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Organizational Trust: 10 Do’s and Don’ts

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on March 7th, 2017    No Comments

Organizational Trust: 10 Do’s and Don’ts

For the past four years Trust Across America’s Trust Alliance Members and Top Thought Leaders in Trust have collaborated on an annual poster to assist organizational leadership and teams in fostering trust. These are some highlights from our 2017 poster: Check it out here! Do’s and Don’ts to Foster Organizational Trust  



Your Personal and Professional Trust Quotient

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on January 6th, 2017    No Comments

Divorce and attrition – both are expensive and both are intricately connected to one’s trust quotient. The difference is that divorce is a personal matter, and attrition is a business concern. In situations where there is no specific event to blame, how does one explain compromised trust?

A highly trustworthy person immersed in a relationship with a perceived untrustworthy partner, whether at work or at home, will over time exhibit behaviors that likewise can appear untrustworthy. That is because one becomes more guarded upon discovering the other person is no longer worthy of his or her trust. So the question you must ask yourself is whether or not the other person you are reticent to trust is simply responding to what they experience as guarded behaviors in you.

Guarded behaviors include withholding information, eclipsing full information, eliciting information in indirect ways, and then questioning and double-checking when information is shared.  So what comes first, the chicken or the egg – i.e., you are either responding in guarded fashion to someone else’s questionable behaviors, or they have developed questionable behaviors in response to what they have perceived as guarded behaviors in you. This interesting phenomenon, known as reciprocal determinism, can help us understand how distrust, mistrust, and untrustworthy behaviors are all learned. The good news is that this means they can also be unlearned.

When the stakes are high, people tend to be motivated to change, which would suggest they would also be motivated to determine how much is them vs the other person. Separation and/or divorce can be expensive due to financing two households, not to mention the price of grief, sense of failure, impact on a child’s life, and so forth. Still, people tend to blame others rather than consider what might be their role in their failed relationship.  The same holds true at work, which is why leadership workshops can routinely help shed light on the topic through 360° feedbacks.

Many highly intelligent executives, investors, managers, or board members have been shocked to discover others perceive them as untrustworthy. I see it routinely in my work involving 360° feedbacks, such that any stakeholder in a business organization must consider that possibility. If you have any interest in corporate profits or monthly metrics, download this white paper from Trust Across America / Trust Around the World showing the researched relationship between trust and profitability as well as how to increase both With hard cash a proven function of trust level, one can no longer view trust as a soft skill. It’s a money maker.

Whether it is corporate trust or personal trust at stake, the work of restoring or growing it, starts at the level of the individual.  Fortunately, people become highly motivated to change when presented with insights connecting early family dynamics with their negative feedback involving compromised trust. Perhaps it’s easier to accept responsibility when negative feedback can be explained in part by early family-of-origin dynamics. Nevertheless, it is an avenue that opens the door to invigorating self-discovery that ultimately leads to relationship-and-team trustworthiness.


Emotional Intelligence and Trust: Another Angle on Building Relationships

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on September 30th, 2016    No Comments



Here is an excerpt from a September 26th Harvard Business Review article. “So how do you build client trust like this? You have to focus on listening. And I have observed two types of listeners: those who listen to respond and those who listen to listen. Let’s call the former the Encyclopedia and the latter the Empathizer. The Encyclopedia listens waiting to interrupt and tries to upstage the client with knowledge; he leaves the meeting proud of the wisdom or advice he imparted.  The Empathizer listens to understand issues, asks questions to “peel the onion,” and make the client comfortable and willing to share real concerns. The Empathizer leaves the meeting with the client asking for help on a specific assignment.”

In nutshell fashion this explains the cynicism surrounding the phrase “smartest guy in the room”. It explains the trite but oh-so-important saying “Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.”

Can a person develop empathy that is not currently apparent? Yes, a resounding yes! The fastest way is through an intensive, immersive group experience (aka a workshop) created by Empathizers. In this way the environment is safe for its members to forge a genuine connection between their head and their heart or their right brain and their left brain. This is a real phenomenon.  Never give up hope when it comes to building relationships.



Poor Eyesight and a Dead Tooth Due to Ineffective Leadership

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on August 31st, 2016    No Comments


Yes, you read that correctly. Too often we speak of leadership effectiveness within the context of managers and executives within the corporate world. Yet every human being has been victimized by someone’s inept leadership while providing a service, which could be related to the medical or manufacturing industry. I present these two true stories using anonymity to protect the innocent as well as the unaware (rather than guilty).

Poor eyesight:  She kept complaining to her provider that while her friends in the car could read billboards at amazingly far-off distances, why couldn’t she? The response she would receive from her practitioner over too many tolerated years had become increasingly hostile until he finally asked her to find another provider. Fast forward 6 months! “OMG,” she cried (literally, I’m talking about tears of joy!), “I can see the road signs and no longer make wrong turns! I can read subtitles from the kitchen sink rather than having to stand right in front of the TV.” The new provider had understood immediately why her vision tests were delivering invalid results and treated her with a supplement (not a prescription) for dry eyes, which allowed another vision test a few months later to deliver valid results. The new provider focused on resolving the problem rather than taking personally the faulty test results.

Dead Tooth:  She had chipped a crown and needed it replaced while her regular dentist was on vacation. The technician, using a monitor to determine if the “living tooth stub” was free of bacteria, scrubbed harshly, or more accurately, battered the stub for almost an hour until finally calling in the “real dentist,” who immediately recognized the technician was reading the screen improperly. It turns out what the technician had thought was bacteria was simply a shadow. Being all numbed up made it difficult to ascertain how serious the assault was on this tooth, but the woman later told the dentist her tooth had throbbed for almost 2 weeks following the assault.  The dentist response to her was, “You need to go to this specialist and get a root canal. That tooth is now dead.” The story does not end here. The woman had further complained that the new crown on the now dead tooth had a gap that caught food with each and every bite. The solution? “Here is how to floss that faulty crown fitting.” The story has a good ending. The woman returned “with hat in hand” to her former dentist whose practice was 30 minutes farther away and replaced that crown with one that looks great, offers a perfect fit, and costs $300 less. The inept dentist was too afraid to apologize for the obvious mistake and lost a valuable client.

Leadership effectiveness is for anyone who offers a service or product to another person. It boils down to actions that engender trust. The Wall Street Journal a few years ago had an article on its home page that offered statistics showing that people are less likely to sue and/or leave healthcare practitioners who apologize for their mistakes. However, I must add one caveat to these two true stories. Similar to those working in the corporate world, we need great leaders who are also great managers, which means they know their stuff. It appears the “eye doctor” may not have known his stuff, whereas, the dentist may have but didn’t protect the patient from the inept technician. Not acknowledging the loss of a perfectly healthy tooth due to the mistake literally added insult to injury.

Do you have a similar story? Leadership development is for everyone, not just those in corporate management positions.



Go public when expressing gratitude; go private when expressing disappointment.

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on June 13th, 2016    No Comments

Today’s post from Trust Across America – Trust Around the World:

Holly Latty-Mann offers this week’s advice. Holly is both a Top Thought Leader in Trust and an active member of our Trust Alliance.

Go public when expressing gratitude; go private when expressing disappointment.

While cultural differences do exist regarding response to positive public recognition, no company on record has ever lost an employee due to discomfort with public praise. David Sturt (HBR, November, 2015) shared findings that employees in the USA, India, and Mexico tend to revel in it, while those from Australia and the UK enjoy it with less fanfare. When publicly acknowledging the Japanese, Germans, and French, small-scale publicity is more appropriate.   

What about shame-based management via public chastisement? Not all employer humiliation or harassment is illegal as long as the verbal abuse is unrelated to demographics (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity). Perhaps that explains the high prevalence of managers belittling coworkers publicly on job performance, yet across all cultures, such behaviors are shown to compromise trust in management, for which statistical evidence clearly points to a compromised bottom line (

A final note:  Company morale goes respectively up or down when a single person is publicly honored or dishonored, and the literature is prolific with studies showing strong positive correlations among morale, productivity, and revenue.


Family-of-Origin Dynamics and the Office Drama Queen or King

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on May 18th, 2016    No Comments


So often we ponder why people do the things they do. We want to know and understand the triggers. In this way we perhaps can help disenable whatever those unproductive behaviors.

At first blush most people see drama queens and kings as troublemakers creating unnecessary drama through indirect and/or dysfunctional communication. From the perspective of the “dramatic ones,” they are defending themselves from what they perceive as threatening behaviors from others. They have yet to change their childhood programs and thus can end up engaging their environment not unlike Don Quixote attacking the windmills. They score touchdowns in the wrong end zone. They bark up trees where no cats exist. How can this be?

Not always, but often times, drama queens and kings grow up in families where they witness senseless arguments between their parents, which then can trickle down amongst them with their siblings. It is during these times, the adrenaline system of the children will activate placing them within the fight or flight response mode.  Multiple warning signals (e.g., parents’ raised voices) can tax the adrenaline system in a way that not unlike an addiction, the child becomes addicted to this energizing chemical.

Fast forward to post graduation years in which the workplace or home-place likewise produces opportunities for more drama. In other words, consider the need for an adrenaline fix but no stimulus out there to activate the adrenaline system. Unknowingly (and sometimes even knowingly), this adult child creates the drama that expectantly will deliver the much desired adrenaline rush.

Once the rush is over, there can be tremendous regret in realizing the aftermath did not create the desired result. Admitting ownership is fairly rare amongst the drama queens and kings; they thus tend to double up their efforts to prove their original stance was “right”.   This explains how oftentimes those addicted to drama engage in black-white thinking, which is the antithesis to mature, reasonable perspectives and subsequent decision-making.

The good news is that through programmed self-awareness AND self-responsibility initiatives, these self-defeating and other-defeating behavioral patterns can indeed be eliminated or certainly ameliorated.


Leadership Effectiveness and Early Family Dynamics: Research Findings along with Insights Inspired by My Mom’s Recent Death

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on April 19th, 2016    No Comments


My mom recently, suddenly passed away, allowing the upside of grief to manifest in writing about the influence of early family dynamics on leadership effectiveness later on in life. To clarify what I mean by leadership effectiveness, I’m working this topic within the context of trust issues, the cornerstone of top-quality leadership. How well do you trust your leaders? Your spouse or partner? Yourself? How well do others trust you? How does one learn to trust, to distrust, to engender trust? Obviously there are times when it is healthy NOT to trust. One thing is certain – the trustworthiness of leaders (and lovers) has determined the building or destroying of nations,  organizations, and on a more microcosmic level, intimate relationships.

I’ve often said if you can get your 2 year-old to do what you want, you’ve just demonstrated great leadership prowess. After all, two year olds tend to do only that which they want to do. Then the two-year-olds grow up, form adult love relationships, and ultimately land a job in the corporate world. How does this adult child inspire others to do what needs to be done to achieve corporate goals, or for that matter, live happily ever after? The basic common denominator here is trust. Without it, we don’t enter contracts, or we suffer unknowingly by sealing untrustworthy ones.

My dissertation was based upon attachment theory. Just google Leadership and Attachment Theory, and you’ll be flooded with data speaking to this topic. Credit for this theory goes to Ainsworth and Bowlby, who won the most prestigious scientific contribution award by the American Psychological Association back in 1989, and to this day the theory continues to draw heavy scientific focus. Attachment theory started methodologically looking at how young children would respond to their mother upon her return following a separation, thereby allowing the majority of these children to be easily categorized as secure, anxious, or avoidant. It’s important to highlight the work of Shaver and Hazan who extended this work to include adult attachment styles – i.e., what happens to these young children when they grow up and enter adult relationships, both at work and in their personal life. Although unaware of one another’s work, my research and that of Bartholomew at Stanford determined a 4th style from the remaining unclassified percentage, all bearing features of both the opposing anxious and avoidant styles. So how does all this relate to leadership?

Having read thousands of feedbacks for executives and managers for over two decades,  I have found behavioral patterns fit the aforementioned styles as follows: 1) Those into controlling people and outcomes tend to bear the anxious attachment style, 2) those who tend to shut down or display a more passive leadership style tend to fit the avoidant style, and 3) those described as predictably fair and generally unproblematic would fit the secure attachment style. The fourth style is the most unpredictable of all four styles, and without intervention, likely creates unintended but periodic drama resulting in unstable relationships.

Insights from both my own family background and findings from my doctoral dissertation have provided additional support for today’s research on “leadership styles a la attachment styles”.  Prior to the recent death of my mother, she took an unusual interest in a book I’m writing on the influence of family dynamics on later leadership effectiveness. She provided with a raw honesty an informal documentary on how our own family dynamics have played out – not all of them good.  For example, for too many years I was what I have coined a “dysfunctional pleaser” in response to my dad’s alcoholism. I am also walking testimony that one can absolutely change for the better.

It’s important to note that one need not come from a family described as dysfunctional to exhibit poor leadership qualities. Likewise, there are plenty of leaders in the corporate world who are well esteemed and yet experienced compromised family-of-origin dynamics. Finally, it’s important to note that no matter where one’s original family fits on the continuum of early family bliss/dysphoria, one cannot be human and not have created some beliefs that interfere with his or her full expression of potential. Family dynamics simply provide a milieu that can facilitate or stress the manifestation of one’s desires and goals. Because there exist countless anecdotes showing how the human spirit can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, there is no reason why mainstream leaders can’t take these insights and dissolve whatever ceiling their self-limiting beliefs may have created from decades earlier.  This should be good fodder for a future blog. Look for Leaders Stripped Naked: The Power of Exposure.       


Managers on Anti-Depressants/Anti-Anxiety Meds – A Radical Angle on Workplace Stress

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on February 26th, 2016    4 Comments


One out of four women in their 40s and 50s takes anti-depressants. This means if you are a woman reading this, you could be reading about yourself as well as quite a few of your female coworkers, your children’s teachers, etc.  The New York Times reported on this topic after the study was published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics almost three years ago.  There is no reason to believe that this statistic has improved. Because research has shown that men are more inclined to turn to alcohol to manage depressing stress, their percentages are a mere one out of ten. Still, that’s a lot of psychotropic medication within the corporate world.

So what are the implications for managers “on drugs”? The radical angle I present is related to a little known fact about the paradoxical effects of anti-depressants. As a licensed clinical psychologist (internship at Duke Medical Center), I also wish to speak to a better way to reclaim your smile and joy without the use of psychotropic medication.

Few people realize that while anti-depressants can numb the edge off of despair, they also numb one’s capacity to experience joy.  Ever thought about what that does to one’s authenticity as a leader? It’s nearly impossible to exude the same level of inspirational, motivational leadership while taking psychotropics. Something “flat” within the personality seems to find its way into conversations and discussions. People sense when one is not 100%, and this interferes with eliciting their full trust.

Read more…

Tips on Successful Confrontation: Feedback Processes that Work

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on January 18th, 2016    1 Comment

Let’s say you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation in which you need to tell someone that his or her performance or behavior is problematic – or some other bad news.  Furthermore, you can anticipate a reaction that will likely be a bit unpleasant.  What do you do?

This may sound too simplistic, but first and foremost, you need to just make up your mind to do it.  Go ahead and acknowledge that it feels just as stressful not doing it as it does doing it.  You already know what happens – or rather what doesn’t – when you do not confront a situation that is well within your rights.  So, choose the other “feel bad” position, and do it.  

Here are some tips to help you with that. Start off by giving yourself a “thought transplant” regarding the nature of confrontation before you even engage the other person.  Confrontation, which comes from the Greek language for “gather data,” is simply the sharing of either negative or discrepant information, and does not have to involve conflict or emotionality.  But if you believe that it does, then you will likely fail at it.  That is because such a belief will create a state of fear within you as you approach the target person(s). It is your “fear state” that they sense that puts them on the defensive.  Thus, they likely won’t hear your message but rather will react to what they sense as a threat coming from you. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “What you are speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you’re saying.”

 And forget being “forceful”.  In case you think that acting a bit aggressive in your delivery style will discourage them from introducing conflict, think again.  Any hint of anger on your part almost always invites resistance and diminishes your credibility.  Whether you are aware of it or not, anger tends to be a subtle cover-up for fearThat is why you are actually giving away your power every time you engage in angry expression.  Even if the other person seemingly acquiesces to your anger, they likely will not be embracing your message. Again, and to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, they are so focused on the essence of your delivery system that your words get lost in the emotionality of it.

So anger is not an option. You’ve now decided to proceed in calm fashion despite being aware of your discomfort (fear). This means that you are now ready to speak your peace. So how do you phrase it so that they can hear you without getting defensive?  Consider using introductory and qualifying statements along with “fact focus” as follows:

1) You’ll maximize your chances of inviting a receptive response by using introductory statements/inquiries such as asking them if they’d be open to receiving some feedback from you.  “Would this be a good time for me to share with you some observations I have concerning the status of the X Project?”

2) Then, employ qualifying statements such as the following to show you are coming from a spirit of support for them:  “Because I’m in your corner and want to see both you and the company win, I’d like to share with you some observations I’ve had regarding work performance challenges within Project X.”

3) Finally, focus on the facts and not the person.  This means that you are focusing on what is or is not working rather than who is right or wrong.  “Our figures show that your division is behind at a production rate of 12% when compared to all others.  Help me understand what challenges may be going on, so that I can look into finding ways to help you.”  These kinds of statements start a dialogue, one in which it becomes clear if the challenges are legitimate ones.

Should the problem be one that suggests this individual be replaced, again focus on the facts without emotionality yet with compassion by saying at the appropriate time that you would be happy to offer support in his or her search for a position more suitable to their skills, which may possibly mean employment elsewhere.

Otherwise, if the problem is one in which the person is allowed to improve his or her performance, end the session by having them agree to construct either a strategic/tactical plan or a personalized action plan (depending on the  nature of the problem at hand) that includes specific new behaviors/tactics/strategies along with feedback loops and feasible completion dates. By involving the target person(s) in this strategic planning process, they are more likely to exhibit ownership in the desired outcome behaviors and thus achieve them.




3 Top Tips for Harmony While Home for the Holidays

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on December 23rd, 2015    No Comments

Since leadership is all about relationships, try these tips when visiting your family-of-origin over the holidays. So often and almost like a reset button, you may notice old familiar and sometimes unwanted family dynamics surfacing, not to mention certain topics that should have retired years ago.

It is likewise helpful to keep in mind how we may not realize how our concern over the possibility of such unwanted behaviors may influence subtle changes in our own manner of communicating, thereby unintentionally bringing on the very thing we wish to avoid. What to do?

  1. When Brother Bob imposes corrective, unsolicited advice, consider a simple “Thank you for sharing that,” rather than a defense, the latter of which can give away a certain amount of self-respect.
  2. When probing parents seek intimate details of your life that you find somewhat inappropriate, a simple “Thank-you for caring about me and my life. As I put greater definition on my circumstances, I will remember your interest.”
  3. Finally, infuse statements of gratitude and appreciation early on to set a positive family home temperament whereby you may not need to employ tips 1 and 2.

In social psychology, Bandura offered the concept “reciprocal determinism” to underscore how our responses to others determine whether we promote family harmony or dysharmony, not a whole lot different from those dynamics that go on at work. That’s the quiet power of effective leadership at work and at home.