence. People trust you when you have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to competently lead in your chosen role or profession. Able leaders produce results by using strong problem-solving and decision-making skills that allow them to set and achieve goals that produce a track record of success. People don’t trust incompetent leaders, no matter how lovable or respected they may be.


Leaders are believable when they act with integrity. Behaving in an honest and ethical manner, admitting your mistakes, and “walking your talk” are key ways that leaders build trust. Treating people ethically and equitably through fair policies and not playing favorites builds trust and confidence in a leader’s character to do the right thing.


Trusted leaders connect with their followers on a personal level. They use good communication skills to establish rapport and they take the time to appreciate and recognize the good work of others. Connected leaders understand that leadership is about relationships. They understand that every person has a story – their life experiences, hopes, dreams, and fears – and they make that personal connection that lets their followers know they are valued and respected.


Being reliable and dependable builds trust. Following through on commitments, doing what you say you’re going to do, and taking accountability for your actions (and those you lead) is all part of being a dependable leader. Dependable leaders have an organized system that allows them to follow-through and meet deadlines, and they are timely in responding to others and don’t drag their feet when making decisions.

Leadership Is Influence

Leading people toward influence is an inside-out proposition. It starts on the inside, with your desire to be a trustworthy person, and evolves to the outside where the ABCDs of trust thrive in your relationships with others. Remember, influence is leadership, and leadership begins with trust.

So how are you doing leading people toward influence? How are you building trust with them and teaching them to build trust with others? How well are you doing in the ABCD’s of trust? I would love to hear your thoughts! 


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Randy Conley
Randy Conley is the Trust Practice Leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies
He helps leaders and organizations build trust in the workplace
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog

Image Sources: liquidroom.com

Creating Law and Order: Leading with Discipline


Are you leading with discipline? Does this type of leader describe you?

  • You actually enjoy routine. In fact, if there is no structure, you create one. After all, routines promote efficiency, high productivity, and accuracy, right?
  • Starting a day without a schedule or knowing exactly what to do could potentially leave one aimless. That’s what makes it so difficult for you to work with or for someone who doesn’t create structure, for themselves or others.
  • Sure, there’s time for fun and breaks, you enjoy those too, as long as they fit into the overall scheme of things.

This outlook on your job and life can be attributed to your Discipline strength.

Your Barrier Labels

Discipline is definitely a good thing, especially when it’s self-imposed. Your bosses love that you get things done without supervision, your employees always know what’s expected and when, and your peers know they can count on you. Unfortunately, before people get to know you or your Strengths, you need to be aware of some of the labels people may tag you is a less than flattering light.

In an unsophisticated manner, Discipline can appear overbearing, mechanized, or unable to handle change. In short, a leader no one wants to come to or lean on.

A Sophisticated Leader

If you’ve ever been described using the barrier labels above, the good news is you have Discipline! That means, you have the ability to discipline yourself to become sophisticated; practicing the art of balance takes self-imposed structure, which you have plenty of.

The even better news? Once you have mastered your Discipline, you’ll be known and recognized as a great planner, highly productive and efficient, and extremely accurate. Nothing wrong with that is there?

As a sophisticated leader, your strategy for success is going to be knowing when things are too rigid, and when they aren’t rigid enough. In general, people don’t enjoy being micromanaged. However, they do like to know how to be successful, and some may even need a hint on how to get there.

By leveraging one or more of your other strengths, i.e. Relator, you will be able to adjust your style with the human factor in mind. Because some of your other strengths allow you to connect to your people, or see the bigger picture, you’ll be able to pull back on the Discipline in your leadership style when necessary, and create boundaries when and where they’re needed.

Leading those with Discipline

If you’re a leader with more “free slowing” strengths, like Adaptability, Futuristic, or Harmony, you may find there is some friction between you and your employee with Discipline. If they are constantly seeking structure, and you are unable to provide any, they may become frustrated.

Though they can create their own routine, there will be others on your team that need a little more guidance. If you, as a leader, don’t provide it, Discipline is going to notice. Chances are, there will be someone on the team under delivering, or delivering late, which affects the whole team. Even if it’s an indirect effect, Discipline will feel it more than most and quickly become dissatisfied with you as a leader, and their job as a whole.

Now, that doesn’t mean you need to try and be just like them. It just means you need to be aware and as consistent as possible. Make sure that everyone has deadlines, and they have the guidance and resources they need to produce. You’re already an apt leader, so no major adjustments should be necessary!

If you’re a leader with Discipline, how do you balance your need for structure with the strengths of others? Do you lead someone with Discipline? Do you find them to be reliable? Do they often ask you for deadlines, schedules etc.? How do you handle that on days you might find it “overbearing?”


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Alexsys "Lexy" Thompson HCS, SWP

Alexsys “Lexy” Thompson is Managing Partner at Fokal Fusion
She helps building Strong Leaders through Strong People Strategy
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web

Image Sources: jayblock.com

On Leadership, Change and Transition

Changes AheadChange is never easy. Change is a bumpy process. Change is uncomfortable. And it create problems.

But why is change so hard? 

Leaving the Familiar

Change is hard because it is an emotional experience for most. An emotional experience, particularly an experience one often has little choice in being part of, creates resistance. 

Resistance is a natural emotion, though an emotion that can make change even harder.

 “All resistance is mobilization of energy, not lack of energy. Those who “resist” are “bundles of energy” not passive, lifeless blobs” – Nevis (1998).

However, resistance must be managed to harness that energy for positive change. Managing resistance requires focusing on not just change, but also transition.

Understanding Transitions

Often in managing change individuals and organizations neglect to address “transition.” According to William Bridges, transition is the psychological movement through the change.

Change Bridges

Transition consists of three parts:

  • The Ending (of what was)
  • The Neutral Zone (muddling and creative period)
  • The New Beginning (of what is)
People go through the phases of transition at their own pace, not necessarily at the pace of others or the pace of an organization. It is important for people to be supportedthroughout each phase.

“To ease the difficulties of the change process a focus on transition must run in parallel to a focus on change.”

Change is the actual physical event (merger, new job, graduating from college, getting married, getting divorced, new baby, new grandbaby, new boss, and so on). There are three primary reasons people view change as difficult and thus resist change.

  • Loss of self, power, influence, or perceived value
  • Having to learn something new
  • Lack of understanding on “why” they need to change

Many times people view change as a statement that they are underperforming or not doing a good enough job.

Managing Transistions

People often see the impending change as a threat to their established reputation, quality of life, or future with the 

community. Most people that resist change fear having to learn new skills, concepts, or policies.

Whether it’s learning a new computer system, operational skills or even how to get something approved, organizational improvements and change efforts threaten their current status-quo.

“The way ‘ we have always done it’ works just fine.”

The thought of changing behavior scares people. The majority of people who resist change simply don’t understand why things need to be different.  “It’s the way we’ve always done it” is the typical response from this group. Not successfully addressing these issues increases resistance.

Wherever there is a change effort, there will be resistance” – Beckhard & Pritchard (1992).

Do you resist change? How do you deal with individual and organizational change and transition? Does the idea of a big change strike fear in you, or does it bring optimism and hope? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Scott Span

Scott Span, MSOD is President of Tolero Solutions OD & Change Management Firm
He helps clients be responsive, focused, and effective to facilitate sustainable growth
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Facebook | Website

Image Sources:

Leadership Lessons from Mickey Rooney and a Telegram Boy

This is a true story.

In 1938, when he was seventeen, my father-in-law (first name Guy) worked as a telegram delivery boy for Western Union in Los Angeles. His territory was Hollywood, so occasionally he would find himself driving up to the house of a movie star.

One evening, Guy delivered a telegram to Mickey Rooney. It was Rooney’s eighteenth birthday, and the telegram was a singing one. (Back then, Western Union sang as required.) Rooney himself answered the doorbell; he was having a party, and he was surrounded by his guests. Guy, looking spiffy in his uniform, launched into a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.”

Now Rooney, like many movie stars, had a preference for being the center of attention. After a few moments of seeing his friends smiling and laughing at the telegram boy’s performance, he flung himself to the ground and began thrashing around in imitation of an epileptic seizure. All eyes turned to him, and everybody laughed harder.

Guy found this a little irritating. So, he lifted his foot and placed it on Rooney’s chest, applying enough pressure to stop the fake convulsions. With foot firmly planted, he finished the song.

A minute or two later, Guy left—tipless. But as he was walking back to his car in the dark, something odd happened:  One of the party guests emerged stealthily from a side door, chased after him, and handed him a ten-dollar bill. (That’s $163.27 in today’s money.)

This is for you,” the man said with a grin. “I have never seen anyone put his foot on Mickey Rooney!

Surprise! Not Everyone Thinks You’re Wonderful

Believing everyone thinks you’re great is a classic pitfall for leaders. I call it the “They Love Me!” Trap.

Leaders fall into this trap when they take their posse’s smiles and applause at face value and don’t stop to wonder whether someone might be secretly hoping to see a foot planted on their chest (or rear).

A couple of recent articles and books take a look at the phenomenon:

  • In “The Price of Nice,” Jeremy Sherman says that when we insist on being treated nicely, we tend to be kept in the dark.
  • And Robert Bruce Shaw, author of the book Leadership Blindspots, talks in a recent interview about how “the lights come on” when leaders realize their relationships aren’t as positive as they thought.

Oops. Didn’t Know People Thought That

I still remember an incident years ago when an employee let me use her collaboration software account and forgot to delete a private chat she’d been having with another team member during a virtual meeting a few days before.

When I opened the software, there was the entire chat in black and white. It revealed that those two team members didn’t think much of a certain pet project of mine. I closed the chat window after reading a few lines, but the truth was out—and the realization that not everyone loved my “baby” put a knot in my stomach for quite a while.

Here Are Three Ways to Avoid the “They Love Me!” Trap

1) Make it entirely safe for people to express doubts or report bad news.

The smallest sign of disapproval from a leader—a slight frown or a sigh, let alone pounding the table and yelling—tends to shut people up instantly. When a team member expresses a view you don’t care for, even one that feels like a personal attack, make a conscious effort to show you welcome the comment: relax your face, lean a little forward, and ask him or her to “say more.”

2) Ask your team members for advice. 

The best way to improve someone’s opinion of you is to show you care about his or her opinions. Make it a habit in one-on-one meetings with team members to ask for advice on some aspect of your work with them, and listen when they reply.  Not only will your relationships improve, but you might learn something.

3) If you happen to overhear unflattering remarks, don’t overreact. 

Remember there are many reasons someone might have said or written those things (a desire to be funny, agree with a friend, vent some passing frustration …). It’s unlikely there’s anything truly sinister behind the words, so rather than confronting the person or trying to sniff out “what else they really think about me,” redouble your efforts to create a positive, open relationship.

Oh, and one last tip: If a telegram boy appears at your door to sing you a birthday song—don’t try to steal the spotlight.

What’s your advice? What can we do to shed light on the state of our relationships? To create more positive ones?  To remove the blindfold when it comes to our team’s opinions?


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Jocelyn Davis

 Jocelyn Davis is Founder and CEO of Seven Learning
She is an Author, Speaker, and Consultant on Leadership Issues
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web

Image Sources:

Creative Leadership: Discover New Training Games

The brilliant thing about leadership is that it’s creativity is only limited by the means in which it’s lived out in your life. We’ve moved into a period of history where it’s unacceptable to be black and white or dare I say it – beige!

So, looking forward into new methods of leadership and utilizing creativity, how can we change?

On Opening Hearts

Lance Secretan once said this:

“Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration—of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.”

Creative leadership means thinking outside of the box of mundane. Where it once was OK to stand in front of a group of people and talk for an hour or two, now you’re thought of as old fashioned, boring and irrelevant. People need different types of stimulant and communication to learn and be open to hear what you have to say.

Leadership Training Games

Leadership games and icebreakers have become more important, not in the traditional sense of just facilitating icebreakers in a group scenario but also teaching valuable leadership techniques. They’re not just fun and awkward 10 minutes during a training session, but can become a bigger learning adventure than any subject matter that can be created.

Kickstart Cards

The Perfect Icebreaker! 1+ 770-490-5289

I’ve seen business simulation games really open up ideas and creativity in teams which lacked both ideas and creativity. The work that comes out of it is innovative and sticks with the participants. Further than that though, the concepts which have come from these leadership games often get applied to businesses and organizations.

Opening Up Creativity

These training games open up creativity in three particular ways;

1. Putting groups of people in a creative environment stimulates personal innovation.

2. Stimulating creativity among two or more people help to bring an idea into reality.

3. Opening people up to new ideas and reality prompts people to grow and be creative with future endeavors.

Obviously the expectation isn’t that you completely transform the ways in which you teach and lead in one instance, but rather why not take an opportunity this year to do something different. Be creative and open your eyes to new possibilities in a team leadership environment.

So what are you doing to open up people and help them discover new ways to be creative in their leadership development? what steps can you take in the future to start to investigate clever ways to open up their minds? What types of successes have you had in the past with training games? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

James Baldock

James Baldock is Creator of Leadership Lime
He develops Leadership Culture, Trains People and Empowers Leaders
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web

Image Sources: entrepreneur.com


Leaders: 5 Best Practices For Increasing Employee Retention

Hey leaders, what employee retention strategies do you use to engage and retain employees? Statistics from research done by the labor bureau show that the average American will hold around 11.3 jobs during their working years.

The average number of jobs held is actually going up- especially with Millennials.

Eleven may seem like a really high number – however that depends on various factors, including the work you do, and what generation you are from. Employee retention doesn’t just happen.

Providing Your Success

Employee retention is critical to the success of an organization. Without a focus and an understanding of people, behaviors, and what engagement and rewards strategies work for best for your culture, reducing turnover can be even more difficult.

It’s not always easy, so to help, try using an Employee Engagement & Retention Checklist with a high-level overview of steps to take toward success with some employee retention strategies.

People decide to switch jobs for a wide variety of reasons.

New blood is a good thing, but a constant turnover is detrimental to performance, morale, and the overall sustainability.

Some reasons are related to personal or life changes and are completely unrelated to the job itself. Consequently, a business can’t expect to impact or change all departures. Though with workers switching jobs roughly every 4.4 years, businesses do need to be focused on the aspects of employee retention they can influence.

What is Driving Your Employees?

What is Driving Your Employees?

5 Best Practices For Increasing Employee Retention

So, what are some of the best practices for increasing employee retention?

1) Provide career navigation and personal branding strategies from the get-go.

Involve employees in the process as much as possible. Ask questions to find how what motivates them. Employee development is also key because it is important to provide coaching, educational opportunities, and training programs. By helping people plan their desired path within in an organization, setting concrete goals, and providing support to help them achieve those goals, engagement and retention increases.

2) Hiring the right managers makes all the difference. 

Steve Miranda, Managing Director for Cornell University’s “Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies” (CAHRS), said in an interview that he believed 80% of employee turnover resulted from the environment created by a manager as opposed to the company at large.

So it’s critical to work closely to make sure there’s a consistent open line of communication between employees and managers, and that managers are working collaboratively and positively with their employees.

3) Work to create a culture of trust. 

An organization with a culture of trust often has higher levels of performance and retention. An organization with a culture of distrust is an organization destined to be doomed.

To maintain positive employee retention make sure your organization has a culture of trust, not distrust.

4) Recognize good performance. 

Be it financially or with some other non-monetary benefits (NMBs), make sure employees are recognized when they achieve their goals and perform above and beyond. Pulse your workforce for their preferred means of recognition and then implement various strategies based on that feedback.

With workforce demographics changing, a one size fits all approach no longer works.

It’s important to pay attention to what each motivates different employees. Not all employees prefer to be recognized for a job well done in the same ways. As we’ve said before, if unsure the best ways to engage and retain employees – ASK THEM.

5) Hire the right kind of employees for skills and culture fit. 

A focus on both aspects is important to success. Sure, some people are “shooting stars”, and you’d be lucky to catch them, but if they’re not a fit for the culture of your organization then you’re not likely to see maximum performance or retention.

By interviewing and choosing the right hires in the first place, you’re getting a leg up on setting up a relationship that can last.

Real Motivation

Though, there are many other employee retention strategies for engaging and retaining employees, these tips should serve as a good start. Be transparent, have a clear employee value proposition, communicate with employees early and often, know what they want and what you want, and what motivates them.

This should help set you up for a successful partnership that leads to a higher performance and retention.

So what type of environment are you maintaining? Is it one of trust, or of something else? What are you doing to understand what drives your employees to bring out their best and to want to stick around? Are you taking the time to undestand how best to retain your folks? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Scott Span

Scott Span, MSOD is President of Tolero Solutions OD & Change Management Firm
He helps clients be responsive, focused, and effective to facilitate sustainable growth
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Facebook | Website

Image Sources: cdn2.hubspot.net


4 Superhero Ways to Show Courage in Leadership

What is your greatest fear in your work? What is the one thing that you don’t want others to know about you? Perhaps it’s burying past mistakes or poor decisions, or maybe you’re in a new leadership role where you feel ashamed or ill-equipped about your lack of formal education or work experience.

If you don’t handle these nagging, fearful thoughts and feelings, then they will manifest unhealthy leadership attitudes like control and manipulation.

Understanding Courage

Unfortunately for many people, the term courage has been limited to the examples that we see in action films or books:

  • The superhero leaping from building to building
  • Jumping out of an airplane to land on a moving train to get the bad guy
  • Or simply using sheer power and strength to overcome obstacles

In reality though, most courageous acts happen in everyday life, but they may never get as much recognition on the movie screen.

4 Superhero Ways to Show Courage in Leadership 

Here are some powerful ways to show courage every day in your work 

1. Be Open, Honest, and Transparent

From my experience as a junior ranking prisoner in the Vietnam POW camp*, I was able to observe the leadership of our highest and best officers and occasionally some of the worst. The most consistent theme was courageous transparency. In the POW camps, all the niceties of leadership were immediately stripped away along with the former advantages of power and authority. Higher ranking officers were naturally the ones that the enemy focused on first and the most often. They were subject to torture more often, more isolated, were beaten more often and yet they still had to lead, make policy and then live by the policies they made. They could not hide their interactions with the enemy because it was obvious to everyone; however, they were transparent about it.

When they were beaten into submission, they would admit what they had done. The environment was amazingly transparent. There was no pretending, which quickly revealed true character.

There was always temptation to take a shortcut or say something to get the enemy off your back. In that process, I saw that courage was the key to leading with honor.

2. Learn to Trust and Be Trusted

Leaders need to take the time to build trust. It’s so important for success in work, and I don’t believe that much emphasis is given on this important principle during formal training and leadership development.

Most leaders know that they need to do some teambuilding, but they automatically think that’s singing Kumbaya and hugs; but to create an authentic level of trust, you must get to know each other.

One of the best ways to be open and gain trust is taking a personality assessment and sharing the results. A personality assessment** is the common denominator to understanding somebody’s leadership style, his or her strengths, struggles and fears. Knowing that about each other helps to build trust among team members.

3. Apply Accountability Through a Core Set of Values and Ground Rules

The issue of accountability is huge and doesn’t get enough attention; it’s often absent when clarity is also lacking. Accountability and clarity go hand in hand, and those two important concepts require leaders to define a core set of values. Organizational or team values have to be operative and not aspirational. You can have aspirational values, but you need to be clear that that is what they are. For instance, if the value is against gossiping but we still gossip, then it’s not a value; it’s an aspirational value.

Having those few core values, then preaching them from the highest to lowest levels so they are inculcated into daily work life, builds a work culture.Values will hold you together and give you the freedom to empower people in ways nothing else will.

Teams that build ground rules or rules of engagement for how they will work together can hold each other accountable in positive ways.

Values Drive Decisions theme

4. Make Steady, Daily Progress Developing Your Team or Staff

Professional development of others may not seem like a courageous act, but to do it on a consistent basis is a hallmark of great leadership.

Leaders have to be developing their people all along the way, all the time, and they need to go first by setting an example of personal growth. This allows the leader to have the credibility to mentor, coach, and make expectations known, all the while clarifying why you do things a certain way and telling stories about how you learned about this value or that leadership principle.

Making the Shift

There are many ways to be a courageous leader, and these are just a few practical ways. But you may notice that the common thread in these examples is shifting your inward focus on fears and inadequacies to an outward focus on doing the right thing to be an example and help others.

If you’re focused on building and equipping others to succeed, then courage will eclipse your own personal fears.

Choose at least one of these courageous acts of leadership, and commit to applying it in your daily work.

What other powerful ways do you show courage every day? Please share your comments!

Related Links:

*You can read stories about these courageous leaders in my latest book, Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton. Click here for details.

**Get an introductory snapshot of your leadership strengths and struggles with a FREE Leading with Honor Assessment. Click here to register.


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 42,592 other followers

%d bloggers like this: