Posts Tagged ‘blaming others’

the quintessential leader building trust and being trust worthy book

In the first post of this series, the excerpt from chapter 1 included a list of all the components we must develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy.

In the subsequent chapter excerpts detailing the components we need to have and develop to build trust and be trustworthy, chapter 2 discusses honesty, chapter 3 discusses integrity, and chapter 4 discusses fairness.

This post, which includes an excerpt from chapter 5, discusses the component of righting wrongs that builds trust and makes us trustworthy.

It seems for us humans that admitting we were wrong, made a mistake, or totally screwed up is the hardest thing for us to do.

However, if we are not able to do this, then we can’t fix what we’ve broken and we can’t right what and/or we’ve wronged.

The ability to immediately own and immediately make right being wrong, the mistakes we make, and those colossal screw-ups that we all have in our lives is a part of character that is sadly lacking in most people in leadership positions today. 

That is one of the reasons why things spiral further out of control in a negative direction, why things get even more broken to the point of being beyond repair, and why there is so little trust in people in leadership positions. 

It doesn’t do any good to say “trust me” when all we’ve shown is an inability to be trustworthy at all, because we continue to leave ever-growing trails of unadmitted and unfixed breaks, wrongs, and disasters behind us.

Actions will always speak louder than words.

Building trust and being trustworthy is an integrated trait of quintessential leaders.

It is also an integrated trait that all of us – because each and every one of us leads at least one team, small or large, of people in our lives – need to develop and have as part of the core of who we are and what we are. In essence, this trait is at the center of exemplary character and conduct, and none of us should settle for anything less than this in ourselves and others.

Unfortunately, most of us settle for less. A lot less. In ourselves. In others. 

The majority of people in leadership positions today are not trust builders and they are not trustworthy. Many of us, frankly, are also not trust builders and trustworthy.

We live in a world that with no moral code as its foundation that expects trust to be non-existent or broken. Look around. It’s everywhere, including, in many cases, very close to you.

And society has become so accustomed to this that it glorifies it instead of condemning it.

Politicians who lie routinely, who line their pockets with money and perks while making decisions that hurt and destroy the people they are supposed to represent, who cheat on their wives because they can.

Arts and sports celebrities who have no regard for faithfulness to their spouses, who live hedonistic lifestyles that destroy their families, the people around them, and, eventually their lives.

Religious leaders who cheat on their wives, who cheat on their taxes, and who scam their congregations both in how they deceitfully handle the word of God and in coercive and corrupt financial matters, acquiring wealth and power in the process.

Business leaders who destroy millions of lives by deceit, fraud, and illegal actions that result in their employees and customers losing everything while they escape any kind of punitive action and instead reap obscene profits and end their tenures – only to go to another financially lucrative position – with golden parachutes that are equally obscene.

And we, as individual leaders for our teams, who cheat on our taxes, who are routinely dishonest with the children (our own and others) and other people entrusted to us, who routinely steal things from our workplaces (you most likely didn’t pay for that pen you’re using at work, so it doesn’t belong to you), who routinely break traffic laws, who will walk out of stores with something we were not charged for and never think twice about it, who will take extra money that we’re not owed in financial transactions without blinking an eye, who cheat on our spouses, who marry until “divorce do us part,” and who, as a course of habit, break confidences of family and friends, gossip about family and friends behind their backs, and destroy reputations in the process.

Maybe we haven’t thought about building trust and being trustworthy at this kind of nitty gritty level.

But until we do – and we develop and have this trait as the core of who and what we are – we will not build trust and we will not be trustworthy. And we will not be quintessential leaders.

Trust and trustworthiness is probably the single most important trait we can possess. And it is also the most fragile.

It can take a long time to build and be, but it can be broken irreparably in a single second.

Therefore, this is a lifetime work on and in ourselves that we must commit to making an integral part of our character by continually developing it, maintaining it, and growing it. 

This goal should be our goal.

But it requires courage. It requires diligence. It requires vigilance. It requires continual self-examination. It requires continual change. It requires the ability to, much of the time, stand alone to maintain.

It is not for the faint-hearted. It is not for the vacillators. It is not for the crowd-pleasers. It is not for the pretenders. It is not for the wannabes. It is not for the weak.

But if you’re reading this, I know that you’re not any of those kinds of people. Those kinds of people won’t even read this because it requires time, effort, change, and commitment, and too many of us are, sadly, either just too lazy or we just don’t care. 

Building Trust and Being Trustworthy takes an in-depth look at the “this is what it looks like in practice” aspect of each of the components we need to develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy. The second chapter discusses the component of honesty in building trust and being trustworthy.


Excerpt from”Chapter 5: The Righting Wrongs Component of Trust and Trustworthiness”

This chapter is one in which we’ll tackle a subject that addresses the heart of a quintessential leader. It is true that no one really knows our hearts completely except for God. However, behavior (actions and words) indicates the state of our character (good or bad) and character indicates the state of our inner selves – the heart.

I believe one of the most difficult things for all of us to do is to admit we made a mistake, we were wrong, or we screwed up. There is something intrinsic in us that wants to avoid that, deny that, excuse that, justify that, or even blame it on someone else.

This reticence to own up, to take responsibility for all of our words and actions will be addressed fully in an upcoming chapter on another of the components of trust and trustworthiness, which is accountability.

But the fact that we all wrestle with the admission of wrong-doing, in whatever form those words and/or actions took – and until we admit wrong-doing, we cannot right wrong-doing – shows that this is a quintessential leader trait we must be consciously working to both acquire and practice consistently. Without it, we will not be quintessential leaders. 

There are many examples of the fallout from being unwilling to admit and then to right wrongs that we can look at to see, as quintessential leaders, what not to do.

I will briefly summarize a few here, but I strongly encourage you to research on your own the many more examples from history, religion, society, and public life where wrongs were not admitted to and corrected to see how devastating the results were and to understand the things that each of us must be on guard to not repeat in our own lives and leadership of others.

I also strongly encourage each of us to look at our own lives for examples where we have not exhibited this quintessential leader trait.

Unfortunately, we all have them. We may not be in a position to go back and fix them all – if we are, we should – but we have the opportunity to learn the lessons and change so that we are consistently admitting, without excuses and blame, and righting our wrongs immediately.

There are two examples of people in leadership positions who lacked this quintessential leader trait in the Bible that stand out in my mind every time I read about them and I literally shake my head that they were unwilling to do anything about it, even though the consequences were dire and long-term.

Paula Deen, in the way she has conducted herself at every step of the way in her current situation, has shown herself to be an unquintessential leader.

First, Paula Deen showed – in case you think this is “no big deal” – herself to be a bully (this falls under the unquintessential leadership trait of bullying) and to have a prevailing lack of personal integrity and self-discipline.

Part of personal integrity is having and demonstrating respect for everyone. Personal integrity also has high standards of conduct and will not engage in – or allow – behavior or speech that denigrates and disrepects another human being. Self-discipline enforces personal integrity.

Second, after Paula Deen had failed on this part of quintessential leadership, although she had opportunities to redeem herself and prove that she was a quintessential leader who made a mistake, but was eager to rectify it and make it right immediately, she continues to show unquintessential leadership.

The first thing a quintessential leader does when he or she realizes they’ve screwed up – and we all do it as long as we breathe for a living – is to correct it and make amends. Matthew 5:25 gives quintessential leadership advice on how to handle someone suing you.

Had Paula Deen been a quintessential leader, she would have initiated a one-on-one meeting with her former employee as soon as she learned of the lawsuit and Paula Deenapologized and asked her former employee how she could make amends to her. Granted that takes a lot of humility, which quintessential leaders also have, but it would have resolved the issue between them and the general public would have probably never heard about it.

Instead, Paula Deen responded to the lawsuit in a deposition that made it even more clear how little personal integrity and self-discipline she possesses. It’s enough to make all of us who are striving to be quintessential leaders cringe most of the way through it.

Her inability to see the seriousness and hurtfulness of her mindset – because how we think is how we talk and act – in her speech and behavior and to accept it as “okay” or “normal” is more proof that Paula Deen is an unquintesssential leader.

Inset statement here: All of us who are Southerners should be cringing as well and putting a lot of distance between ourselves and Paula Deen. Paula Deen does not and will never represent me as a Southerner. We are not all like that. I apologize on behalf of Paula Deen and tell you that her speech and her behavior is wrong, unacceptable, and should not and will not, by me anyway, be tolerated in any way, shape, or form.

After Paula Deen’s deposition became public, she once again had an opportunity to own up and make it right all the way around, as quintessential leaders will eventually do. She failed again.

Instead of taking responsibility and correcting everything on the spot, Paula Deen showed the unquintessential leadership trait of pointing the finger everywhere but at herself. She blamed the South and the time she grew up in as the reason she is a bigot and disrepectful in her treatment of and behavior and speech toward African-Americans.

When that statement became public, Paula Deen yet again had an opportunity to humble herself and be a quintessential leader and take full responsibility and commit to changing herself and making amends.

And, once again, she failed. Her three anemic attempts to “apologize” were not apologies. They did not include a sincere and heartfelt apology where she acknowledged that she was wrong, she needs to and will change, and she will make amends to everybody affected (not just her former employee who is suing).

Paula Deen made it obvious that, in her mind, she stills believes what she demonstrated in her speech and behavior toward this employee and her deposition, but she felt forced to do something to try to save her gig with the Food Network and keep her $17 million dollar brand from imploding.

But there was nothing real, sincere, humbled, or changed behind any of her words. As with all unquintessential leaders, it was talking the talk with no intention of walking the walk.

food-networkAfter seeing these three videos, the Food Network did indeed say they would not renew her contract when it expires at the end of the month.

That was the right thing for the Food Network to do.

And, you know what, I really hope at some point that Paula Deen comes around and understands, acknowledges, really apologizes, makes amends, and makes the changes she needs to make. That’s my prayer for her. She’s got a lot of talent, but a lot of talent doesn’t make you a good person, nor does it make you right, nor does it make you a quintessential leader. 

Now, as quintessential leaders, we need to take some time  to review our own mindsets and how that comes out in our speech and behavior. Do we have personal integrity and self-discipline? Do we care? Or do we just go along with whatever the people around us are doing?

Quintessential leaders set the highest standards for ourselves. And we adhere to them, not when it’s convenient, not when we feel like it, but all the time. Even if it means we’re standing all by ourselves. It’s an act of courage, as indeed our lives are lived by many acts of courage that often swim constantly against the prevailing tide of unquintessential leadership that exists just about everywhere today.

So, let’s be courageous and be the quintessential leaders we say we are striving to be. It’s not the easy path and it’s not a whole lot of fun sometimes, especially when we screw up, but it’s the only way that we’ve committed ourselves to be.

My sister bought a pet storm door from Lowe’s in Matthews, NC about a year ago. Over time, several parts on the door proved defective. She had a one-year warranty on the door, so about two months ago, she contacted Lowe’s and they sent a contract installer out to fix the door.

He had all the parts he needed except one and told her he would order the part and have it shipped to her house for installation that week. The part never arrived and the many subsequent calls to Lowe’s about the part were a lot of empty promises, but no results.

It's Not My FaultYesterday, I called and asked to speak to the store manager. When he answered the phone, I began to explain the problem and the first thing he said as he interrupted me before I finished was that the store doesn’t do the installations, so it wasn’t his fault, but instead the installer’s fault.

I politely told him that Lowe’s sold the door, so ultimately the responsibility was theirs, so he needed to get it taken care of. He said “I’ll call you right back.”

Thirty minutes later, I called back. When he answered, I reminded him that he’d told me he’d call right back. He was clearly annoyed and said he had just hung up with me ten minutes before. I told him it had been thirty minutes, and the reason I was calling back was this was the same thing that my sister had been listening to in repeated phone calls for about six weeks and there were never any calls back.

I made it clear that the problem had been unresolved long enough and I wanted a solution. I could hear by the tone of his voice that he was irritated, but he told me – which I doubt – that he was on the phone with the installation company, throwing in one more time that the problem was not Lowe’s’ fault. I told him I expected a resolution within the hour.

The installation company’s manager called me about five minutes later. I explained, without interruption, the problem and he told me that he’d get an installer out today if Lowe’s had the part needed in stock. I told him that this was poor leadership and poor customer service and that my sister shopped often at Lowe’s for home improvement items, but there were other home improvement choices within sight of Lowe’s and the odds were good she was going to be taking her future business there. He listened and he got it.

Just a few minutes later he called back and said an installer would be at my sister’s house between 9 am and 10 am this morning to do the installation. I thanked him.

The time frame came and went this morning (my sister had a dentist appointment at 11 am this morning) with noUnquintessential Leadership

‘I counted internally to ten to get my temper under control and then told him politely but firmly that the internal problems of communication, follow-up, and completion of jobs between Lowe’s and the installation company were not my concern as a customer. The door was purchased at Lowe’s and all subsequent work was coordinated by Lowe’s, so the responsibility was his as the store manager. I told him to get it resolved or I would have no choice but to escalate it to the Lowe’s corporate office.

He said he’d call me back once he got it resolved. Not only did he not call back, but he did not bother to call the installation company either. At 10:55 am, while my sister and I were at the dentist’s office waiting for her to go back, the installer called and said he was at the house and asked if anyone was home.

I explained that no one was there and that was why the appointment was scheduled between 9 am and 10 am – he then started making excuses about why he was late (I asked why he didn’t call this morning if he knew he was running late and we could have rescheduled, and he gave me another set of excuses) – so he’d have to come back. Supposedly, he will be here tomorrow morning between 8 am and 8:30 am.

The store manager at the Matthews, NC Lowe’s exhibited pure unquintessential leadership. It is clear that he doesn’t have a big-picture understanding that losing customers affects the company’s profits and when corporate profits fall, stores close and this one could well be one of those that closes and he will be out of work.

Had he been a quintessential leader, he would have done the following:

  • Listened without interrupting
  • Taken ownership of the problem and the solution
  • Followed up with me each step of the way in the process
  • Offered a good-will gesture, such as a store credit or a gift certificate, for all the things that went wrong to retain a customer

As quintessential leaders, we can never afford to have an experience like this one take place under our watches. Everything matters.