Better leaders or better followers?

Is your company among the 87% of employers who say improving retention is a key priority?*

It’s a struggle for business owners and HR professionals alike – keeping employees, especially those deemed as high-potential. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median number of years wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.2 years in January 2018.


Business with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates 30-50% higher than those that don’t. – Robert Half

Keep your employees by demonstrating your commitment to them.

Vistage Master Chair Christine Spray will be taking a limited number of applicants for her Emerging Leader Program, kicking off on April 2.
The program curriculum is organized into four modules – Personal, Interpersonal, Team, and Organizational. Today’s post shifts our focus away from the leader.
Researchers Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard developed the Situational Leadership Model to shed light on an oft-overlooked aspect of practical leadership development: the attributes of the staff.
The makeup of any given team is as diverse as the number of possible DNA sequences. People are on different intellectual, maturity, and motivational levels. Effective leaders need to address their staff where each employee is at. The Situational Leadership Model identifies these as the four types of leader/follower styles:
  • Telling
    • Staff are characterized by low competence and low commitment, being unable and unwilling to comply, with possible feelings of insecurity.
    • Leaders must focus highly on tasks, with clear instructions and regular follow up. The leader must be encouraging and motivational, offering praise for positive results and correction for less than positive results.
  • Selling
    • Staff at this level have developed some competence with an improved (but perhaps not reliable) commitment, and are open to becoming cooperative and motivated.
    • Leaders must still focus highly on tasks with a focus on developing a relationship with the employee, and spend more time listening and offering advice, less “telling” and more “suggesting” and encouragement, acting as a coach.
  • Participating
    • Staff is now highly competent, but not yet convinced in his or her ability or not fully committed to doing their best and excel.
    • Leaders no longer need to give detailed instructions but do need to be involved to ensure work is done at the level required, focusing less on the tasks assigned and more on the relationship between the individual employee, the leader, and the team.
  • Delegating
    • Staff now feel fully empowered and competent enough to take the ball and run with minimal supervision, and are highly committed, motivated and empowered.
    • Leaders delegate tasks with minimal follow-up, knowing acceptable or excellent results will be achieved; there is low focus on tasks and no need to compliment staff on every task, though praise for outstanding performance must be given as appropriate.
The Vistage Emerging Leader program provides a holistic view of leadership, along with training to apply what’s learned in the classroom to the workplace.
*source: Future Workplace and Kronos
  • Companies with 20-500 employees
  • Employee is currently second/third in the management hierarchy, or poised to be in a management role soon, or identified as a rising star
  • 2-year program with six full-day programs every other month
  • Interactive workshops on 12 core leadership competencies
  • Mentor/mentee training for on-the-job reinforcement


Benefits to your organization
  • Bench strength
  • Employee retention
  • Improved execution
Benefits to emerging leaders
  • Develop core leadership competencies
  • Improve career advancement opportunities
  • Grow your network with other emerging leaders

Leaders CAN be made. Here’s how.

Leaders CAN be made. Where will your next leader come from?

The saying is that leaders are born, not made. If you’re a parent, you know that’s not true. You were thrust into a situation of vital importance and stepped up to the challenge. Often, it’s outside events that ignite the leadership potential within each of us. When combined with dedicated and structured internal exploration, great leaders can indeed be made.

Simply adding a star performer to a team boosts the effectiveness of other team members by 5-15%. No wonder, then, that study after study shows stronger financial performance in companies that make proportionally greater investments in identifying and developing top talent.

-Harvard Business Review

Are you ready to invest in your top talent?

Vistage Master Chair Christine Spray will be taking a limited number of applicants for her Emerging Leader Program, kicking off on April 2.

The program curriculum is organized into four modules – Personal, Interpersonal, Team, and Organizational. Working from the inside out, participants will develop the core competencies necessary for successful leadership.

Here are self-directed exercises established and rising leaders can implement to enhance all four arenas where strong leadership skills are needed:

  • Build meaningful work relationships – Have intentional team interaction, like asking about interests outside the office or writing sincere thank you notes to individual members for jobs done well.
  • Motivate others – Write an open letter to acknowledge your team’s achievements, administer a team morale survey, or initiate a simple rewards program to show appreciation.
  • Strategize for improvement – Create a task force to make a “stop doing” list of outdated or cumbersome procedures and policies, ask individual team members to define quality and how the company achieves it.
  • Coach others – Conduct individual goal-setting meetings with your team, institute a new hire forum to discuss workplace excellence, and simply ask the team often, “how are things going?”
  • Drive positive work values – Openly discuss what it means to be value-driven, identify and clarify team norms for professional interaction, write the workplace values that define your leadership approach and share with all.
  • Build trust – Ask a small group to identify “trust busters” and work to eliminate these, establish a feedback group to discuss levels of trust within the team, define authentic behavior for yourself.
  • Conduct better meetings – Address latecomers to eliminate tardiness, let the team know you’re working on facilitation skills and ask for feedback, stop meetings midway to ask for suggestions, list ways to cut down on meetings.
  • Clarify issues – Create a committee to identify and prioritize team issues, find a personal mentor to talk openly about leadership issues, try to identify patterns in recurring issues, log how long it takes to resolve issues.
  • Vision – Discuss the future of the team with them often, keep a journal for visionary thinking of needs, wants, desire, and dreams, write the “best case” scenario for your team’s future and share with them.

Without the opportunity or external challenge, it’s hard to truly see a person’s intrinsic leadership capabilities. The Vistage Emerging Leader program provides the perfect opportunity for participants to learn the techniques of true leaders, and a forum to put those techniques to use to build confidence, face challenges, and make decisions.


  • Companies with 20-500 employees
  • Employee is currently second/third in the management hierarchy, or poised to be in a management role soon, or identified as a rising star


  • 2-year program with six full-day programs every other month
  • Interactive workshops on 12 core leadership competencies
  • Mentor/mentee training for on-the-job reinforcement


Benefits to your organization

  • Bench strength
  • Employee retention
  • Improved execution

Benefits to emerging leaders

  • Develop core leadership competencies
  • Improve career advancement opportunities
  • Grow your network with other emerging leaders

Signs you may actually be a micromanager

Leader or micromanager?

Leadership can be defined as the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. But when does leading take on the ugly face of micromanagement?

Many business owners and leaders don’t realize that they are micromanagers. When we become business owners, we typically add new staff out of necessity. Everything else we’ll learn as we go…right?

What is micromanaging?

An extreme micromanager is the business owner or manager who excessively supervises the employees; even the smallest details have to be reviewed. Micromanagement to varying degrees is more common than you might think.

How are micromanagement styles created?

1)    Lack of trust: Lack of trust is one of the greatest factors in micromanagement. The leaders believe that no one can do the particular task as well as them.

2)    Fear of failure: Fear of failure can feed these behaviors. Staff might not realize how much is at stake.

3)    Being involved in every problem: Some believe that good leadership means “When my staff have a problem, they come to me to fix it.”

4)    Unclear expectations: Leadership development is not deliberate with clear expectations and measurable results.

Before you realize it, your staff becomes dependent on you to keep the business running. Regardless of the situation, as the business grows, at some point a leader’s bandwidth cannot attend to a vast number of tasks.

A company’s staff is one of your more valuable assets; sometimes we overlook the impact on morale by not giving individuals the autonomy to perform routine work. 

How to stop micromanaging your team

You need to take a leap of faith in your team. Recognize your fears. Share your desire to build an environment where you trust their ability make more decisions without your involvement every step of the way. Together, identify clear expectations between each of you.

As a Vistage Chief Executive Chair, I lead a group of high performing CEOs and business owners that create organizational cultures that challenge and entrust employees to exponentially grow their companies beyond any single person’s capabilities.

What have other CEOs done to stop micromanaging to create high performing teams? Start by looking in the mirror. Ask yourself these questions:

  • “What can I do to demonstrate my trust in team members?”
  • “How effectively am I hiring and retaining employees that align with the culture I am trying to create?”
  • What behaviors am I displaying or enabling that are preventing my team from rising to their fullest potential?”

Try the 100 List Exercise

Below is an exercise my Vistage CEOs found helpful to intentionally identify and reduce micromanaging habits.

Objective: Build clarity so team members can make more effective decisions by reducing dependency on the leader.

  • At your next staff meeting, ask your direct reports to create a list of at least 100 items that currently need your approval. Sit silently.
  • What is this list telling you about your micromanagement habits? Yes, you probably need to be included in the $100,000 purchasing decision. But do they really need to ask what flavor coffee to buy for the break room?
  • Now, let your team know you need their help. As their leader, it’s time for a paradigm shift. You hired them for their expertise and experiences. You want to empower them to make better decisions without always seeking your approval.
  • You rate each line item:

A = Only I can make the decision

B = You can make the decision after discussing it with me

C = You make the decision on your own

Challenge yourself over time to delegate more decisions to your staff.

  • Be honest and vulnerable. Ask your staff, “how else am I getting in the way of your success?” and “How can you help me recognize when I am micromanaging?”

Keep this open dialogue as an agenda item with your staff. When challenges arise, fight the urge to solve the problem. Instead, encourage the team to collaborate and find ways without your micro-involvement. Imagine how your workday will change when you can spend more time working “on the business” and less time caught micromanaging “in the business.”


by: Liza LeClaire, Vistage International

Photo credit: ID9928936 © Tamás Ambrits  |

Joy to the world!


The holidays are here! Time for celebrations and good cheer!

It is the season when we gather with family and friends to acknowledge our blessings and remember those no longer with us. It is also the season to give yourself the gift of presence, both personally and professionally.

Love thyself and love others, in both word and deed. Give yourself and grant others grace; this time of year can be stressful and filled with a range of emotions. Know that you are loved and tell others you love them too.

Set goals and make a plan to be successful in the coming year. Stop to think about your most significant accomplishments and disappointments of the year. Commit to writing your goals for 2020. What is one thing you will start doing, stop doing, and continue doing to reach these goals?

Give more than you receive. Serving others can not only provide a sense of purpose, it also helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. Volunteer Houston is a great place to find the perfect way to give your time to those in need. They also have a special Holiday Project!

This year I will remember my Grandma who passed in September. I also give thanks for the countless memories I’ve made with family and friends. I stop to acknowledge the many clients who entrust me to help guide their businesses to success. And my daily gratitude goes to my very best friend, my wonderful husband. Indeed, I am blessed!

Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season.



Image: 106424271 © creativecommonsstockphotos –

Six Keys to Business Success

The Six Keys to Business Success

Running a business can feel like herding cats at times, with so many priorities vying for your attention every hour of the workday. Yet as with most things, the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is something to keep in mind when making a conscientious decision on how to spend your time. Focus on those few things that will yield the greatest impact for your business.

  • Core Focus

The company WHY of who you are and where you are going must be clear not only with the CEO but across the entire organization. Every employee must have their personal Why defined. If an employee is not invested in where the company is going, their performance will slow the organization down. Some organizations call this Core Focus their Mission.

CEO Action Strategy: Host a team meeting to create and/or confirm the company vision and each employee’s as well.


  • Culture

The CEO is responsible for creating, exhibiting, and upholding the culture through defined Core Values created with the Leadership Team. All employees must understand the core values internally and externally adopt how they work together, with suppliers, clients, etc.

CEO Action Strategy: Do a survey of your employees asking their perception of the current company culture and how well the core values are implemented. Ask employees for involvement; create an employee committee to poll employees on how well the culture is reflected within the company and what the leadership team or employee committee can do to ensure the core values are implemented across the organization.


  • accountability

The CEO should ensemble a Leadership Team with department heads or division leaders to ensure the entire organization has balanced representation like the three-legged stool – Sales/Marketing, Operations, Finance (IT, HR, Admin, Accounting).

CEO Action Strategy: Meet weekly with the leadership team with a set agenda to celebrate successes, review the weekly business scorecard, review progress on strategic quarterly initiatives, discuss employee/client concerns and company issues, and hold each member accountable to follow-up agreed to by the team.


  • Leadership

CEOs must develop those around them in order for the company to grow; leadership team members need to continue to grow both individually and with each other or the company will “hit the ceiling” or outgrow its leaders. Utilize Assessments to help the leadership team understand and recognize their strengths and weaknesses and where the best use of their time is related to their “unique ability” – what they do really well – so they can help their direct reports do the same thing independently and together.

CEO Action Strategy:  Create a development plan in areas of soft skills and technical skills; hold each other accountable. Consider reading a leadership book and discussing the highlights together; some options include Good to Great, 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Traction, eMyth, etc.


  • Long-term Goals

The CEO must determine with the leadership team where the organization needs to be in five years, 10 years, or longer. This group needs to be able to plan, predict, and execute to end up where they want to go. This ensures the business can maximize market share and stay ahead of the competition, while also providing clients with what they need and opportunities for employees to learn and develop.

CEO Action Strategy: Set aside a full-day off-site meeting with the leadership team for strategy planning to determine the long-term goal of the organization; perform a SWOT Analysis in detail that will help identify the multitude of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats the organization has to capitalize on. Determine what the strategic initiatives are that the leadership team needs to focus on every 90 days to reach the company’s long-term goal.


  • traction

The CEO and the leadership team must share the vision, long-term goal, how to get there, and what it means for the company and its employees to create buy-in and participation across the organization. This keeps everyone headed in the same direction and focused on the same goal.

CEO Action Strategy:  Host Quarterly Town Hall Meetings and share successes every 90 days with employees; remind everyone of the core focus, core values, mission, scorecard, trailing 12 months of financials, and refocus on the strategic initiatives for the next 90 days in order to reach your goals.


Remember that true leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. Work with your leadership team to determine the main pillars of your business and then share them openly and often. When your employees know where the business is going and what’s in it for them, they are invested in the journey and the likelihood of reaching the destination together as an organization is infinitely higher. EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, provides clear concepts and practical tools to help take any business to the next level. Contact Christine Spray, a Certified EOS Implementer™, at [email protected] or 832-380-8224 or visit to learn more.


About the Author:

Christine Spray is a nationally recognized business development keynote speaker, best-selling author three times, consultant, trainer, coach and Certified EOS Implementer™. Spray serves as a CEO and business advisor with a passion for helping people and companies grow.


Photo credit: © Roman Samborskyi |

Happy Holidays


Happy Holidays – Celebrate YOU this season!

‘Tis the season for joy and celebration with loved ones. And ‘tis the season for hustle and bustle, planning and travel, stress and exhaustion!

It can be easy to get overwhelmed. These short reminders can help keep the season bright:

  • Love thyself. Self-care helps you be your best, for yourself and for others.
  • Be present. Stop planning and worrying to create space to savor the moment.
  • Consume in moderation. Practice a healthy relationship with food and drink.
  • Joy and sadness can co-exist as you remember missing loved ones.
  • Gentle, deep breaths ease stress, even if only for a moment.

2018 has been another year full of blessings, a journey of both ups and downs. Yet it is the journey which is the real blessing. However and whenever I encounter you on this journey, I am joyful because of it. You make a positive difference in my life. Thank you.

Wishing you every blessing now and in the new year to come,



Photo: dreamstimefree_27896421

Leading through change


Leading Through Change

At Strategic Catalyst, we do believe great leaders can be made because we’ve seen it happen with hundreds of our clients. The Leadership in the Workplace series we just wrapped up focused on traits of leaders and strategies to sharpen leadership skills. These strategies are intended to build the person in the leadership role. With a strong leader in place, it’s time to assess the current business landscape and identify what is needed to propel the business to the next level.

“The next level” will vary by business – it may be penetrating a new market, increased net revenue, adding key staff, or redefining the corporate culture. Such changes can stir a range of emotions in employees; fear, anger, anxiety, and tension are common and can stop progress dead in its tracks if left unchecked. Leadership can be a lonely road when charting through such changes. Strategic Catalyst can be the objective coach and mentor to navigate leaders along the emotional path to the next level.

Create a leadership action plan

Working together, our first step is to define the action plan needed to ensure a leader is equipped to address the challenges ahead:

  • Set Leadership Goals
    In leadership, as in life, you will never come to the end of your learning, but you want to rank in priority order those qualities you want to develop.
  • Address the Goals
    Determine how you will accomplish your goals. Do you feel you need to learn more about teamwork so you can better lead a team? Join a team sport. Do you want to communicate better? Take a creative writing class or join Toastmasters and get some public speaking experience.
  • Seek Inspiration
    Learn about a variety of leaders, their styles and how they dealt with challenges. Read books and conduct research on the internet or at libraries.
  • Choose a Role Model
    Based on your research; choose a role model that fits your personality. Read several biographies and find videos on his or her life.
  • Seek Experience
    Take a leadership role in a social group or club. Gain experience working with people on many levels.
  • Create a Personal Mission Statement
    Imagine your legacy. What do you want to be remembered for? What do you want people to think of you? What kind of leader are you determined to be? Write a statement that defines who you will become.

Be the change

In their book, The Leadership Challenge, authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner identified five abilities that were crucial to successful leadership:

  • Model the Way
    You must lead by example. You can’t come into work 10 minutes late every day if you want your employees to arrive on time.
  • Inspire a Shared Vision
    If you capture the imagination, you will inspire creative thought and increase loyalty.
  • Challenge the Process
    Don’t continue doing something just because “We’ve always done it that way.” Situations change, and sometimes a policy or procedure never worked well in the first place. Think outside the box.
  • Enable Others to Act
    Truly empower people to act on their own within their level of authority.
  • Encourage the Heart
    A positive attitude is infectious.

Understand your leadership style

Christine works with leaders to identify their leadership style, and how to leverage it. The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership model addresses four types of leadership styles:

  • Telling
  • Selling
  • Participating
  • Delegating


Identify SMART goals

You are prepared as a leader to be the champion everyone in the business needs to follow in order to reach the next level. Now is the time to identify what that next level is and define the parameters of success around it. List the SMART goals and be sure to share them with everyone in the business. Remember the emotions employees may be feeling and help them understand what’s in it for them as the changes are being implemented.

  • Specific: The vision itself is general while the goals are specific targets to be met.
  • Measurable: Goals must be measurable in terms of progress and attainment.
  • Attainable: Clearly, a goal which cannot be met is not a goal, it is an idea.
  • Realistic: A goal may be attainable, but not with the resources at hand.
  • Timely: All goals need to be accomplished within an established time frame.

Change is not easy. People don’t like it. Leaders must be willing to walk alone because some of the team who started the journey with you will not finish with you. And that’s OK. Strategic Catalyst is here to help.

By Christine R. Spray

Photo: ID 128940008 © Daniil Peshkov |

Leadership Pt 4 – Create a Thriving Workplace


Create a Thriving Workplace

This fourth article concludes our Leadership in the Workplace series. To reiterate what is the foundation of this series – great leaders can indeed be made. By focusing on a few basic traits, it is possible to develop leaders who are the backbone of a strong business.

The previous articles addressed how to cultivate meaningful relationships, building trust, fostering positive workplace values, and coaching and motivating others. We wrap up the series with a trio of related topics to take your leadership skills from good to great – clarifying issues, conducting better meetings, and strategizing for improvement.

Leaders are responsible for creating and fostering the workplace environment. All the articles in this series address some aspect of crafting a positive, engaging, and fulfilling workplace. The leader’s role is to regularly set the stage for success through all the cycles a business naturally takes.

All businesses face issues, things that challenge forward progress toward the established goals. Leadership requires the ability and skill to address issues head-on as soon as they occur.


Clarify Issues

  1. Create a committee clearing house to identify, define, and prioritize team issues.
  2. Carry a small notebook to jot down information, opinions, and ideas you hear from the team.
  3. Identify a personal mentor or coach who you can meet with regularly to talk openly about leadership issues.
  4. Establish a feedback group to get insights into your leadership style and behavior.
  5. As you gather opinions and viewpoints on an issue, make sure you get a diversity of ideas from diverse people.
  6. Stop on occasion and identify those things that you feel are working well and those things that are causing stress.
  7. List the major issues that you have confronted over the last two years. Is there a pattern? Is there a type of issue that keeps emerging?
  8. Keep a log of the time it takes you to handle an issue. Determine if you are handling issues in a timely and efficient manner.

Meetings are what some might call a necessary evil. Yet meetings should not be the time suck they so often are in many businesses. Take disciplined steps to make meetings a better experience for all involved.


Conduct Better Meetings

  1. Develop a list of things that you can say to let meeting latecomers know that tardiness is unacceptable.
  2. Complete the following metaphor: “My style as a meeting facilitator is like ______.”
  3. At your next meeting tell the participants that you are working on one or two meeting facilitation skills. After the meeting ask the group how you did with each.  Ask for suggestions.
  4. Identify three to five adjectives that define your style as a meeting facilitator.  Then, ask selected team members to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a meeting facilitator.  Any Patterns? Similarities? Surprises?
  5. At your next meeting stop midway and ask the participants how the meeting is going.  Ask for suggestions to improve your meeting facilitation.
  6. Establish an assessment group and identify ways to keep meetings focused and on track.
  7. Make a list of ways to replace meetings with other forms of communication.

Leadership is the constant pursuit of excellence, making your business the best it can be for employees and customers.


Strategize for Improvement

  1. Work with a small group to create a “stop doing list.”  These are procedures, actions, or policies that are outdated, cumbersome, redundant, or annoying.
  2. Set a few minutes aside each day to reflect on how things are going professionally.  You may want to ask a few team members to reflect with you.
  3. Make a point to recognize team members who successfully implemented positive change.
  4. Make a list of procedures, functions, and/or policies.  With a committee of key players, grade each from A to F. Then talk about improvements.
  5. Make a point to talk to numerous team members one-on-one and ask them the following two questions: “What is quality?” and “How do we achieve quality?”  Take notes.
  6. Review your current process of delegating.  Then develop a list of guidelines for the delegation of tasks.  Ask yourself how you can do it more effectively.

I routinely work with the C-suite to develop leaders. While not all employees have the ability or desire to lead, leadership can be honed in those willing to pursue the greater good. Use these closing tips to constantly keep your company’s vision in mind.

  1. Hold informal “round tables” to discuss the future of your team.
  2. Keep a professional journal in which you focus on four aspects of visionary thinking: needs, wants, desires, and dreams.
  3. Write out the “best case” scenario for what you want your team to become.  Give it to your team and ask for responses and additions.

John C. Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership has so many concise and clear thoughts on leadership. This one sums up what has been addressed in this Leadership series. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”


By Christine R. Spray

Photo: ID 134046195 © Fizkes |

Leadership Pt 3 – Coaching and Motivating Others


Coaching and Motivating Others

The previous article in this leadership series focused on building trust and reinforcing values. Part 3 builds on this positive momentum through coaching and motivating others.

Leaders are expected to model corporate values and set the bar for desirable employee behavior. Leaders should also be expected to motivate and grow other leaders from within the company. When leaders coach their team, not only does knowledge transfer occur, mission building occurs too. Motivating and coaching are also critical for the future of the business, empowering employees to hone their abilities and prepare for greater roles within the organization.

Coaching is a formalized practice, practiced by thousands of certified professionals. This type of internal coaching is focused on leading by example, demonstrating corporate values, and strengthening relationships with the executive team.

Coach Others

  1. Give selected individuals short but pertinent readings on professional strategies.  Ask them later what they thought of the reading.
  2. Meet with individuals and identify personal goals.  Ask them how you can help them achieve their goals.
  3. Form “new hire” focus groups to discuss workplace excellence and what it means in your business.
  4. Form Learning Circles, peer groups with a variety of skills sets and roles, to share best practices.
  5. Conduct open meetings—no agenda, just open talk.
  6. Don’t forget the easiest strategy of all—ask team members … “How are things going?”

Your coaching should take a more organized approach; schedule regular meetings, record and track goals and outcomes, and consistently take and share notes (or assign someone to this task) from group meetings.

A less organized but no less important way to build future leaders and promote a more cohesive workplace is to make a mindful practice of motivating others. The key is to make motivation a habit, something done without even having to think about it. With the tips below, find the frequency for each that works best, then stay the course.

Motivate Others

  1. Write an “open letter” in which you extol the achievements of your team.  Be certain to use specifics.
  2. Establish peer coaching partnerships to help inexperienced or stressed team members.
  3. Arrange open forums in which volunteers’ exchange ideas and encouragement to support and motivate one another.
  4. Design and administer a team “morale” survey.
  5. Initiate a simple rewards program that offers prizes or recognition—even if you just draw names out of a hat.  Explain that the process symbolizes how you appreciate their hard work.  Note that the prizes can be humorous or donated by team members.  It is the symbolism that counts.
  6. Go a full work week without using attacking or discouraging language when dealing with your team members.

One closing thought is from John C. Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.”


By Christine R. Spray

Photo: © Adam

Leadership Pt 2 – Building Trust


Building Trust

The second article in this leadership series is on trust, one of the most critical traits of a strong leader and necessary for success in the workplace.

Trust is defined as the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, or surety of a person or thing – confidence. A 2016 survey by consulting firm PwC found that 55% of business leaders believed lack of trust in the workplace was a foundational threat to their company. Yet, to have a trusting workplace, leaders must first be trustworthy.

Below are exercises that can help develop and strengthen in all leaders. Remember to execute these steps with a clear purpose in mind, and then reflect on each upon completion. Build these exercises into your daily, weekly and quarterly schedule, to ensure completion and achieve greater frequency.

Building Trust

  1. Work with a small group and identify “trust busters.”  Discuss ways to avoid or eliminate trustbusters.
  2. Identify three team members who you trust the least and list those things that you distrust about them. Are there some common threads in all three? What is it that drives you to react to them cautiously?
  3. Over the next few weeks try at least one strategy to build a positive connection with each of the identified team members.
  4. Find a short article on trust and give a copy to each of your team members. Ask them to discuss it with you over lunch or before or after work.
  5. Establish a feedback group in which you discuss the level of trust on your team. Identify positive things that you can do to build trust.
  6. If you made a leadership mistake, admit it, and discuss it with your team. Note how the team reacts.
  7. Define authentic behavior for yourself.  Set some standards for authentic behavior and hold yourself accountable to them.
  8. Make a short audio tape in which you affirm your commitment to building stronger levels of trust. Listen to this tape periodically for motivation and affirmation.
  9. Survey your leadership peers to discover what they do to build trust with their teams.

Driving Positive Work Values

As you continually build and model trust, be mindful that it is only one of the values critical for success. While the specific values of each business will vary, a regular and mindful focus on developing those values is necessary to instill them at all levels of the workplace. Try these exercises with your core leadership team:

  1. Engage team members in casual conversations around the question…” What is a values-driven team?”
  2. Discuss ethical standards with your team members.
  3. Develop a matrix that shows the relationship between your values and your management behavior.
  4. Research managerial ethics. Report your findings to the team.
  5. Identify and clarify team norms or rules of professional interaction.
  6. Link professional behavior to workplace values.
  7. Write down the workplace values that define your approach to leadership.  Share them with your team members.


By Christine R. Spray

Photo: ID-143486928 © Peerapong