Build Trust First, Then Lead

Is it really better to be feared than to be loved? Well, not necessarily. Although fear has long been used as a form of motivation, leaders who elicit fear are at risk of undermining creativity and problem solving while stifling a culture of “speak-up.” According to research documented by the Harvard Business Review, trust in leadership has greater long term benefits as employees are much more likely to embrace a firm’s values, culture and the company’s mission.

People respond more positively to leaders who are likable and lead with warmth than those who are viewed as competent which is often associated with fear. People respond to warmth much faster than competence and warmth is considered to be a conduit of influence. Warmth facilitates trust and communications and increases information sharing, openness and cooperation - all of which are attributes of a healthy culture.

As a leader you should note that before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what they think of you. If they don’t trust you as a leader, they will not follow you with any real authenticity – meaning you will fail to capture the hearts of your employees. Your ability to influence as a leader and get people to fully embrace your vision and your message will depend upon your ability to establish trust within the organization.

So why are leaders more concerned with competence rather than connecting with their employees?

Well let’s examine this for a moment. With the pressures that exist in today’s organizations, leaders are given a short time horizons to prove their value. We associate leadership with strength and then set an expectation that encourages the optics. Leading with warmth however, is about vulnerability. How confident and self-assured a leader is will determine their threshold for vulnerability. Additionally, in order to connect with people, you must also be connected with yourself. Leaders who lack self-awareness will be hard pressed to connect with those whom they lead.

It is more difficult to hate people up close, so lean in.

So often, leaders forget basic tenets of building relationships because they don’t think of the people who they lead, as individuals. But organizations are made up of people and everyone has basic human wants and needs. Everyone wants respect and a sense of belonging. They also want recognition; not only for the work they are doing, but to be recognized as a person. Reaching out to individuals and getting to know people by name goes along way at building loyalty and trust. Connect first, then when you lead, people will follow.

How to lead with warmth

It isn’t easy to lead with warmth particularly in a cutthroat environment. But non-verbal cues and body language speak volumes about what kind of leader you are. Tone and pitch of voice gives way to your enthusiasm and your receptivity to ideas. Your physical posture in front of others also tells a story: head down, arms crossed and the pivot of your body away from those you are speaking to are all signs of someone who is closed off.

Your words matter. Telling stories is a great way to connect but telling a story that ends with how great you are probably won’t connect you to your audience. Humility tends to be more effective while compassion and empathy go a long way, especially when boosting morale under grueling conditions.

Leading with warmth is more challenging for some than for others. If you are a leader struggling to lead with warmth make a human connection than I can offer you one simple tip - SMILE.

Failure is a Myth

As we strive for success and look for that silver bullet that will catapult us to career advancement we also look for one to inoculate us against failure. Most of us are terrified of failing but any truly successful person will tell you that failure is a necessary part of the success equation. I would even add that if you aren’t failing then you probably aren’t taking enough risk. This concept has been rather eye opening for me. When I first heard it, I recognized my own risk aversion and saw that I only really take chances after I’ve carefully calculated my odds of succeeding and then I only act when those odds are favorable or comfortable to me. As such I probably haven’t reached the full potential of my capabilities. Have you? 

How many of you are so afraid of failing that you don’t take chances?

Upon further study of failure as a critical ingredient to success, I have learned that failures bring forth new beginnings and failure acts as a catalyst for change. But human beings are creatures of habit and most of us don’t like change so there is little appeal to the concept of a new beginning. Instead we do the exact same thing that we do every day and often hope that it will yield a different result; which is also the definition of insanity.

I have learned that enormously successful people have failed many times before hitting it big. Failure is also an important part of their learning process. In order to grow we need to continue to learn and failure brings with it valuable teachable moments. The value of failure only exists if we allow ourselves to learn from the experience. If we let our failures hold us back by impacting our confidence, and becoming the mental barriers that prevent us from trying again, then their value is somewhat wasted. Learn to use the lessons to make you smarter and wiser. Don’t allow your failures to dictate your narrative. If it doesn’t serve you in a way that is beneficial then let it go!

Cool Things

As you may have noticed, I've been radio silent for the last several weeks as I tried to balance some much needed R&R with a boat-ton of work that I had to do for my passion project. All of this and all of you are my passion project, in case you were wondering - and it’s what keeps me inspired and motivated. But now that summer is over, it is time to get back into the rhythm. So here’s what I got going on….

  • Labor Day has come to pass and with it marks the anniversary of my mother’s death. This is of course a somber time for me, but I also treasure it and hold it dear, in her honor. The reason I mention this, in what is essentially a career blog, is because I always attribute her death as a driving force behind my success.

    I admit that the years following her passing were an extremely brutal way to start my adult life, but hovering at rock bottom really only provided me with one direction in which to proceed – UP! Somewhere in the depths of despair, I found strength and resolve and a will to strive. I always say that I am who I am today because of my mom's death, as it was the one single event that changed every aspect of my life. This one is mine, but I leave this with you as food for thought as you reflect on your own life.

    Back to business and making money:

  • Tonight I am attending an options trading class to brush up on some hedging strategies for my personal trading account. As you know the market has seen a straight shot up since the election, which is great but it also leaves us exposed, should it all fall to pieces. Putting on some hedges in order to protect against downside risk seems like a good idea to me, but I am no expert and want to learn more. As I prepare for this class, I have been looking at my own portfolio and am pondering the following:  buy NKE on the dip?

  • Interesting reading: For those of you who worked at Merrill, you may remember Harley Bassman aka the Convexity Maven. Harley is a brilliant guy and my former partner in Meet the Markets initiative. I recently caught up with Harley, who has spent the last decade working at PIMCO’s crappy office location in Newport Beach, CA. Attached is Harley’s latest publication – a must read if you follow the debt markets:  http://convexitymaven.com/images/Convexity_Maven_-_Not_the_Sharpest_Knife_.pdf

Cool Things

1.  Cool things continue as I have been asked to speak on a panel at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women this October. This conference is one of the premier women’s conferences and is attended by 10,000 participants. This year’s key note speaker is Amal Clooney, an accomplished Human Rights Lawyer who found stardom through her marriage to Actor George Clooney - Go figure, America. Conference Link

2.  I am working on a second edition of my book “Lose the Gum” which will include a few more chapters including one on the topic of harassment in the workplace. The book will be released in September.

3.  And the coolest, most dearest thing that happened to me this week was when I received an email from Saint Basil’s Academy inviting me to be a guest speaker at a new program they are developing on Women’s Leadership and Business. Saint Basil’s is a tiny, private, all girl’s highschool outside of Philadelphia. The reason that this is so special to me, is that my mother, who died when I was just eighteen years old, went to this highschool. The school randomly came across my book, found my website and reached out to me. This all just happened today and means more to me than all else combined. 

The Art of Networking

The Art of Networking

Networking is both a necessary tool and useful skill that everyone utilizes at some point in their careers. For many people however, networking can be a dreadful process of meaningless small talk which one hopes to exchange for some type of career chit which is why it can feel forced and contrived. And if that is how you feel about networking, then I can assure you that you probably aren’t going about it in the right way. I would even venture to say that your style of networking is probably ineffectual and I doubt that it is bearing any meaningful fruit.

Cool Things

Cool Things

I am on vacation this week at my friend’s Lake House in the Adirondacks which is a Cool Thing in itself. Thanks Damian for being such a generous friend and graciously lending me your lake house for the week! This is the place that I came to work on my book two years ago. It is truly a writer’s paradise.

Managing your Manager

Managing your Manager

Equally as important as the role you have, is the manager to whom you report. Your manager can make or break your career; a good manager can give you the support and exposure you need to attain the recognition you deserve while a bad manager could set you so far back that it could take years to recover. Not only does your manager determine your fate within the company, but they are responsible for setting the tone of the working environment which impacts the culture of the department.

Cool Things

Cool Things

Life is moving at a fast and furious pace and if we don't stop for a moment in order to acknowledge the cool things that we experience then they vanish from our minds. In an effort to give these moments a longer life span, I thought that I would jot them down and share them with you. So here is a short list of what I’ve seen, heard, read or did this week that may either interesting, useful or just plain fun.

Be Bold!

Be Bold!

During the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, my mom got me a job at her insurance company in Livingston, NJ. It was the subrogation unit, independently run by a man whom we called Mr. Famular. The subro business was booming and Mr. Famular needed additional help, so I recommended my best friend who was home from college for the summer. We were trained by one of the other summer students who had worked there several summers before and had more knowledge and greater tenure. Mr. Famular gave us a fair amount of autonomy and so we were mostly left to our own devices. As such, the lack of an influential force allowed our personal personalities to shape our professional demeanors.

Success Begins in the Mind

Success Begins in the Mind

Since I wrote about impostor syndrome, I have received a number of emails with people sharing their own personal stories; it even became a topic of conversation at a party that went to last weekend. I therefore thought it might be worthwhile to unpack this further because impostor syndrome is only one of the many symptoms that result from a lack of self-confidence.

Rules vs. Culture

Rules vs. Culture

Throughout the years, financial institutions have had their share of issues regarding fraud. As such, fines have been imposed and sweeping regulations have been implemented. After the financial crisis, banks focused on developing tougher rules through enhanced policies and procedures. Tighter controls have also been put into place to mitigate risk against nefarious behaviors. But despite all of these efforts, misconduct continues to plague our industry.

The Intern

The Intern

Last week rising seniors came to Wall Street to begin their summer internships. The goal is, of course, to try to obtain an offer by the end of the summer in order secure a full-time gig post graduation. The field for front office jobs is highly competitive as the industry remains cautious and somewhat apprehensive about hiring. You want to rise above and stand out amongst your peers. Always try and be memorable for the right reasons.

Who Do You Think You Are? | Combatting Impostor Syndrome

Who Do You Think You Are?  | Combatting Impostor Syndrome

Some of the smartest and most successful people I’ve known have confided to me, that their greatest fear is, the world will discover they are a fraud. Initially, I was taken aback by this because these individuals were quite accomplished. But while writing my book, I researched issues of confidence and found this was a real psychological condition known as Impostor Syndrome.

Negotiation Critical: Why Negotiating is More Important than Ever in Closing the Gender Pay Gap

Negotiation Critical:  Why Negotiating is More Important than Ever in Closing the Gender Pay Gap

In October of last year, New York City joined a number of US jurisdictions (full list below) in passing a law that bans hiring employers from asking candidates for their salary history. Since most hiring companies determined a candidates salary base some percentage increase over their last salary, the pay gap would follow women throughout their careers.

Website Launch

Website Launch

Welcome to my new career website! I am absolutely thrilled that you are here. This site is meant to be interactive and dynamic with YOU as the driver of its content.
Ask me a career question or explain your career challenge through the form, which I’ve provided in the Contact Tab of my website. I will then address the topic of your issue, in confidence, through blog posts.

Balboa Press - It's a Hobby not a Job

Balboa Press.png

I truly believe this is the mindset that one needs to implore when turning a project into a business.  It is the difference between amateur and professional. I took this approach when I wrote "Lose the Gum" and it became the differentiating factor between what is now a published book and a bunch of unfinished pages. How many of us, while riffling through our stuff, find pages of a half written book or an idea that we never fully pursued?  We've all been there as a feeling of lament washes over.  But you will be amazed at what you can be accomplished when you shift your mentality and adopt the practice of "Turning Pro."

Read full article here.