Trust: The Critical Ingredient to Ignite a Conscientious Workforce

At the end of the day, we know your people are your most valuable asset. Employees who feel challenged by their work, who are excited by their work, who know how their work contributes to the organization’s goals, who are passionate about what their organization stands for, and who feel motivated to innovate and improve, are your most valuable asset and will build a trusted brand from the inside out.

We understand that your people make up your organization’s competitive advantage.  Employees who feel rewarded for their work, who are treated with dignity and respect, and who feel confident about their ability to perform their job functions are the employees who will create, innovate, and evangelize.   These are the people who drive results and impact the bottom line.  We don’t underestimate the impact leadership has on creating a trusting culture, as leaders have the power to shape  culture, for good or bad..  A culture with a DNA of trust is a culture of passionate, productive people that will outperform your competitors.   

High trust organizations are also high performance organizations.  Employees who trust create enormous value; however, trust works on a continuum.  It can take years to build and can be broken in an instant. Our research has confirmed, like many others have discovered, that building trust in a workplace improves tangible business results including cost containment, revenue growth, and customer loyalty.  Our Trust and Capacity model™ provides a new framework for organizations to create a high performance organization that will endure continued rapid evolution of the workforce.  The Trust and Capacity model™ identifies  the attractors that compel people to want to work for an organization and what the organization must provide for employees to be most productive.

As our workforce has evolved from the industrial age to the information age over the last 50 years, the dynamics of what creates a high performing organization has also shifted.   Some people may remember organizations focusing primarily on being safe.  In the 1980’s the focus shifted to include elements of satisfaction.  Since the mid 1990’s the focus has been on getting employees more engaged.  As employees continue to become more conscientious the demands of an organization to provide a culture that employees feel connected to become even more critical to long-term success of a company.

When we analyzed the historical and current perspective of high-performing organizations, we found the concepts to be limiting.  We discovered that most organizations focus on what the employees are providing to the organization and are measured from a “me” or “self” centered approach.  Many organizations today focus on how to get the employees more engaged.  An organization may ask questions centered around themes such as:

  1. A positive attitude towards, and pride in, the organization
  2.  Belief in the organization’s products/services
  3. A perception that the organization enables the employee to perform well
  4.  A willingness to behave altruistically and be a good team player
  5. An understanding of the bigger picture and a willingness to go beyond the requirements of the job

In our research we sought to identify the DNA of engagement.  We found that most organizations don’t focus on the foundational elements that truly drive satisfaction and engagement.  This was our “Ah-Ha” moment and explained why so many organizations struggle with moving the needle on engagement scores.  If an organization only addresses symptoms and doesn’t address the root source it is nearly impossible to create a higher performing organization.  We found that TRUST is embedded in the core DNA of those organizations that are continuously high performing.

Trust is not a singular directional concept.  Trust is, by definition, reliant on relationships between people or groups.  Trust in and of itself is the foundation in which an organization must build their culture to meet the demands of an evolving conscientious workface.  While trust is the foundation, an organization must also have those other elements that create capacity.  Our Trust and Capacity model™ focuses on four key themes to identify which root DNA areas need to be addressed to manage and build a successful culture.  These include:

Organizational Trust – These are the attractors that energize the workforce to want to come to work and do great things.

  1. Consistency of direction among management and employees
  2. Environment of trust and honesty
  3. Leadership effectiveness and employee confidence
  4. Commitment to company vision

Individual Trust – These are the attributes that demonstrate the organization truly believes in its employees.

  1.  Consistency of words and actions
  2. Manager-Employee relations
  3. Ability to provide the right resources, tools, and technology
  4. Effectiveness of performance management

Individual Capacity – These are the characteristics that allow people to stretch their capabilities and produce outstanding individual results.

  1.  Degree of freedom, challenge, and desire to improve
  2. Level of day-to-day job satisfaction
  3.  Opportunities for growth
  4. Level of support for innovation and risk taking

Organizational Capacity – these are the qualities that illustrate the workforce is operating smoothly to produce real value to all stakeholders.

  1. Priority on serving the customer
  2. Brand reputation
  3.  Efficiency
  4. Emphasis on quality

When an organization can identify the DNA of a  trusting culture, they have the insights that enable them to build a trusted brand from the inside out.  An organization centered on trust will have people who are truly their most valuable asset and will create a competitive advantage that allows it to repeatedly produce value for all stakeholders.  Today’s workforce is evolving at the speed of light, and by focusing on those themes that build trusting relationships you too can have a culture of trust.

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Approaching the 4R Model of Transformational Leadership

Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. were great leaders because they transformed their worlds. They took initiative, inspired, and stimulated ideas within their culture. They moved beyond self-interests and promoted the well being of others. Lincoln and MLK were great leaders because they implemented virtuous ideas and became trusted leaders that influenced a troubled culture. The 4R Model of Transformational Leadership is a simple and eminent framework for integrating virtue into a global business and leadership perspective. The model works as a “conceptual home” for the critical variables in the transformational leadership process: Relationships, Roles, Responsibilities, and Results. With the help of the 4R model, leaders are able to become transformational leaders who are able to effectively motivate and inspire the organization.

The 4R model pictures the leader engaged in a network of collaborative relationships and places emphasis on a configuration of critical personal characteristics that are vital to developing these relationships. Within the relationship category, we understand that leadership is an essential relational and social endeavor—getting relationships right is a pre-requisite to everything else a leader does. The relationships component of the 4R Model addresses the question: “What characteristics must all organizational leaders possess in order to provide effective, transformational leadership over time in a variety of situations?”

The characteristics that are essential for becoming transformational leaders consist of five foundational BASIC virtues that should exist in the leaders of an organization that intends to increase trust:

Beneficial Partnerships define the leader's capacity to foster collaborative relationships. To collaborate is to "co-labor" and work in an interdependent fashion to achieve common ends.

Aligned Emotions establishes the leader's emotional maturity including knowing one's passions, wants and needs, and the emotional states of followers.

Sustained Determination means the leader has the inner strength to initiate action in the face of obstacles, not shrink in the face of resistance, and to sustain momentum in the face of adversity.

Intellectual Flexibility contains the capacity to see and to adapt to the world accurately with the help of others.

Character is one's moral integrity, which is the inner strength to live in accordance with high moral standards.

Applying these virtues into the daily routines of leaders will help them and their organizations to succeed by building trustworthy relationships. But the roles that these individual leaders play in the organization are equally important. These roles highlight the critical connection between the relational and moral agency of the leader as expressed in their partnerships, the leader’s focus, and the welfare and progress of the organization. Being a direction setter, spokesperson, coach, and change agent are four roles that have embedded in them a culture-shaping “script” that prompts and guides the leader’s investment of attention and energy.

The Direction Setter has the capacity to view into the future and set a course of direction for the organization. This role must be able to take the core values of the organization and infuse the organization with a compelling sense of “tomorrow.”

The Change Agent has the ability to know when, where, and how to change and be a role model for change. They prompt and support a continuous, collective focus on constructive change and promote the spirit of experimentation and prudent risk-taking with the ultimate goal of becoming more innovative.

The Coach has the desire and devotion to transfer knowledge and grow employees through feedback, support, and accountability. They must be able to foster a leadership-friendly culture that affords new leaders the opportunity to contribute to the mission of the organization.

The Spokesperson has the capability to build and sustain a customer-engaged and focused culture, deeply understanding the needs and trends of the market and customers, and effectively interacting with the world outside the organization.

As with any role, there are certain responsibilities that are essential to maintaining the right behavior. The responsibilities category pictures transformational leadership as a seamless process of leadership behaviors. Four leadership responsibilities vital to the transformational process are vision casting, strategy making, aligning, motivating, and analysis and judgment. These depict the essential activities every transformational leader must do to lead well over time.

Vision Casting is the leader's ability to visualize and communicate an engaging, emotional, and energized picture of the preferred future state.

Strategy Formation is the leader's skill to break down the vision and build a roadmap of actionable, realistic, measurable, and time-oriented steps to get to the future state.

Aligning requires the leader’s focus to execute the strategy by aligning the work, skill and resources of the organization.

Motivating is the leader’s consistent capacity to infuse hope, confidence, courage, and recognition to others for the work that has been and needs to be done.

Analysis and judgment manages resources and makes decisions with short- and long-term impacts in mind; has the courage to take risks and say “no” if necessary.

The results category is the outcome of the other three categories. The Results are the cumulative and collective outcomes of leaders’ relationships attending to each of the organizational roles and implementing each of the leadership responsibilities. The results will be contextually aligned to the vision, strategy, and values of the organization.

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Organizational Trust Starts with Trustworthy Leaders

What Others Are Saying About Trust

The world of work is changing.  What used to be clear lines of space and authority have blurred.  Suppliers, customers, and manufacturers no longer operate in silos; however, the way we do business has become almost entirely virtual.

The world of work is global; we’re now completely interdependent of each other. We’ve gone from a top-down, power-based leadership model to one that is flat or horizontal.  We’re becoming more autonomous, we exercise more control, and we enjoy boundaries that seem limitless.  In this horizontal, virtual business world, the “key success factor,” says Charles Green, contributor, Forbes magazine, “becomes the ability to persuade someone over whom you have no power to collaborate with you in pursuit of a common mission.” To do so requires a great amount of trust.  Which is why “leaders can no longer trust in power,” says Green, “instead, they rely on the power of trust.”

Leaders today must be both trusting and trustworthy; they must be excellent collaborators, and they must operate from a clear set of values and principles.  They must understand they are interdependent of others, not reliant on direct authority. They must be self-motivated and able to intrinsically motivate others.  

Our Approach

At Work Effects, our clients turn to us to help them form trusting organizations that are built upon integrity, engagement, purpose, and reliability.  Whether the interaction is at a personal, team, or organizational level, trust is the primary factor that fuels successful outcomes. 

Who drives trust in the workplace?  Our clients have discovered that leaders play a critical role in constructing and sustaining trust throughout their organizations.  If an organization wants to build trust, they must start with building leaders who are trustworthy and promote trust in others.

The problem is we don’t have enough confidence and trust in our leaders.  In fact, our trust in leaders is at an all-time low according to the 2010 Harvard Kennedy School for Leadership’s National Leader Index Report.  Nearly 70% of Americans indicated they either agree or strongly agree that we have a leadership crisis and lack confidence and trust in our leaders. 

What do leaders have to do to become more trustworthy and to promote trust within their organizations and teams?  Our research indicates there are five BASIC™ virtues of trusted leaders: Beneficial Partnerships, Aligned Emotions, Sustained Determination, Intellectual Flexibility, and Character.

Beneficial Partnerships a leader’s capacity to foster collaborative relationships

Expert Advice: Give public praise and support to others

When leaders share credit and publically support their teams when conflict arises, they gain trust and loyalty.  In return, their direct reports will go the extra mile to defend them when things get heated. 

Aligned Emotions – a leader’s emotional maturity including knowing one’s passions, wants and needs, and those of others

Expert Advice: Display emotional and behavioral stability

Nobody likes working for a “monkey” manager.   A “monkey” manager is one who swings in and out of moods and leadership styles.  One day they are micromanaging and the next day you don’t see or hear from them.  At times they are even-tempered and other times they easily lose their cool.  Employees often do their best to avoid monkey managers, which creates an unstable working environment.

Sustained Determination – a leader’s inner strength to initiate action

Expert Advice: Provide some room for innovation and give employees the opportunity to independently overcome obstacles and succeed

Leaders who give their employees a sense of autonomy, self-mastery, and the ability to experiment with new ideas build trust.

Intellectual Flexibility – a leader’s capacity to adapt

Expert Advice: Ask for help and be open to input from others

Let’s face it, many leaders got to where they are today because they are smart and hard-working.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  Leaders who can practice both fierce intellectual capabilities and genuine humility will create a loyal following.  It is essential to know the limitations of their expertise.  This enables leaders to ask for input from others and change course to find a better way.   When leaders are open to others’ input, they build trust and confidence.  “Leaders, who work most effectively, never say ‘I’ because they think ‘we’ and ‘team.’ They understand their job is to make the team function. They accept responsibility and do not sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done,” says Peter Drucker.

Character – a leader’s moral integrity

Expert Advice: Keep your promises

Nothing can replace character.  Character breeds reliability and reliability drives trust.  The more leaders follow through with customers and employees, the more trust is built.  Leaders who can be counted on will be trusted.  Conversely, leaders who demand reliability from others will drive trust within their team.

Why Should You Care?

High-trust organizations return 286% more value to shareholders than low-trust organizations according to a 2002 Watson Wyatt study.  One way to become a high-trust organization is to build leaders that exhibit trustworthy behaviors, foster trust among team members, and reinforce trustworthy behaviors throughout the organization and with customers.

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Work Effects Contributes HR Content to Canadian-based Troy Media

Since the beginning of March, 2011, Work Effects has been contributing articles on the topics of leadership development, trust, organizational development, and performance management to Canadian-based Troy Media, a leading content provider to hundreds of media outlets both in Canada and around the world.

Recent published articles have been on a variety of topics: "Why don't we trust our leaders?", "Creating habits, establishing accountability, building leaders," and "Creating a high performance coaching culture." These articles, along with others on similar topics, are helping to educate Troy Media readers on what it takes to develop trustworthy leaders and organizations. One objective is to begin to establish Work Effects as a reliable thought leader to the media around the globe.

"Troy Media is a fast-growing outlet for fresh content and we wanted to tap into their extensive reach and increasing visibility," said Michael Stewart, managing partner of Work Effects. "With such an large readership, we felt that they were an excellent way to communicate our unique approach to creating trusted leaders and organizations."

Work Effects will continue to provide articles to Troy Media on a monthly basis with a rotating schedule of human resources related content.

About Work Effects
Work Effects, located in downtown Minneapolis, is a consulting firm with over twenty years of experience.  It helps clients deliver strategic results by developing more trusted leaders and organizations through training, coaching, and assessment programs.  With innovative solutions in the areas of leadership development, culture management, and performance management, Work Effects has become an industry leader in building trust from the inside out.  The company consults with clients using its modular solutions such as Revolution 360TM which assesses a leader's transformational capabilities, the Trust & CapacityTM survey which identifies the root culture drivers of an organization,  Performance Sum TM which measures and tracks individual and organizational performance, and Conflict Lens TM which identifies constructive outcomes to conflict in the work-place.  Work Effects works with clients ranging from mid-cap to Fortune 100 companies.

Troy Media
In 2010, total circulation/readership of Troy Media content was more than 530 million. To the end of August 2011, its circulation/readership was over 650 million, of which over 290 million was in print. Troy Media content is picked up extensively by web sites around the world and is read by more than 4.8 million readers weekly.

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Work Effects Participates in Chief Learning Officer Article on Leadership

Work Effects participated in a recent article written by Ladan Nikravan, associate editor at Chief Learning Officer.  The article "Focusing on Individual Leadership Development for Organizational Growth", addressed an important area, that of individual development in the context of the organization.

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Work Effects Case Study Highlighted in T+D Magazine

The American Society for Training & Development association's publication T+D Magazine profiled one of Work Effects' clients in the magazine's WorkplaceRX column.  Entitled "Growing Pains", Michael Stewart, Work Effects' Managing Director outlined how his company helped a 10,000-employee hospital system address organizational conflict issues that they were facing.

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Defining Trusted Leaders Does Not Have to be a Tight Rope Act

In our last newsletter, I wrote about the difference between brand and reputation and the importance of building fundamental trust within an organization for its leaders, its employees, its products and services, and its customers in order to be a successful organization. When determining the difference between brand and reputation, we discovered that brand is what you say your organization is, and reputation is what others say and how they respond to your organization. Our research has shown that if an organization wants to build trust, the very first place to start is with building trusted leaders.

In this issue of our newsletter, I would like to explore the concept of trusted leaders and answer the question:  “How do we define trust and what defines a trusted leader?”

“How do we define trust?”

My wife and I recently watched Nik Wallenda, a professional high-wire artist who makes a living performing stunts all over the globe, walk across Niagara Falls in a live televised event. It was interesting to see that ABC required Nik to wear a safety harness, despite his arguments against it.  This led me to wonder whether or not ABC completely trusted Nik—whose father and grandfather performed similar stunts and has worked with Nik all of his life—to complete the walk without falling to his death? Based off of Nik’s arguments, he obviously trusted himself to perform the stunt without any mishaps. And for ABC, there must have been some level of trust since it was aired on live TV, but on another level there were obviously reservations too.

In a 2011 article in the Journal of Trust Research, “Measuring Trust in Organizational Research: Review and Recommendations,” Bill McEvily and Marco Tortoriello conducted a comprehensive review of trust research and literature created over the last 50 years.  McEvily and Tortoriello concluded in their article that the academic research they drew on was “rudimentary and highly fragmented,” discovering 129 different measures and definitions of trust. Within the variety of definitions exposed, McEvily and Tortoriello found three similar components that make up the definition of trust: Trustworthiness beliefs, Trusting intentions, and Trusting behaviors.

  1. 1. Trustworthiness beliefs — this is the expectation that the other party has our best interest in mind and positive results will be the outcome of the interaction
  1. 2. Trusting intentions — this is the internal willingness or decision to make yourself vulnerable to another party
  1. 3. Trusting behaviors — this is the behavioral response to take risks and work together with another party

We find these definitions useful.  Through our own review of the literature and research, we leveraged a validated definition and developed a 4R Model for Transformational Leadership ™ for measuring and building trust in leaders and organizations. The 4R Leadership Model puts trusted leadership in the context of a business organization by defining what are the Relationships, Roles, Responsibilities and Results expected of a leader in an organization.

What is a trusted leader?

Like the definition of trust, there are many definitions of what signifies a trusted leader.  Some of these definitions include leaders who motivate, inspire, and communicate well with their employees. In our own research of analyzing leaders and organizational survey results over the last 15 years, combined and reviewing over 400 leadership models, we developed a conceptual model of leadership called the 4R Leadership model™.   This 4R model™ is an integrative paradigm that identifies both the macro and micro foundations of leadership.  Specifically, the 4R Model pictures the critical linkage between the collaborative nature of partnerships the leader practices (Relationships), the culture-shaping work of the leader (Roles), and the effective practice of leadership (Responsibilities). Together, these concepts align the vision, strategy, objectives, and values of the organization.

In an article published in the International Journal of Leadership Studies (2006), Bruce E. Winston and Kathleen Patterson of Regent University discovered there were over 26,000 published articles on the definition of leadership.  Of those definitions, Winston and Patterson uncovered 90 common variables that comprise leadership’s definition. One of the most frequently occurring dimensions in all these definitions was trust.

Winston and Patterson write:

“The leader, in this process of leading, enables the follower(s) to be innovative as well as self-directed within the scope of individual-follower assignments and allows the follower(s) to learn about their own, as well as others’, successes, mistakes, and failures along the process of completing the organization’s objectives.

The leader accomplishes this by building credibility and trust with the followers through interaction and feedback to and with the followers that shapes the followers’ values, attitudes, and behaviors towards risk, failure, and success.”

These transformational leaders serve as catalysts that prompt and create the movement within the organization through charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. These skills that transformational leaders encompass have been linked to numerous positive outcomes, including increased employee satisfaction, more employee effort, and satisfaction with the leader. With the help of the 4R model, leaders are able to become leaders who are able to effectively motivate and inspire the organization.

Nik Wallenda’s trust in his training and in his talent gave him the ability to successfully complete that historic walk over Niagara Falls. While there may have been some reservations as to whether or not Nik would be able to successfully complete the walk over Niagara Falls, it was the safety harness that allowed ABC and Nik to be cooperatively successful.  ABC believed that Nik could perform the stunt; this is why they agreed to air it on live television. But because they had his best interest in mind, they asked him to wear a safety harness. Nik agreed to this and made himself open to the will of ABC. Together, ABC and Nik Wallenda worked together, took a risk, and successfully led one of the most magnificent and inspiring events I have seen in a long time.

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Q&A with CEO & President, Michael Stewart, and COO, Gary Johnsen

Q: Recent articles suggest we’ve lost trust and confidence in our leaders. What is the significance of this for organizations and their employees?

Gary: When we read in the headlines every other day that leaders are lying to us, saying one thing and doing another and leading lives that we can’t rely on, you begin to believe that if they’re going to lie to the public, then they’re going to potentially lie to you. If they’re going to lie to you, then they don’t have your best interest in mind. If employees feel like their employer doesn’t have their best interest in mind, they’re not willing to go the extra mile, and in fact, they probably have one foot out the door already. 

Michael: Often leaders don’t understand the level at which they have to act consistently to create trust. They believe that as long as they get the big things right everything will be good, but that’s not true. Trust is about the nuances; it’s about consistent actions. Trust works on a continuum, and you have to ask yourself whether you’re gaining points or losing them. If you aren’t conscious of the way you’re acting, people will think things are happening behind closed doors—that you aren’t being transparent, or worse, you don’t have their best interests at heart. Causing question opens up this chasm of disbelief.


Gary: Our research shows that what separates effective from ineffective leaders is attributed to what we call beneficial relationships, or the ability to get relationships right. The nuances that Michael was just talking about—if you don’t get those nuances right, it doesn’t matter how aligned people are or how smart they are. Relationships are the key to creating the right culture and building trust.

Michael: You can have the best and the brightest people, great products, the best market, the best strategic plan, and great opportunities in the market, but if you don’t get trust right, you can’t execute that; you can’t reap the full rewards. You might be able to see short term results, but if you don’t have that trust, you’re not going to reach your full potential; you might not even reach half of that potential.


Q: What does trust do for a team and its organization? 

Gary:  When people trust, they’re able to be themselves. They’re able to become more creative; they’re able to think; they’re able to problem solve. If you’re worried about whether or not you’ll have a job tomorrow or whether you’re leader is going to cross some type of a boundary or lie to you—those are the distractions that keep you from being creative and innovative and from getting your job done to your fullest capability.

Michael: Trust is so important now because we’ve moved away from an industrial economy. People don’t just show up for the job and do it the same old way. Now the importance of knowledge workers—of bringing your thoughts and ideas and knowledge to bear—is critically important. You’re not counting on tactile skills; you’re counting on people bringing their brains, and to do that, you have to have that brain fully engaged. The knowledge of mankind is doubling every six years. Because of that, you have to count on people to think clearly, to act upon their ideas and to feel the freedom from retribution for acting on those ideas at the speed of light.  Trust opens up the brain to perform. It doesn’t get cluttered with distractions, with other noise. It doesn’t put up filters that create distrust.


Q: How is trust reciprocal? What if I feel like my boss doesn’t trust me?

 Michael: If you feel like your boss doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to put in the effort. You’re going to do just good enough to not get fired; you’re going to paint within the lines and do exactly as the boss tells you to do. You’ll be a yes-man. There will be no creative thinking, and there will be no other points of view. You will turn your brain off when you leave the workplace. You’ll want to absolutely avoid anything to do with work because it is seen as a painful place. Most people will detract from something painful.

Gary: If you don’t feel trusted by your leaders and your boss, you’re going to make the culture toxic by complaining and gossiping and taking the focus off of your work. You may even have a foot out the door looking for another job. One thing we know about productive employees is that they feel challenged. Employees who feel challenged—who are assigned challenging projects and who have the opportunity to grow their skills—are going to be the most productive. If you have a boss that doesn’t trust you, there’s a very high chance that you’re not going to get challenging projects—you’re going to get the bottom of the barrel and become dissatisfied.


Q: Describe the basic virtues of an effective, trustworthy leader. 

Gary: First, a trustworthy leader is someone who knows what they know. They are a subject matter expert in what they know. Conversely, they also know what they don’t know. They’re able to ask for help; they’re able to say this is what I’m smart in and what I’m not so smart in. When leaders can admit their shortcomings and limitations, they build trust. It’s humbling. It’s all about knowing what you know and knowing what you don’t know and being okay with that. Second is reliability. An effective leader keeps promises. What you say is what you do, and what you do is what you say—you follow through. Third, a trustworthy leader maintains a sense of empathy—of really understanding his or her employees and customers, and deeply understanding the market. Fourth, an effective leader has a reduced sense of self-orientation. It doesn’t always have to be about “me,” but rather, a leader listens to you.  It’s about listening, being genuinely concerned, and asking the right questions. That level of concern creates trust.

 Michael: What does a leader do at the core? Sure, it’s about being honest, but it’s a lot more than that—it’s about being transparent about that honesty. A lot of people may feel like they’re direct, and they may feel like they’re honest, but they’re holding things back.  They may not be telling the full story or coming clean as far as context and perspectives. People sense that. Trustworthy leaders believe in the goodness of others. They believe people truly have positive intent.

The other piece involves emotional intelligence and self-awareness. It’s recognizing that your reactions actually do have impact and understanding what that impact is and owning that.  Effective leaders feel an innate sense of responsibility in their role as a leader.  They believe that what they do actually matters, and that people actually pay attention to what they say, and more importantly what they do. It’s about feeling the importance of their role and what it really means for others.

Leaders absolutely need to be goal-oriented and driven. They need to hold people accountable to high standards; but it’s not just what leaders encourage, it’s what they tolerate. It’s about setting goals and achieving the goals themselves, it’s not just about delegating to other people, it’s about jumping in when people need help. It’s about adjusting what their goals are and monitoring them on a consistent basis. It’s not about being the smartest person in the room; it’s about demonstrating a passion for learning new things. I think really good leaders are constantly looking for new information, new ideas, new things, and or people that can add to their perspective. It’s because they are humble about what they know and don’t know. They’re constantly seeking new knowledge. It’s out of a sense of responsibility to know—to drive the ship.


Trusted leaders demonstrate long-term consistency. Character is built over a very long period of time. You can’t change your mind every six months; you can’t have a whiplash effect. You have to be genuinely consistent, repeatable, and sustain your words and actions, and not just over a year, but over several years.  If you’re constantly moving back and forth and not being conscious of the change you’re creating or espousing or doing with your team or organization, you’re not going to build the core foundation of character.




Q: I’m interested in building a more trusted work culture. What can Work Effects give me?

Gary: Work Effects has the diagnostic tools that can help you figure out from a leadership perspective, from a cultural organization perspective, and from a performance perspective, what you’re doing well and what you should leverage more. We have the diagnostic tools that can quantify and qualify your strengths and gaps. We not only have ways in which to easily display the data, but we’ll help you understand what the data really means—drawing out the key insights. Lastly, and most importantly, we’ll help you really move the needle. It’s one thing to know your car is low on oil, but what do you do about it? We stick with you, and we believe very passionately that our action planning, support, and accountability will deliver results. We do a follow-up diagnostic in 6 months to a year, and we can demonstrate where there has been positive movement.

Michael: Our metrics don’t create the change, but they help us pinpoint the one, two, or three areas that are most critical—that need to either be leveraged or addressed. That gives us the ability to start looking deeper into your organization, into each of the departments or individuals.  We’ll get you emotionally onboard for wanting to change. As soon as you get that emotional component—that pull of the heart if you will—of the individual, the team, or the organization, now you have some gas in the tank; now you have something to work with. We pinpoint the root cause; we get you energized about wanting to change. Then, it’s about having the right resources and the follow through.  We stick to you. We don’t let you off the hook. That’s the hard part. We absolutely have to build trust with our clients otherwise they’re not going to be able to build trust from the inside out.



Q: What is Work Effects commitment to me in a business partnership?


Michael: We’re flexible and adaptable to different organizations and what they have. We have speed to market. Everyone talks about service; we deliver service. We anticipate customer issues long before they recognize they even have them. We can put those decisions before them and help them make those decisions ahead of a crisis. 

Gary: We understand global organizations companies and have built diagnostics around global companies. We have cultural competence, and we know how to work with different cultures around the world. We can translate our work, our solutions, and our diagnostics into multiple languages. We’ve done it and proved we can do it. With a global economy it’s important that we can reach beyond the boundaries of the United States. We’ve shown we can do that and do it very well.

Michael: We’ve been doing this for decades. We know where organizations get the most value. Rather than spending a lot of time, energy, and money customizing everything under the sun, we really figure out what is most critical for customizing and making it contextually relevant for an organization. Then they are able to divert some of the resources that could be spent on customizing and actually spend them on following through to create real change. We’re not about producing activity; we’re about producing results.


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Work Effects to Present at 2011 Minnesota SHRM State Conference Event

Work Effects will be participating in the upcoming SHRM State Conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota, October 2-4, 2011. This annual event expects over 650 human resource professionals to be in attendance to hear more than three dozen speakers and presenters on topics ranging from strategic human resources, recruitment and leadership to wellness, work-life balance and the future of human resources.

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Work Effects Launches New Corporate Website

To better educate clients and prospects on the unique expertise it provides, Work Effects, a trust-based leadership development and performance management company located in Minneapolis, has launched a completely updated corporate website.

“We approach leadership development and performance management much differently than our competitors. Although surveys and assessments are necessary to gather actionable data, we function much like a management consulting firm would, working alongside senior management as they implement their strategic objectives,” said managing partner Michael Stewart.

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Revolution 360

Transformational leaders come in many forms and they may not be whom you expect them to be. Uncovering who they are, what are their strengths and how you can help them improve, is an important process that substantially contributes to an organization’s bottom line success. Utilizing the Work Effects Revolution 360TM survey assessment, clients have a proven tool to get the most out of their current and future leaders.

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