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Dr. Holly Latty-Mann's Blog

Top Two “Opposing” Trust Challenges for Managers (A Specific Example on How to Engender Trust)

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on November 20th, 2015    No Comments

While establishing trust between and among managers and others continues as a hot topic, those in the leadership development industry strive to offer as many specific examples as possible to support those managers who are motivated to implement trust-inspiring specifics.

But first, take a look at the following top two “opposing” leadership challenges in managers:  (1) they can be overly protective of their own respective areas while engaging in pushback behaviors with not only their own manager but their senior management teams as well, or (2) they can be harsh on their own direct reports while subservient and compliant with their own manager and management team.

Trust is paramount in leadership and must be equally shared amongst all work associates except in those obvious instances in which sensitive material has been selectively entrusted. When we treat groups of people differently – or play favorites, for that matter – we lose credibility, and trust erodes.

Here is one specific example of how one president engendered trust between himself and his direct reports. I had never encountered it before yesterday until I worked with a management team who months earlier had received feedback from their direct reports and now were interested in receiving peer feedback for comparison. The feedback process allowed everyone to hear anonymously the feedback profiles of their remaining team members; however, the feedback of the president was distinctive in nature and could not be presented anonymously using the same format. What to do?

The evening before the team building retreat, I called the president and explained the situation and asked him if he would be willing to read his feedback out loud in front of everyone.  Keep in mind he had no idea what was in the content of his feedback. Without a moment’s hesitation he said, “Absolutely.”  The following day he did just that. He offered his team transparency along with a commitment to work on those areas brought to his attention. I suggested in front of the team he elicit more specific feedback from everyone to ensure he has a working (operational) definition of what those new behaviors would look like, thereby ensuring his success.

A great leader stood before us that day. He knew he had to show trust to earn trust.

You may ask in light of this topic, could he do that with those beyond his own team members? That issue came up when 15 emergent leaders joined his team following the feedback process. Had there not been sensitive material within that which he read, he would have done so, and he explained the situation to everyone. What happened next was an opportunity for open discussion. Yes, there were some awkward moments, yet everyone agreed that their culture was one that provided safety in expressing concerns. What could have been perceived as a gap between management and non-management members was transformed into a spirit of heightened trust. It is now clear to everyone what must happen to continue growing that culture of trust.

Everyone witnessed when we show trust, we create the opportunity for others to trust us back.


Leadership and Self-Perception

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on October 19th, 2015    No Comments

There is a ton of literature on leadership and self-awareness. What about leadership and self-perception? It is different, and it is quite compelling, too. “People who accept themselves accept others,” and “People who hate themselves hate others” – are words I read this morning by Richard Rohr.  Immediately I recognized a strong pattern from 3 decades of helping managers and executives improve their leadership demeanor.

Driven, demanding managers are hard on themselves AND others. Those who are perfectionistic tend to demand the same from others. Humanity therefore must start on our own turf. The degree to which we are self-accepting, self-forgiving, and self-caring tends to mirror the degree to which we go about accepting, forgiving and caring about others.

This short blog would be on the ho-hum side if I didn’t add a critical observation regarding the aforementioned. Driven managers who upon slowing down tend to be pleasantly surprised to discover more work somehow seems to get done. Slowing down correlates with taking better care of self and therefore others. Our demeanor appears less threatening when we appear less rushed, and people are more productive when their social environment is experienced as less threatening.

Oh, and one other thing – when you engage yourself in a more humane manner, the people who work and live with you actually can look physically different to you. I believe it has to do with seeing everyone as a real live human being with a heartbeat. I’m thinking we might miss that when we’re in a mad rush. Apparently slowing down gives the sense that we truly do care about others, and as the age-old adage goes, “Nobody cares what you know unless they know that you care.”


When One Personality Appears to Control the Clueless Chief

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on September 16th, 2015    No Comments

It was many years ago when I had my first experience of a senior management member controlling the CEO. Since then I’ve seen this happen a good dozen times, and one common feature across all the various situations is that the top brass appears to be totally unaware – OR does, in fact, feel the tension yet wants to believe the others are unaware.

The subtleties are endless:

  1. The “controlling one” operates under the guise of being indispensable (e.g., performing as a filtering agent to protect the head honcho),
  2. The chief is psychologically attached (the controlling one reminds him or her of a family member…this could be either good or bad),
  3. The chief seems to know that things could get ugly if the controlling one is not allowed to feel special,
  4. The chief perceives a political threat not to have the controlling one within his or her inner circle, and
  5. The list could go on, and it does.

Or in a surprise twist, could it be that the perceived controlling one really doesn’t want that relationship and is only responding to please his or her boss?

Regardless of what describes the underpinnings to what everyone notices, trust erosion is inevitable. Yes, sometimes the clueless emperor stands psychologically naked before his or her people. So how can this situation be rectified?


The Leadership-Authenticity Connection

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

Leadership is all about relationships, and authenticity is all about making meaningful human connections that feel natural and real. So how does one nurture experiencing his or her true self such that these connections come easily?

Read more…

A unique angle on leadership through perceptions management

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on July 1st, 2015    No Comments

Have you ever known someone who was color blind? They might see gray for green or red.  That is their reality, and they will not budge in their perception of that which they are seeing (at least not until they learn they are color blind!).

So it is with the lenses through which we view others. That employee who sees through his lens of negativity or her lens of judgmentalism is certain that his or her views represent reality. I call these people “human viruses” because they infect others within the organizations by either demoralizing or dehumanizing them.

Some people are nicely immune to these “human viruses” by avoiding interactions with them at any cost, even at the expense of ultimately hurting the bottom line. After all, you have to work with certain others to get the job done.

So how do you get the human virus to peer into the psychological mirror? Too often their negativity and judgmentalism have served the purpose of warding off honest feedback. Be on the lookout for subsequent blogs speaking to the issue of how to get negative people to see themselves through the eyes of others.

But first, imagine a company culture where people see one another through lenses of trust.


Trust and Honest Feedback: Up Close and Personal

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on June 9th, 2015    No Comments

“Trust me. I’m just being brutally honest here.” When I hear the phrase “brutally honest,” it does not create a feeling of trustworthiness. For trust to abound, one must feel safe. That would suggest when receiving constructive feedback, one must be able to trust the spirit in which the feedback is given.

While much is to be learned from constructive feedback, even when given from someone unconcerned with others’ feelings, the inspiration and motivation to change is dampened by potential trust issues with the messenger. One starts to wonder about their hidden agendas or real motivations in sharing their critical overviews.

But what if the feedback receiver is perhaps too sensitive such that any constructive feedback, even from those trustworthy, is met with a sense of compromised trust? Consider the following four suggestions:

  • Tone of voice. I know trustworthy people who are still working on the authenticity piece, and they unknowingly can sound like they are talking “at” or “to” others rather than simply “with” them. It is as if some people have worked hard to create a persona of authority and somehow can’t seem to find their way back to just being themselves. I like to refer to the value of using one’s own “fireside chat” tone of voice.
  • Consider using introductory qualifying phrases that create a sense of safety. Therefore, instead of “brutal honesty” as an introductory phrase, consider something along the lines of, “Because I’m in your corner and want to see you grow your success ratio, I need to share an observation for your consideration.”
  • Simply ask the person to whom you have just given feedback if there could have been a better way to share the same message? By posing such a question, one is saying, “I care about you and want to make a positive difference for you.” You may discover some feedback of value as well in their response.
  • Ask following any tough conversation, “What can I do for you to feel more supported by me?”

Leaders can repeat core principles and company values throughout the day, but if their demeanor fails to make meaningful human connections with others, they will be hard pressed to create a culture of trust, which can be done one person at a time through a trust-inspired feedback process. Even in large companies, the ripple effect can expedite a positive shift in the company culture, because those who felt humanized and motivated by the feedback process will not only speak to their positive feedback experience but will also be more likely to treat others in a similar trustworthy fashion.



De-compartmentalizing™: A New Frontier for Restoring Trust and Profit

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on June 2nd, 2015    1 Comment

Either because it is misunderstood or unrecognized, de-compartmentalizing has yet to take its place at the forefront of expediting or restoring trust and therefore profit in the corporate world. Taken to the home front, de-compartmentalizing can restore devitalized relationships (love). So what is it? It starts with acknowledging that we as humans must stop compartmentalizing our home-self from work-self because the two are interwoven into the very fabric of our success ratio both personally and professionally.  Saying, “Just suck it up” is unrealistic for the (wo)man at work dealing with depression, hidden alcoholism, the messy divorce. It is also unrealistic for those at work who are responsible for both the wellbeing of the suffering employee AND the financials to look the other way and hope it will pass. It is reckless to wait and see simply because the solution seems beyond the confines of a work setting. The methodology involved in de-compartmentalizing offers a solid foundation for the creation and/or restoration of relationship trust and profit.


Leadership Development Methodologies: What Do People Really Want?

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on April 29th, 2015    No Comments

It was the aftermath of 9/11, and The Leadership Trust® noticed a preponderance of die-hard workaholic managers and executives showing an almost overnight interest in rekindling their family fires. How did this impact the delivery of our leadership development programs? This signaled what Generations X and Y really want in a leadership program. We thus made two immediate major changes followed by some major changes today:  1) We faded out our weekend-format programs over the course of 4 years, and today we offer a wellbeing program, the benefits of which trans-generalize to work. So it was the tragedy of 9/11 that expedited the manifestation of these changes.

That’s not all that changed. I distinctly remember speaking to a room packed with Systems Engineers. More specifically, I was surrounded by brilliant, left-brained rocket scientists (literally, these were NASA scientists). It was immediately evident that anytime I spoke to personal relationship dynamics, whether marriage, parenting, or simply self-reflection beyond work issues, their body language changed dramatically indicating intense engagement (e.g., leaned forward in their seats, nodded occasionally, glanced around in agreement with others). There was what appeared to be an insatiable hunger for what could nurture a meaningful human connection with their loved ones. Resultantly, we promoted opportunities to strengthen family relationships as part of our leadership programs. These were opportunities only, meaning nobody had to comply with including family feedbacks, and neither did they have to share anything beyond work.

The results were remarkable with regard to immediate permanent positive change at work. Why? Just as work affects home, home also affects work, yet it was the stronger motivation to change for the sake of their loved ones that ultimately impacted those changes at work.

Finally, I remember thinking the real secret to effective leadership was getting everyone to hunger for meaningful human connections at work. So I started asking the simple question, “How do you want your adult children’s manager to treat them when they make a mistake, solve a problem, or come to him or her with a problem?” Your answer is your roadmap to the next higher level in effective leadership. Those visionary leaders upon promoting these kinds of meaningful relationships at work soon find solid support for their company vision.

As lofty as this may sound, if everyone were mindful of their work relationships as described herein, world peace would become feasible rather than simply that for which we hope and pray.


Coach K’s Key to National Championship is also Key to Highly Effective Leadership: “Attitude is Never a Problem…Allows for Creativity.”

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on April 7th, 2015    No Comments

Managers can learn a lot about effective leadership from Coach K’s comments following Duke’s 2015 National Championship for men’s basketball last night. When managers catch on to what creates team cohesion and collaboration at its best, they also get to enjoy team harmony, all because attitude is never an issue or problem.  Coach K talks “with” his players, not “at” them or “to” them. He connects with them on a meaningful human level because he sees them at the seat of their soul, much the way parents see and appreciate the uniqueness of their children. What makes Coach K special is he sees each of his players as Somebody’s baby all grown up playing their hearts out in exchange for the respect and firm support he has given them. Not all that different from effective parenting, he further knows how to set firm parameters regarding life beyond the court, which is clearly pivotal for how things play out on the court. Again, Coach K can count on healthy compliance in exchange for his mature, humanistic leadership.

The Leadership Trust® enjoyed an alliance with Coach K’s Center on Leadership and Ethics shortly after relocating from Greensboro to Durham more than a decade ago, and frankly speaking, I have learned more about leadership from observing Coach K with his players than any other aspect of his Center. Likewise, as a Duke Alumna from my internship at Duke Medical Center, I further learned more about leadership from Dr. Ara Tourian, a now-retired neurosurgeon with whom I made rounds for a year, than the hospital itself. The point I’m making is people follow people, not companies and not departments. When you create a positive experience for one to have of himself or herself in your presence, that’s a key piece to creating team cohesion, collaboration, and harmony – one team member at a time.



Avoiding Confrontation Erodes Credibility and Trust: Part II

  Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on February 17th, 2015    1 Comment

Part I (posted on November 12, 2014) offered when conscientious people learn they are perceived as shirking responsibility and untrustworthy any time they avoid conflict or confrontation, they become motivated to have that much needed conversation. By considering a “confrontation” as simply a “conversation,” you can dissipate your fear level which resultantly increases the likelihood of taking action, thereby opening the door to restoring credibility and trust. Engaging in a conversation that feels more like a fire-side chart immediately signals to the other person that you are coming from a spirit of support rather than criticism. As such, your message is more likely to be regarded as trustworthy.

Part II has to do when you are being the one confronted. The two most common dysfunctional responses to being confronted are 1) shutting down, and 2) defending. Most people have not been taught how to successfully confront those whose performance or attitude is suffering, which explains why their confrontation is often times met with some form of defiance. Once again, you have the opportunity to create yet another fireside chat by simply responding to confrontation with “Tell me more. I’d like to make improvements.” This opens up a dialogue in which information is shared to determine what is working and not working, rather than who is right or wrong. Trust is immediately maintained or restored when the focus is on a superordinate goal rather than who is right or wrong.

Similar to how it’s easier on facial muscles to smile rather than frown, it is much easier on the human psyche and stress level to come from a place of trust rather than self-protection.