Do we trust resilient people more? Should we hire them?

This HBR article is about whether or not recruiters should hire based on whether or not the candidate is resilient. This is an older article that popped up on the linkedin list of articles today and made me realize that during these tough economic times, people do think more about resilience, and why some folks are more resilient than others.

This article asked “Should you hire based on the resilience trait?” and “How does someone learn resilience except through experience? Aneil always quotes Barry LePatner’s insight that Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement. So true.

One way we have experienced this is from one of our favorite churches: Reynolda Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, NC. It was one of the only churches we have ever attended where people were open and honest about the fact that they had actually been through some very difficult trials, were struggling through them, and were coming through on the other side. As a result, they had developed resilience as well as an earnest desire to help each other through their difficulties. It was much easier to trust these folks with our own struggles, like Aneil’s cancer at the time, because they understood, having gone through their own. As a result, that church had a very strong sense of community which we have not experienced since.

Aneil and I believe we are fairly resilient, which is probably why we found each other in the first place. Not many high school students have in common losing a loved one when they are 11 or 12 years old. For us, resilience started before we were teenagers.

How important is having resilience? Do you know resilient people? What makes them different? If you have resilience, how did you develop it?

I think resilient people really are courageous and authentic because they know who they are, know what they have been through and choose to keep on going. They inspire me to keep on going, too.


By totaltrust Posted in Trust

Building on Strengths as a Leader

Aneil and I advocate a focus on strengths in your leadership journey and not dwelling on weaknesses.  It is our strengths that can help us identify what we can contribute to our team and our organization as well as what we are really passionate about in order to bring our best to our work.

We think highly of the Gallup StrengthsFinder survey that helps you identify your own strengths and then also lets you analyze the strengths you have in your organization and what other strengths you might need to round out your team.  The Reflected Best Self exercise is also a good way to ask others who know you well to help you identify when you performed at your best, also focusing in on your strengths.

This study today agrees that strengths can help a leader strengthen his or her ability to lead when he or she is humble, willing to learn and improve, be open to feedback from others, learn from other role models, and continually improve his or her skills.

We find in our work that it takes courage to acknowledge that you as a leader have more to learn, as well as humility to acknowledge that there might be other ways to lead.  All of this results in an authentic leader who knows who he or she is–a leader who can be trusted to lead with integrity.


By totaltrust Posted in Trust

Do you have a trusty team?

Our next book has one chapter devoted to building a trustworthy team (or trusty team) and here are a few things we found.

The team does need a coach:  Even though the team trusts each other more when it shares expertise and leadership, it thrives when it has a leader who cares about the team, provides direction, and is there when the team needs him or her.

The team should be accountable to each other:  The team will get more out of the project and the experience if team members agree to be accountable to each other.  They will have to agree what that means (how often they will meet and what deadlines they will meet) and then hold each other accountable.

Listening will build trust:  When team members learn how to open up to each other and truly listen to each other’s ideas, then that open communication will lead to better decision making and a better understanding of how each other operates.

Create informal opportunities to get to know each other:  Teams gel through coffee and lunch, not just in meetings.  Make sure to take time to get to truly know each other.  This will help team members appreciate each other’s strengths and backgrounds, as well.

This reminded me of my son’s lacrosse team.  He practiced all summer at 7 a.m. to get ready for next spring’s lacrosse season.

  • His coach showed he cared by being there before the first player arrived each morning, ready to work, providing solid direction and help.
  • His team members are accountable to each other by calling out plays as they practice so that they can help each other out
  • You wouldn’t think that teenage boys are good listeners, but I learned a lot myself about lacrosse this summer because of what Jack heard by listening to his coach and his teammates.  Because Jack was the new guy, his teammates all taught him how to play the game and improve his skills and he listened.
  • When they are not playing lacrosse, they are hanging out together and doing things like playing Xbox with each other.  They are laughing  and creating nicknames for each other that create stronger bonds with each other.

Do you have a trusty team?!


By totaltrust Posted in Trust

Thank you #8: Thank you for friendship in a difficult time

These thank-yous just keep getting easier.  It must be because I’m “reprogramming my brain” as this article describes.  This author encourages us to flex that gratitude muscle so that we will want to do it more and more.

This one was easy: I wrote a letter of thanks to my daughter’s friend, Jen, for being such a good friend, especially when our daughter needed her.

Our daughter had a difficult year at school this past year.  It was so bad that she is going to spend her senior year at a different school.  Despite the bullying, the abandonment by supposedly good friends, the torment by a teacher and the lack of support by administrators–through it all, Jen stood by Maggie.  She made time to go to dinner with her.  She made time to go shopping with her.  She made the effort to console her when she was feeling bad and she even provided words of encouragement and support to get her through the tough times.

There are not many 17-year olds who are mature enough to see another’s pain and help them through it.  It was heart-wrenching to watch my daughter go through such a horrible year, but I feel so blessed that she had such a good friend in Jen.


By totaltrust Posted in Trust

Thank you #7: Our favorite barista, Merrie

Merrie is one of the baristas at our favorite Starbucks in Durham, NC.

We just found out that she is leaving for a job as a scheduler, coincidentally, at our kids’ pediatrician’s office.

I guess we should not be too surprised.  We love Merrie and our pediatrician’s office, so it is not surprising that they found each other.  They both exhibit the many trustworthy behaviors we admire in people:  we can rely on them to be kind and do their jobs very well. I also think that people trust that both will do their jobs without being thanked, which is why I took this opportunity to thank Merrie for her “kind and gracious way“.  Sometimes, it is the unexpected, but wonderful ways that people treat you that make your day.

We will miss seeing Merrie at Starbucks, but now we have the added bonus of being able to see her at the doctor’s office.  I have a feeling we won’t be seeing her as often as we are used to!


Employee engagement: from Gallup to Dilbert to Starbucks

Employee engagement is the topic of the week.  First, Aneil found a Gallup article about how the reason that employees don’t “get” your brand is that they are not engaged in the mission of your firm.  The article reminded managers that instead of looking to hire outside celebrities to tout their brand, they should look to their own employees to promote their brand. Then, Dilbert comes through with a great strip this week on engagement, reminding us how to encourage our employees to get the best from them.

This all reminds me of our frequent boasting of our favorite Durham Starbucks baristas because they are the perfect example of brand ambassadors who “get” the Starbucks brand and what is stands for.

Gallup says:

To maximize the power of this resource you must arm your employees with the knowledge and resources they need to be effective brand ambassadors. They must:

  • know what your organization stands for and what makes it different from others in the marketplace
  • understand your brand promise and be able to explain the most important elements of your brand identity
  • be empowered to deliver on your brand promise


I can tell you that our local Starbucks baristas know how to deliver on the brand promise.  I know also, it is because their manager, Tanya, is empowering them to make a difference with their customers.

Recently, I witnessed Justin, a relatively new (and young) barista, offer a drink coupon to a customer.   A gentleman was waiting at the end of the bar and when Justin asked him what he was waiting for, Justin realized that his drink order had been lost in the long line of cups that Justin was preparing.  Justin quickly made his drink and at the same time, gave him a drink coupon for a free drink on his next visit.  When the gentleman said, “this is not necessary”, Justin said, “yes it is–we messed up and didn’t have your drink ready when we should have.  I’m sorry.”  Now, I know all of those baristas well enough to know that it was an innocent mistake, it was a crazy morning with a long line of folks and any one of those baristas could have easily made that mistake.  But, Justin did not point fingers or make excuses.  He took responsibility for correcting the mistake and satisfying the customer.  As someone just waiting for their drink (and someone who studies employee engagement!), I was so impressed.


By totaltrust Posted in Trust

Feedback to the President: So even he needs to learn to say thank-you…

Wow! I’m not the only one who believes in the power of being grateful and saying thank-you.

Maureen Dowd observes that the President of the United States needs to express more gratitude as he runs for re-election.  Since I don’t know the man personally, it would be hard for me to make this observation, but I do appreciate her perspective.   One commenter thought that his introverted ways might prevent him from properly expressing his thanks, but that is a cop-out: I am an E/I on the Myers-Briggs continuum and still find a way to express my thanks to people.

Her piece reinforces the point I have been struggling with and reflecting on: namely that we all appreciate more in life if we express gratitude to others for how they have been kind, gracious, and influential in some way in our lives.  Saying thank-you demonstrates both our humanity and our humility.  We should not be too proud to say that we received a dose of help or kindness from another, but also that we noticed and appreciated that help or kindness.

Who will you thank today?!


By totaltrust Posted in Trust

Thank you #6: To our Soldiers

On my birthday, as I watched the fireworks on PBS, I said a prayer for our men and women in uniform.  Our daughter took a wonderful English class this past year with a focus on war and she brought home a new appreciation for our soliders and our veterans.  As a result of the grand 4th celebration and our year-long focus on soliders and veterans, I decided to send them a word of thanks as part of my year long focus on gratitude.

I had read about A Million Thanks and wanted to find a way to participate, even in a small way, so I wrote a note and had 50 printed thank you cards so I could sign and send a personal note to 50 soldiers.

How do you thank folks who voluntarily leave their homes to defend our country and put themselves in harm’s way?

No matter how you feel about any particular war, how do you find the right words to express the depth of your gratitude for something that is actually such an enormous gift that we can never repay?

What other ways can I find to thank our soldiers and veterans for their service?  As one veteran told our daughter when he visited her class, “Don’t just put a bumper sticker on your car–be informed.”

Establishing your own personal (trusted) brand

Ever since Tom Peter’s wrote about “The brand called you” I have thought about personal branding.  We don’t often think about how our resume, cover letter and profile (or even what we wear!) all fit together to create a personal brand that is relevant, authentic and trustworthy.

This article reinforces the fact that a personal brand must be those things in order for others to want to do business with us and that it is better to define our brand before someone else does.

Great thoughts.


By totaltrust Posted in Trust

Preventing medical mistakes through openness and reliability

After completing the research for our chapter on healthcare leadership, I was intrigued to read this op-ed by Sanjay Gupta (of CNN fame) on medical mistakes.  He thinks that in the quest to prevent mistakes, doctors end up doing harm.  They prove their competency by ordering a plethora of tests, only to have some of them actually do harm to the patient.

His prescription is a good one:  transparency and openness resulting in greater reliability.  Attempting this, though will require courage and humility.  I pray that it ends up with better consequences for patients (and healthcare professionals) in the long run.


By totaltrust Posted in Trust