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How many times have you wondered who the future leaders will be in your organization?

When I listen to organizational sponsors express their needs for leadership development, it can be framed as a need to shift people from almost ready to ready NOW. Coaching is a significant way to develop high potentials into emerging leaders. Here are three ways a coach can help:

  • Identifying strengths. Coaches can assist leaders in identifying and understanding how to leverage their unique gifts.
  • Practicing new skills. Coaching creates an environment in which leaders can discuss and practice new skills and behaviors.
  • Developing more advanced skills. Coaching causes leaders to mature and move past problem solving toward an increased ability to manage paradoxical situations.

Coaching provides a process for helping leaders deliver on their best intentions. Supporting a high potential manager with a coach creates a double impact: as the coach draws out information, ideas, solutions, and high level thinking from the emerging leader, the leader can, in turn, draw out information, ideas and higher level thinking from their people. Thus, the emerging leader encourages self-reliance and ownership of the work that’s being done by their direct reports.

Coaching has the potential to create an organizational cultural shift where future leaders continually develop future leaders.

About the Author

Mary Ellen Sailer, Ed.D., is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 120 coaches have worked with over 15,000 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.

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Dear Madeleine,

My long-time boss recently left and I finally got a chance to be a manager. But soon after I stepped into the role, upper management informed me I needed to cut at least three people from my team as part of a massive company restructure.

I messaged my old boss and she told me this kind of situation was one of the reasons she left. She advised me to do the same thing!

I feel betrayed by my old boss. In four short months I’ve gone from being ecstatic over my new role to being in despair and exhausted. Should I just quit like my boss suggested and try to find another job? What do you think?

Completely Overwhelmed

Dear Completely Overwhelmed,

What a cruel disappointment. That just stinks. The first thing you need to do is calm down and reduce the amount of adrenaline racing through your system. Take a big step back and a lot of deep breaths. I know you feel terrible right now, but you are going to figure this out.

If you just throw in the towel because you feel betrayed and disappointed, I know you will regret not having given this your best shot. Am I projecting? Possibly. I personally have a high tolerance for risk—and I have some whopping failures to show for it. But I’ve learned an awful lot from them.

I suggest you tighten your shoelaces and show up for this challenge. If that is what you choose, here are a few things you can do to stay grounded.

  • Get your new boss on your side. Find out what is most important to him or her and in what order. This person must know you are not equipped to deal with this situation, so be honest about it and ask for very clear direction.
  • Get to know your HR partner. Take her to lunch. Get him on autodial. If you have to let people go, get all the help you possibly can. It is a terrible thing to have to learn to do, but as a manager it is essential. The best advice I have for you is to be kind, clear, direct and brief. Do not waver. Take personal responsibility to the extent possible. Decide what needs to said and say only those things. If you can get your HR partner to join you—or even to lead the meetings—all the better.
  • Figure out who else in the organization you need to have on your side. Relationships are going to be what gets you through this. You can read an article on that here.
  • Get smart about change. Start with this great blog post and go from there. You will need this information to manage yourself and your people.
  • See if the company will provide you with a coach. If they won’t, find one and pay for it yourself. Make sure the coach has experience working with new managers who need to ramp up fast. If there was ever a time to get help, this is it. Get as much help for yourself as you possibly can.
  • Put your sanity and self-care first. This is going to be a marathon and you need to take care of yourself to go the distance. So go to the gym or take a walk. Leave work at a reasonable time. Get your sleep, stay hydrated, and lean on your friends.

Surprise! Things change quickly. Life can throw insane curve balls. Sure, you could decide to leave, brush up your LinkedIn profile, and start networking. But wouldn’t you rather try to rise to the occasion and either win or go down fighting? I won’t judge you if you wouldn’t. I promise.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine?  and look for your response here next week!

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What are the attributes of a modern servant leader in business today—someone who puts the interests of others on equal footing with their own? The Ken Blanchard Companies recently completed a three-city tour piloting servant leadership content with leadership, learning, and talent development professionals in Houston, New York, and Ft. Lauderdale.  As a part of the executive briefing, more than 120 HR and OD professionals were asked to define the attributes and behaviors of a servant leader.  Nearly forty attributes were identified.*

Topping the list of servant leader attributes was empathy, closely followed by being selfless and humble.  Also mentioned multiple times were being authentic, caring, collaborative, compassionate, honest, open-minded, patient, and self-aware. The word cloud pictured above features all of the attributes that were identified.

When it came to the top three behaviors servant leaders demonstrate, the leadership and learning professionals identified listening, followed by asking questions and developing others.

For leaders looking for ways to be more others-focused in their work conversations with direct reports, coaching experts Madeleine Homan Blanchard and Linda Miller suggest taking a LITE approach by learning four essential communication skills that form the acronym LITE.

Skill 1: Listen to Learn

Listening is one of the most essential skills any manager can have. Good listeners focus on what the other person is saying and respond in ways that make others feel heard and valued. In any interaction, managers should:

  • Listen with the intent of understanding the other person
  • Set aside distractions
  • Focus on the person and give their undivided attention

Skill 2: Inquire for Insight

Great managers draw their people out. They ask questions that allow employees to share insights and ideas that can benefit projects, tasks, and the team as a whole. And it helps the manager to understand the underlying motivations in regard to what drives behavior. Managers should:

  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Emphasize what and how rather than why
  • Encourage the direct report, once the conversation comes to an end, to recap in order to check for understanding

Skill 3: Tell Your Truth

Being honest builds trust and authenticity; it allows managers to share information that’s needed to help their employee move forward. Many managers are afraid being honest will hurt others’ feelings, but in all actuality, a truthful exchange can empower others. When telling their truth, managers need to:

  • Be brave, honest, and respectful
  • Be open to other perspectives
  • Avoid blame or judgment while they focus on forward movement

Skill 4: Express Confidence

When managers express confidence in their people, it builds employees’ self-assurance and enthusiasm. In conversations with others, managers should:

  • Highlight relevant qualities or skills
  • Point out previous successes
  • Offer support as needed

If you want your managers to deepen their leadership skills, you must teach them to use coaching skills and encourage a strong coaching culture within your organization. Help your managers develop the mindset of an effective coach by familiarizing them with the coaching process and providing effective coaching skills that will help their teams accelerate their performance.

Madeleine Homan Blanchard explains, “When you take the LITE approach, people walk away from the conversation feeling heard, validated, and ready to take action on what was discussed. These skills will help managers interact with their people more effectively and promote clarity and positivity.”

Interested in learning more about adding a servant leadership skillset into your existing leadership development program?  Join The Ken Blanchard Companies for a free webinar on June 20.  Use this link to learn more about Creating A Servant Leadership Curriculum.  The event is free, courtesy of The Ken Blanchard Companies.

*Special thanks to research interns Casey McKee and Hunter Young for compiling data and creating the word cloud graphic which accompanies this post.

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Dear Madeleine,

I am a senior manager in a large government agency that has been decimated and paralyzed by our current administration. Don’t worry, I am not going to get political.  But I do need help, because growth and opportunity have ground to a standstill in our organization and I have a whole team of mission-driven, smart, passionate folks who really should be promoted.  

We old timers are used to rolling with constant change because our senior leadership can and often does change every four years. But this is the first time things have been this dire. 

What do I do when I have four people who should be promoted to their next position and should be getting a bump in salary, but I have an available position and budget for only one?  I am afraid if I move one person, the rest will be so mad that they will quit and then I really won’t be able to get anything done. I am at a loss as to how to keep people motivated under these circumstances.

Swimming Upstream

Dear Swimming Upstream,

It sounds as if you are fighting the good fight in an impossible situation.  I’ve worked with a lot of folks in government, so I’ve had a front row seat to the four-year merry go round.  It can be hard to get anything done under the best of circumstances, which these clearly are not.

You can’t be the only leader dealing with this situation—in fact, it must be situation normal for everyone in management.  Your first stop is probably to discuss this with your boss, who I hope has some ideas for you.  Perhaps there are some underutilized development opportunities for the whole team that can be creatively deployed.  It is probably worth doing some sleuthing—you never know what possibilities have been forgotten because their champion left with the last administration.  Check the fine print!

The silver lining of this situation is that the cause of the standstill is clear to all.  In regular for-profit organizations, when this kind of thing happens it can be hard to know who to blame—and the mission is often uninspiring. Things like hiring freezes, travel bans, and pay cuts happen all the time in almost all organizations. In smaller, flatter organizations it is almost impossible to use promotion and large salary bumps as a motivator, so management must find other ways to keep people engaged.

Your team must know what is going on. They can’t be expecting you to pull a rabbit out of a hat.  I am always a big fan of telling the truth as you see it so they know what to expect.  If you can promote one person, you will want to be clear about what criteria you are using to make the choice.  The least fraught would be to promote the person with the most longevity, but we know that isn’t always how it works based on availability of openings and skill sets.  It is certainly everyone’s prerogative to quit—but if, as you said, they are mission driven, you might encourage them to hang on for a few more years when there’ll be an opportunity for the situation to turn around. It is easy to lose steam when the powers that be are not on your side, but that could change relatively quickly.  Keep the focus on what you can do under the circumstances and the differences you can make.

Courage, Swimming Upstream. Remember that everyone in your agency is in this together, and you can use the awareness of being the underdog to fire up everyone’s sense of purpose.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine?  and look for your response here next week!

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Learn how to create a servant leadership culture in your organization. The just published June issue of Blanchard’s Ignite newsletter shares tips and strategies for leadership, learning, and talent development professionals. Highlights include

Do’s and Don’ts When Creating a Servant Leadership Curriculum

You have to resist the temptation to treat a servant leadership initiative as just a training intervention, says Blanchard senior consulting partner Bob Freytag. “Instead see it, ideally, as a gradual way of being.”

In this special session designed for leadership, learning, and talent development professionals, senior consulting partner Bob Freytag will explore how to apply servant leadership principles within your organization to improve satisfaction, performance, and engagement.

“At first, the thought of launching the training to managers throughout the globe seemed at least a little daunting,” explains Carli Whitfield-Stoller, Sr. Manager, Global Learning and Development. “However, we’ve been able to train 98 percent of our leaders through our strategy of partnering.”

Podcast: Mike Rognlien on This Is Now Your Company

In this episode of the Blanchard LeaderChat podcast we speak with Mike Rognlien, author of This Is Now Your Company on how every person must own their contribution to the organizational fabric of a company.

You can check out the entire June issue here. Want Ignite delivered to your InBox each month?  You can subscribe for free using this link.

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Great coaches are trained to be fully present with clients. We are good at it. We know how to reduce distractions, quiet the mind, and put all of our attention on the client. But that doesn’t mean it is easy for us! There are times when it isn’t easy at all.  Staying in the now takes practice.

This was never more true for me than these last several weeks as I spent time with my father. We knew that he wouldn’t be with us much longer and it was easy to get distracted with worry and fear. But Dad reminded me of a valuable lesson: you don’t know how many moments you have in life, so take the ones you have and live them fully.

There was a bittersweet freedom in knowing our time was limited. Eating Jell-O was a delight. Helping him sit up so he could read was another treasure.  Every touch of my dad’s hands, his smile, and a look from those piercing blue eyes that never missed a thing were moments I cherished as they were happening.

Rather than dwelling on what was to come, or what I wanted desperately to control, Dad had the grace to show me, moment by moment, that there was joy to be had in our precious time together.

This was an extreme situation that warranted mindfulness and being fully present.  It was a reminder that we can’t control the future or change the past—and that every moment we have opportunity to live our now fully and with appreciation.

Putting that into practice every day can be harder to do. Eckhart Tolle says:

“The moment you realize you are not present, you are present. Whenever you are able to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it. Another factor has come in, something that is not of the mind: the witnessing presence.”

That makes perfect sense—and it can be wildly difficult.

Here are three questions that may help you live for now, rather than for the past or the future:

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What is happening right now?
  • What joy can I find in this moment?

Thank you Dad, for such great life lessons.

About the Author

Patricia Overland is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.

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Dear Madeleine,

I manage a fairly large group in engineering.  My team has a good reputation with the rest of the company and works well together. 

Except for one person. 

I have one direct report that I just don’t know what to do with.  “K” has always been a little bit prickly and unpredictable, but people put up with it because she is bright and creative and always brings—or rather, brought—fresh perspectives to the table.

Over the last few months though, things have gotten worse.  A couple of my other employees have mentioned that they are avoiding working with her.  I tried to give her feedback, but she literally got up and walked out of my office.  She is rude to her team mates, and to me.   I am going to have to put her on a performance plan but the fact is that I am really worried that she is having some kind of break down and I feel like I should somehow be able to help her.

Want to Help

Dear Want to Help,

When a good employee starts behaving erratically it is almost always a sign that something has gone severely sideways in their personal lives.   A scary health problem for the employee or one of their loved ones, substance abuse that has gotten out of control, a deterioration in a relationship with a significant other.

If you are lucky, your employees will let you know what is going on so you can assist with connections to appropriate HR support, and helping to manage workload and workflow.  But so many folks come from work environments that punish them for needing support or assistance that they might have trust issues.  If the employee isn’t talking it is hard to know how to help, although I applaud your desire to.

First of all, do your homework. Start keeping a record of all incidents in which K’s actions affect the success of the team.  Find out from HR what kind of assistance is available to K. So many good workers are promoted to management without any training whatsoever about what to do when an employee’s personal life affects their ability to work, so this is your opportunity to get a crash course.

Then, go at it head-on with K.  You will want to express that you are committed to keeping K’s wellbeing in mind as you also try to balance that with the success of the team. Tell K that her behavior is keeping team mates away and that she is no longer adding value to the team, and that things need to change right away if she wants to avoid consequences.

Be clear about what the consequences might be – it isn’t mean, or kicking someone while they are down to share the truth of the situation.  Share that your intention is to help in any way that you can, if she is willing to accept help.  Share whatever information you get from HR about what kind of help might be available through your EAP, if any.  Possibly offer K paid or unpaid leave so she can take the time she needs to get back on an even keel.

So many employees who are suffering in their personal lives are paralyzed by their inability to cope, or they are ashamed, or they are simply so private that it just doesn’t occur to them to tell anyone about what is going on, let alone their boss.

K may just not be able to receive help from you, no matter how kind you are or how much you try.  Do your best—that is all you can do.  Ultimately, your job is to do everything in your power to help your whole team succeed so you will have make decisions based on that in the long run.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine?  and look for your response here next week!

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Taking a servant leadership mindset and turning it into a curriculum and a set of skills can be a challenge, explains Bob Freytag, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies.

You have to resist the temptation to treat a servant leadership initiative as just a training intervention and instead see it, ideally, as a gradual way of being—a slow, consistent approach that embraces hiring practices, vision and values work, and teaching and encouraging the skills that allow leaders to enter into a deeper trusted partnership with their people.

“A mindset of partnership and safe conversations are the cornerstone of any successful program—but you need to have the vision and values in place first,” says Freytag. “You also need alignment at the top.”

In developing a holistic approach, Freytag points to research conducted by The Ken Blanchard Companies that looks at the connection between leader behaviors, impact on the work environment, and the way employees make decisions about whether or not they will support the mission of the company.

“People always have a choice —we call it discretionary effort,” says Freytag. “Compliance may work in the short term, but if you truly want the type of commitment and effort that sustains high performance, you have to tap into something more. You have to meet people’s needs. You have to make it safe for people to tell you what they need. It’s about reciprocity. If you can identify and help others take action on what they hold most dear, they will do the same for you.”

Freytag believes a partnering approach—managers and direct reports working together to achieve goals—is best.

“A partnering approach requires higher skill levels in conversation, listening, receiving and delivering feedback, and coaching—but it’s the only way I know to consistently deliver sustainable results and achieve high levels of performance with the workforce,” says Freytag.

Turning into people’s needs

Freytag says servant leadership is a partnership that makes it safe for people to express their needs on the job. It’s about leaders being approachable and turning toward their direct reports in a spirit of partnership to discuss those needs and provide support.

“As a leader, you must realize you don’t have to know it all. You must listen to learn—and make every person you talk to feel heard. When you do that, you set up a sense of approachability. People start bringing their concerns to you because they see you are not only well-intentioned but also available to listen. Your focus must be more on them and less on yourself. This is an essential of coaching. Servant leaders understand that they are always leading by example. Servant leaders also choose and behave so that they reflect the very behaviors they wish to see in the workforce.”

“When having discussions with some leaders in my past, I’ve had some give me their full attention and acknowledge my position only to let my suggestions fall on deaf ears and go nowhere. As a result, I didn’t really feel heard. The leaders I have had the highest affinity and respect for are those who were willing to have a discussion and to do more than just acknowledge my point of view. They got their arrogance and pride out of the way so they could hear my comments. They didn’t have to agree but they certainly made me feel heard.”

“As a servant leader, you have to raise your hand and show others it’s okay to raise their hand if they don’t know the answer. Leadership is about leading by example. You’re always doing that—it’s your choice whether the example is a good one or a bad one.”

Once you give yourself a heart check and are working on being more open, approachable, and available, Freytag says you’re ready to return to the basics of performance management—goal setting, coaching, and review—but with a different mindset.

“So what does it mean to serve—and what do you do differently? We use an operational leadership model called Situational Leadership® II (SLII®.) SLII® teaches leaders first that people have needs and how to diagnose the different levels of needs people go through on various tasks and goals, and then how to help their people with those needs at their level.

“When aspiring servant leaders take a situational approach, they learn how to help their people grow and develop by meeting their needs for competence and autonomy. It’s a great model that lets leaders know where they are in a conversation. Using this approach puts the leaders focus on the needs of their people first and foremost.”

Freytag asks himself a simple question at the end of every performance related conversation to make sure he stays focused on meeting the needs of others.

“I ask myself: is this person more or less dependent on me on this topic as a result of this conversation? If they are more dependent on me, I’ve missed an opportunity. If they are less dependent on me, I’ve helped them grow and develop competence—which meets a basic psychological need. Now they feel more viable and are able to thrive. That’s a practical, real time, conversation-based perspective. It’s how you stay valuable to others.”

For leadership, learning, and talent development professionals considering a servant leadership initiative in their organizations, Freytag offers some caution on going too big at first.

“Don’t start with the training initiative right away. Start a little smaller—begin with vision and values. Where are you going? What’s important and why? Where are the gaps? I always guard against going too large or too fast with the aspiration of a large-scale training intervention, especially at the beginning of the conversation.”

Freytag also encourages senior leaders to walk the talk.

“It can be as simple as catching others doing things right. Develop recognition programs that recognize when others exhibit behaviors that serve the needs of others. Demonstrate that you value both relationships and results. Slowly you will plant the seeds and prepare the soil for a larger initiative. Once that gets rolled out through the ranks, you can focus on feedback, listening, and accountability.

“Now, piece by piece, you are building a servant leadership culture—and creating a work environment where people can grow and thrive.”

Would you like to learn more about creating a servant leadership curriculum for your organization? Then join us for a free webinar!

Creating a Servant Leadership Curriculum

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

9:00 a.m. Pacific Time

Join Blanchard senior consulting partner Bob Freytag as he explores how to create a servant leadership curriculum in your organization. In this special session designed for leadership, learning, and talent development professionals, you’ll learn:

  • What servant leadership is—and what it isn’t
  • Research on self-oriented vs. others-oriented leaders
  • The power of vision, values, and purpose
  • Identifying your Leadership Point of View
  • Taking a 4-step head, heart, hands, and habits approach to skill development

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to apply servant leadership principles to improve satisfaction, performance, and engagement in your company. You’ll walk away from this session energized and encouraged with fresh ideas to apply in your organization.

Register using this link!

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Addressing low trust in a relationship is a challenging issue. As soon as the “t” word—trust—is mentioned, emotions start to rise, defensiveness climbs, and people begin to feel uneasy about where the conversation is headed.

When I conduct workshops on building trust, participants often ask me for advice about how they can tell someone they don’t trust them. That’s because trust is not a topic most people are comfortable talking about, and few are equipped to handle a trust conversation in an objective, productive, and respectful way that strengthens the relationship rather than tearing it apart.

The key to addressing a lack of trust in a relationship is to not focus on trust itself, but on the behaviors causing low trust. In fact, as a general practice, I recommend trying to avoid using the “t” word completely during the trust conversation. By focusing on behaviors, you and the other person can zero in on what you can control; how you treat each other.

But how do you do that? How do you convey to someone you don’t trust them by only talking about behaviors? There are three basic steps:

1. Diagnose which element of trust is low. Before you can even begin to discuss specific behaviors causing low trust, you have to diagnose which element of trust is being eroded. That’s because trust isn’t a one-dimensional concept. Research shows that trust is made up of four elements: competence, integrity, care, and dependability. Depending upon the context and nature of the relationship, some elements may be emphasized more than others, but all are still important and needed to some extent. For example, competence, integrity, and dependability may be more relevant in the relationship with your auto mechanic, while demonstrating care may be less so. You want to make sure the mechanic is knowledgeable about fixing your car, charges you a fair price, and completes the work on time. Although care is less important in this context, if the mechanic is rude and treats you disrespectfully, it may cause you to wonder if he/she truly has your best interests in mind and therefore erode your trust in him/her.

2. Identify the specific behaviors causing low trust. When you feel you don’t trust someone, it’s rarely a situation where you distrust everything about the individual. It’s almost always one or two key behaviors driving the erosion of trust in the relationship. Once you’ve diagnosed which element of trust is low, you can then narrow down the behaviors causing the gap in trust. For example, let’s look at dependability. People are dependable if they behave in ways that show they are reliable, responsive, and accountable. Those kinds of behaviors look like meeting deadlines, following through on commitments, being readily available or getting back to you in a reasonable amount of time, and holding themselves accountable for the results of their commitments. If you are experiencing low trust with a colleague because he/she isn’t dependable, you’ll close the trust gap quicker and easier by getting crystal clear on the behaviors causing low trust and how you can fix them.

3. Provide feedback on the behavior. Giving feedback to someone is a moment of trust in the relationship. It’s an opportunity to either build trust or erode it, so it’s important you approach the situation with a clear purpose and plan in mind. Once you’ve diagnosed which of the four elements of trust is being eroded, and narrowed down the specific behaviors causing that erosion, the next step is to provide feedback on those behaviors and develop a plan for strengthening them moving forward. Focus the conversation on the behaviors the person can control and change moving forward, not on general personality traits or characteristics. Resist the urge to over-generalize or soft-pedal the feedback. Be descriptive, specific, and describe the negative impact resulting from the behavior, but also assume best intentions on the part of the other person. Finally, keep the conversation focused on problem solving the troublesome behaviors and moving forward in a productive way. Using our previous example of addressing a trust gap caused by someone’s lack of dependability, the feedback might sound something like: “Sarah, we need to discuss the weekly project status reports. You’ve missed the Friday deadline the last three weeks, and as a result, the executive team has had an incomplete picture of the overall project status for their Monday meeting. I’m concerned because this isn’t normally like you. Can we talk about what’s been going on and figure out a plan to make sure we get this corrected?” In this example, without using the word trust, you’ve addressed the behaviors causing low trust with Sarah and have begun to put a plan in place to rebuild trust moving forward.

No one considers themselves to be untrustworthy, so to flat-out tell someone, “I don’t trust you,” will usually lead to damaging the relationship further and make the recovery of trust all that harder, if not impossible. But by diagnosing the elements of trust being eroded in a relationship, identifying the specific behaviors at the root of the issue, and discussing ways to address them moving forward, you can get trust back on track while preserving and growing the relationship.

Randy Conley is the Vice President of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies. His LeaderChat posts appear the fourth or last Thursday of every month. For more insights on trust and leadership, visit Randy at his Leading with Trust blog or follow him on Twitter @RandyConley.

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Dear Madeleine,

I have been working as a technical expert for about a decade. I have been headhunted away from where I was three times, with a substantial signing bonus and salary raise each time. I now make more than I ever thought I would—and I am still getting calls about twice a week.

I am told the sky is the limit with my technical background and skills. I like where I am, though, so I have no reason to leave. I get the budget and time I need to stay current with my skills and my boss depends on my recommendations for strategic changes to our technology.

My boss has talked to me about becoming a manager and I am intrigued by the idea. The organization I work for sees management as a tour of duty, not really as a promotion, so I am not being pressured. I have never really considered going for a manager position because I am desperately shy and congenitally introverted. The idea of having to talk to people and tell them what to do fills me with crippling anxiety. Do you think I should push myself to try managing people?

Shy Techie

Dear Shy Techie,

No. I don’t.

But you did write to me for a reason, so maybe there is more to this that you are not saying. Are you bored? Are you looking for a challenge? If you are seeking to really challenge yourself and put yourself in a situation where you will be forced to grow and change, maybe you should consider giving management a try.

I will tell you this: managing people is hard. Some managers were simply born to manage others and absolutely thrive in the job. The rest of us must rise to the occasion every day—and it is endlessly challenging because people do not act like technology or data sets. People are unpredictable. They have complicated lives and problems that keep them from focusing on work. They often have indecipherable personalities that change when they are under stress.

Even the most rational folks can turn wildly irrational. The most reasonable people can become unreasonable for no apparent reason. Everyone gets overwhelmed and has terrible days and needs to be talked off the ledge—usually all at the same time and on your worst day when patience and empathy are in short supply. It is easy for managers to say the wrong thing or have what they thought was the perfect answer be misinterpreted.

Have I talked you out of it yet?

Really, my first thought was “If it isn’t broken, why on earth fix it?” Shyness isn’t a reason not to manage people; there are a lot of wonderfully effective shy managers. But they are usually driven by a desire to serve and help others, so are compelled to work hard to overcome their own natural inclinations. If you aren’t madly driven by an internal motivation to teach, develop, and serve others, you should find other ways to challenge yourself and expand your horizons.

I would have given different advice twenty years ago when I thought everyone could do anything they put their minds to. Thirty years of coaching have taught me that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine?  and look for your response here next week!

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