They Don’t Trust You

Trust is earned, the price is paid daily.

Trusted leaders earn radically better performance, engagement, and employee vulnerability. Sadly, doing the work to become and stay trusted is not happening in our workplaces. How do I know – talk with anyone at work about how vulnerable they are willing to be with their boss.

Is building trust a challenge? – absolutely. Does it require new skills? – of course. Is the ROI worth it? – only if you want to crush goals.

How does this work.

  1. Acknowledg the situation. Individual contributors have heard all the horror stories of disrespectful leaders, punitive bosses, and incompetent supervisors. We may not like these stories but they do frame the understanding of our team members. This is the reality of life, just like gravity.
  2. Have patience. Your team will not trust you because of a 5 minute conversation or worse – an email broadcast. Instead you have to expect to invest daily in building trust with each person on your team. This is a long game, building trust takes months.
  3. Be curious. Get to know the individuals on your team. What drives them, what excites them, and how do they want their career to advance. Where do they run into friction? You want to amass a dossier of understanding each person. This will take time (remember #2).
  4. Make their lives better. Yes, this is your responsibility. As a leader/supervisor/manager, your job is to help everyone on your team operate better. This means finding and removing frictions, coaching them to improve skills, and giving them a path for career advancement.
  5. Improve your own skill stack. Some of the “better” that your team needs will be new for you – yes, it’s an opportunity for your own growth. To coach your team, you will need to improve your communication, research, and presentation skills. It’s not their job to read your mind – it is your job to educate and catalyze behavior changes in your team.
    • Learn to handle emotional discomfort. Recognizing our own ignorance and incompetence at skills can be emotionally challenging – and it’s a necessity. Learn how to self regulate your brain chemistry and emotions. This is a critical element in learning new skills and being vulnerable yourself with your team, peers, and leadership.
  6. Repeat

I’ve used this process for 15+ years of team leadership. It has always been a part of the 40PB system that gave double digit improvements in productivity and cut churn.

Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace: Feeling Fake Despite Success

Ever nailed a presentation, crushed a project, then immediately convinced yourself it was all a fluke? You’re not alone.  Welcome to the world of imposter syndrome, a sneaky phenomenon that plagues high-achievers across all industries.

Imposter syndrome, also known as imposter phenomenon or the impostor experience, is a psychological pattern where individuals doubt their accomplishments and competence. In the workplace, this can manifest in high-achieving employees feeling like frauds, fearing they’ll be exposed as incompetent.

Here’s a breakdown of imposter syndrome and its impact:


Individuals experiencing imposter syndrome attribute their success to luck, external factors, or simply “faking it.” They downplay their skills and knowledge, often comparing themselves unfavorably to colleagues they perceive as more talented. This internal self-doubt fuels anxiety and can lead to a reluctance to take on new challenges or share their ideas.

Examples in the Workplace:

  • A salesperson consistently exceeds quotas but worries they’ll be exposed as simply “lucky.”
  • A manager downplays their leadership skills and hesitates to delegate tasks, fearing they won’t be able to provide adequate guidance.
  • A talented engineer constantly revises their work and avoids public speaking due to a fear of being seen as unknowledgeable.
Origin Story

The exact science behind imposter syndrome is still evolving, but researchers have identified some potential contributing factors:

Cognitive Biases:

  • Self-serving bias: We tend to attribute our successes to internal factors (skill, hard work) but blame failures on external factors (bad luck, difficult circumstances). This can make it hard to internalize accomplishments and fuel feelings of inadequacy.
  • Confirmation bias: We pay more attention to information that confirms our existing beliefs. Someone with imposter syndrome might focus on minor mistakes as evidence of their incompetence, while overlooking their successes.
  • Downward social comparison: We often compare ourselves to those we perceive as more successful. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, especially for high achievers who constantly set the bar higher.

Attributional Style:

  • People with a mastery-oriented attributional style believe their success comes from effort and skill, while those with a helplessness-oriented style attribute success to luck or external factors. Imposter syndrome is more common in people with a helplessness-oriented style.

Personality Traits:

  • Perfectionism: The relentless pursuit of flawlessness can lead to self-criticism and a fear of falling short.
  • Neuroticism: Individuals high in neuroticism are more prone to anxiety and negative self-talk, which can contribute to imposter syndrome.


  • Early Experiences: A lack of praise or encouragement during childhood, or critical parenting styles, can contribute to feelings of inadequacy that carry over into adulthood.
  • Cultural Factors: Cultures with a strong emphasis on achievement and competition might make individuals more susceptible to imposter syndrome.
The Imposter Cycle

Imposter syndrome often follows a predictable cycle:

Success Triggers Doubt: You experience some form of success, whether it’s completing a project, receiving positive feedback, or landing a promotion. Instead of feeling proud or accomplished, the imposter cycle kicks in. You might downplay your achievement, attributing it to luck, external factors, or simply “faking it.”

Internal Comparisons: You compare yourself to others, highlighting their perceived brilliance and downplaying your own skills. This fuels self-doubt and negative self-talk. You might think things like, “They’re going to find out I don’t really know what I’m doing,” or “I just got lucky this time.”

Increased Anxiety: Self-doubt fuels anxiety, making you overly critical of your work and hesitant to take on new challenges.

  • This fear can manifest in different ways, such as:
    • Overwork and perfectionism: You try to overcompensate by working excessively and striving for flawless results, which can lead to burnout.
    • Procrastination: You might delay tasks or projects due to fear of failure.
    • Reduced Risk-Taking: You become hesitant to take on new challenges or share your ideas for fear of being judged.
Breaking the Cycle

Cognitive Reframing:

  • Self-Compassion vs. Self-Criticism: A 2017 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found self-compassion, treating yourself with kindness understanding during setbacks, to be more effective than self-criticism in reducing imposter syndrome and promoting motivation.
  • Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset: Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s work highlights the power of a growth mindset. Believing your abilities can develop through effort (growth mindset) versus being fixed and unchangeable (fixed mindset) can buffer against imposter syndrome according to a 2013 study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. View self-doubt as a signal to grow, not a confirmation of inadequacy. Use it to identify areas for improvement. Recognize the cognitive biases fueling your self-doubt and challenge those thought patterns with evidence of your skills and accomplishments.

Challenge Negative Attributions:

  • Internal vs. External Attributions: Imposter syndrome often involves attributing successes to external factors (luck, help from others) and failures to internal factors (lack of ability). A 2018 study in the Journal of Educational Psychology suggests that challenging these attributions and focusing on your internal skills and effort for successes can combat imposter syndrome.

Focus on Evidence, Not Emotion:

  • Fact-Checking Negative Thoughts: A 2017 study in Behavior Research and Therapy recommends keeping a “success journal” where you document your accomplishments, positive feedback, and evidence of your skills. Refer to this journal when self-doubt arises to counter negative thoughts with concrete facts.
  • Focus on Facts, Not Feelings: Separate your self-worth from your accomplishments. Acknowledge your achievements, even if they feel like flukes.

Celebrate Wins (Big and Small): Take time to acknowledge your successes, no matter how small. This reinforces your capabilities and builds confidence. Save those emails from your boss that expressed praise. Hang on to those positive performance reviews. These will be helpful pieces of hard evidence when we’re diving headfirst into a pool of self-doubt.

Focus on Learning: View challenges and setbacks as opportunities to learn and improve. All mistakes are simply data. They inform where are strengths lie and our growth edges exist. Also consider challenging yourself with new projects or responsibilities. Stepping outside your comfort zone can build confidence and demonstrate your capabilities.

Find Your Support System: Vulnerability breeds connection. And connection can be such a powerful antidote when we’re otherwise feeling alone with imposter thoughts and self-doubt in the workplace. Chances are, many of your colleagues might share a similar experience to you.

Beyond Passion: Why Purpose is the Secret Weapon Against Procrastination

We’ve all been there: the looming deadline, the unfinished project, the ever-present urge to scroll through social media instead of tackling the task at hand. Procrastination, the thief of time and productivity, can be a persistent foe. But what if the key to defeating it wasn’t about sheer willpower or the latest productivity hack? What if the answer lies deeper, in the wellspring of purpose and intrinsic motivation?

The Myth of the Passion Project:

Conventional wisdom often tells us to chase our passions, to find that one magical project that ignites our enthusiasm and eliminates procrastination. While passion can certainly fuel our drive, it’s not always a reliable solution. A sole focus on passion can make the journey the only reward. This can lead to procrastination as you wait for the “feeling” of passion to strike before starting, neglecting the importance of steady progress and achieving the final goal.

Passions can also fluctuate a project that initially excites you might lose its luster over time, especially if it involves tedious or challenging aspects. This can lead to procrastination as the initial enthusiasm fades. Let’s be honest, sometimes the most important tasks simply aren’t inherently exciting. From administrative duties to data entry, many essential jobs involve activities that won’t ignite a fiery passion within us. Relying solely on passion can leave these important tasks consistently pushed aside.

The Power of Purpose:

Here’s where purpose steps in. Purpose goes beyond mere enjoyment; it’s about connecting your tasks to a larger goal, a reason that resonates with your values and aspirations. Maybe that report you’re dreading helps secure funding for a cause you care about, or perhaps that tedious presentation contributes to a project that will ultimately make a difference in your community.

Finding Your Why:

So, how do you unearth your purpose? Here are some tips:

  • Core Values: Reflect on your core values – what truly matters to you? Align your tasks with those values to create a sense of purpose.  
  • Impact: Consider the impact of your work. How does it contribute to a larger goal, either personally or professionally? Purpose shifts the focus from “how do I feel about this task?” to “how does this contribute to something bigger?” This broader perspective can be more motivating, especially when the task itself isn’t inherently exciting.
  • The Bigger Picture: Step back and see your tasks within the context of your career goals or personal aspirations. How do they move you closer to your “why”?

Intrinsic Motivation: The Fuel for Action:

Once you connect your tasks to a purpose that matters, intrinsic motivation kicks in. This is the internal drive to complete a task for the satisfaction it brings, not just for external rewards or avoiding punishment.

Imagine intrinsic motivation as the engine that drives your actions. It’s the internal satisfaction you get from the act of doing something itself, rather than external rewards or punishments. This could be the joy of learning a new skill, the satisfaction of completing a challenging task, or the sense of accomplishment from contributing to a meaningful project.

Purpose, on the other hand, acts as the fuel for your intrinsic motivation engine. It’s the “why” behind your actions, the larger goal or cause that gives your work meaning and significance. It connects your daily tasks to a bigger picture, something that resonates with your values and aspirations.

Cultivating Intrinsic Motivation:

Here’s how to nurture intrinsic motivation:

  • Focus on mastery: Set achievable goals and celebrate progress. Seeing yourself improve fosters a sense of accomplishment and the desire to keep learning. Knowing your work contributes to a larger goal makes you want to improve your skills and become more effective. This pursuit of mastery is intrinsically motivating.
  • Embrace challenges: View challenges as opportunities for growth, not roadblocks. Overcoming obstacles fuels intrinsic motivation and builds confidence.
  • Autonomy matters: When possible, have a say in how you complete tasks. This sense of control fosters ownership and increases motivation.
  • Sense of Contribution: Purpose taps into our inherent desire to feel like we’re making a difference. Knowing your work contributes to a cause you care about creates a sense of fulfillment and intrinsic motivation.

The Takeaway:

Procrastination thrives when tasks feel meaningless. By connecting your work to a sense of purpose and harnessing the power of intrinsic motivation, you can transform mundane tasks into stepping stones on your journey towards a fulfilling goal. Remember, it’s not just about what you do, but why you do it. So, ditch the pressure to find your passion project and start infusing your work with purpose. You might be surprised at how much easier it becomes to slay the procrastination dragon and achieve your goals.

How to Tailor Your Self-Advocacy for Success

Have you ever crafted the perfect pitch for a raise or promotion, only to be met with a lukewarm response from your manager? It can be frustrating, leaving you wondering what went wrong. The answer might lie in understanding your manager’s perspective and tailoring your self-advocacy accordingly.

Here are some key principles to consider when advocating for yourself:

  • Understanding Management Styles:  Managers have different leadership styles. The Directive Leader is usually decisive, and prefers clear, concise communication; and so it makes sense that when advocating for yourself to focus on facts, figures, and concrete results. Avoid beating around the bush and get straight to the point. The Collaborative Leader values input and teamwork; when approaching them, present your case as a means to benefit the entire team. The Visionary Leader is inspired by big-picture goals and innovation, and so framing your request within the context of the company’s vision is crucial. These are of course just general categories, and most managers exhibit a blend of styles.  Pay close attention to their communication style, decision-making process, and how they interact with team members. 
  • The Framing Effect:  How you frame your request can significantly impact its outcome. Imagine you’re asking for a raise. You could say, “I deserve a raise because I’ve been working hard.” This is a valid statement, but it doesn’t necessarily highlight the value you bring to the company. Instead of simply stating your effort,  frame your request around the results you’ve achieved. “Since implementing the new marketing strategy, I’ve increased sales by 15%. A raise would allow me to continue contributing to this success.” This quantifies your value and positions you as an asset. Ideally, we’re highlighting how your promotion or raise will contribute to the organization’s goals and success.
  • The Power of Reciprocity:  People are more likely to help those who help them.  Before advocating for yourself, consider ways you can support your manager’s initiatives or workload. Look for opportunities to support your manager and their goals.  Offer to take on additional tasks that align with their priorities, volunteer to help with a challenging project, or share your expertise to solve a problem they’re facing.

Crafting Your Message:

Now that we understand the underlying psychology, let’s get tactical:

  • Do Your Research: Gather data on industry standards for your position and experience level. Equip yourself with salary benchmarks and evidence of your accomplishments to strengthen your case for a raise.
  • Focus on Solutions, Not Just Problems: Don’t just list your needs. Present a well-defined plan outlining how your promotion or raise will benefit the company. Be prepared to discuss how you’ll handle additional responsibilities or contribute to achieving specific goals.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Rehearse your pitch beforehand. Anticipate potential questions and craft clear, concise responses. The more confident and prepared you appear, the more persuasive your message will be.

Ditch the Sandwich, Slice it Thin: A Fresher Approach to Employee Feedback

The “feedback sandwich,” that well-worn staple of performance reviews, feels as comforting as stale bread these days. We layer compliments with criticism, hoping the good stuff buffers the blow. But instead, it often undermines the impact of both praise and critique, leaving employees confused and deflated.

So, let’s throw out the stale bread and get slicing with a sharper, more effective approach. 

1. Ditch the Double Dip:

Separate praise and criticism entirely. Give genuine appreciation where due, in separate conversations or moments, so it can be fully savored and owned. Then, when addressing areas for improvement, focus solely on that, with clarity and actionable steps. Two bites, not one.

2. Focus on the Future, Not the Past:

Dwelling on past mistakes isn’t helpful. Instead, frame feedback around future opportunities for growth. Use specific examples to illustrate the impact of current behaviors, but always point towards achievable steps for improvement. Forward motion, not rearview mirror gazing.

3. Make it a Conversation, Not a Dictate:

Feedback isn’t a one-way street. Encourage open dialogue, actively listen to their perspective, and co-create solutions together. This fosters ownership and commitment to change. A duet, not a solo.

4. Action, Not Ambiguity:

Vague platitudes like “be more proactive” leave them hanging. Be specific about desired actions and behaviors. Offer resources, support, and check-ins to ensure progress. Clear roadmap, not a treasure map with X marks the spot.

5. Empathy, Not Edict:

Remember, you’re not giving feedback to a machine. Consider their emotional state, communication style, and receptiveness. Deliver feedback with respect, honesty, and a genuine desire to support their growth. Caring chef, not drill sergeant.

Bonus Tip: Ditch the formality. Feedback doesn’t need to be a quarterly ritual in a conference room. Give it in real-time, in the flow of work, with positive reinforcement woven into the process. Make it a continuous conversation, not a big scary event.

By focusing on actionable steps, open dialogue, and a touch of empathy, we can make feedback a powerful tool for growth, not a dreaded chore. Remember, employees aren’t hungry for stale sandwiches. They want fresh feedback, served with a side of support and a commitment to their growth. Let’s give them the nourishment they deserve to truly thrive.

Nurturing a Culture of Generosity and Growth

In the world of leadership, success is often measured by the impact we make on our teams and the lasting legacy we leave behind. As we navigate the intricate dance of leading a company, it’s not just about profits and bottom lines; it’s about cultivating a culture of generosity, growth, and enduring success. Drawing inspiration from the philosophy of giving, let’s explore the principles that can transform you into a truly successful leader.

1. The Art of Generosity

Successful leaders understand the profound impact of generosity. It’s not just about giving perks or bonuses; it’s about giving time, attention, and opportunities. Be generous with your knowledge, your mentorship, and your willingness to listen. When you create a culture of generosity, you foster an environment where your team feels supported and empowered to thrive.

2. Nurture a Growth Mindset

Embrace the power of a growth mindset, not just for yourself but for your entire organization. Encourage your team to see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. When mistakes happen, reframing them as valuable lessons rather than failures can shift the entire dynamic of your workplace. A growth mindset fosters innovation, resilience, and a collective commitment to continuous improvement.

3. Empowerment through Delegation

As a leader, it’s tempting to take on everything yourself. However, true success lies in the art of delegation. Empower your team by entrusting them with responsibilities and decision-making authority. Delegating not only lightens your load but also cultivates a sense of ownership and accountability within your team, propelling them towards greater heights.

4. Embrace Diverse Perspectives

In the pursuit of success, diversity is not just a checkbox; it’s a strategic advantage. Actively seek out and embrace diverse perspectives within your team. When people from different backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints come together, the synergy can lead to innovative solutions and a richer, more resilient company culture.

5. Foster Psychological Safety

Success flourishes in an environment where team members feel safe to express their ideas, voice concerns, and take risks without fear of retribution. Prioritize psychological safety by encouraging open communication, actively listening to feedback, and valuing each team member’s unique contributions. A psychologically safe workplace is the breeding ground for creativity, collaboration, and genuine success.

6. Lead with Humility

The most successful leaders are not those who trumpet their accomplishments but rather those who lead with humility. Acknowledge your mistakes, be open to learning from others, and celebrate the achievements of your team. Humility creates a culture where everyone feels valued, fostering a collective sense of purpose and commitment to shared goals.

7. Continuous Learning and Adaptation

In the dynamic landscape of business, success is an ongoing journey, not a final destination. Cultivate a culture of continuous learning and adaptation. Stay curious, encourage your team to explore new ideas, and be willing to pivot when necessary. The ability to adapt is a hallmark of enduring success.


As a leader, success is not solely defined by the numbers on a balance sheet but by the lasting impact you make on your team and the organization as a whole. Embrace the principles of generosity, growth, and a genuine commitment to the well-being of your team. By leading with a giving mindset, you not only elevate your own success but also contribute to the collective success of those around you. Remember, true leadership is not about being the best; it’s about bringing out the best in others.

The Dance of Stability: How Job Security Influences Job Performance

In the intricate world of the workplace, the concept of job security plays a pivotal role not just in the minds of employees but also in the overall performance of a team or an organization. Job security, or the perceived stability of one’s employment, is a nuanced factor that can significantly shape the way individuals approach their work. Let’s explore the delicate dance between job security and job performance.

The Foundation of Confidence

At its core, job security acts as the bedrock upon which employee confidence is built. When individuals feel secure in their positions, they are more likely to invest themselves fully in their roles. The assurance of a stable future allows employees to focus on the tasks at hand without the looming specter of uncertainty, paving the way for heightened job performance.

Motivation and Commitment

Job security serves as a powerful motivator. Employees who feel that their contributions are valued and that their positions are secure are more likely to demonstrate a strong commitment to their roles. This commitment, in turn, fuels a sense of ownership and responsibility, driving individuals to go above and beyond in their efforts to contribute to the success of the team.

Creativity and Innovation

The impact of job security extends beyond routine tasks to the realm of creativity and innovation. In an environment where jobs are secure, employees are more inclined to take risks, share bold ideas, and contribute innovative solutions. The fear of job instability can stifle creativity, as individuals may be hesitant to step outside their comfort zones for fear of potential repercussions.

Employee Well-being and Health

The psychological toll of job insecurity is undeniable. Uncertainty about one’s professional future can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and a decline in overall mental well-being. Conversely, a sense of job security contributes to a positive work environment, promoting better mental health and, consequently, improved job performance.

Long-Term Engagement and Loyalty

Job security is closely tied to the longevity of an employee’s commitment to an organization. When individuals perceive their positions as secure, they are more likely to invest in their professional development within the company. This long-term engagement and loyalty can result in a more experienced and dedicated workforce, positively impacting overall job performance.

The Ripple Effect on Team Dynamics

The collective mindset of a team is profoundly influenced by the perceived level of job security. In an atmosphere of stability, teams are more likely to collaborate effectively, share knowledge, and support each other. On the contrary, an environment marked by uncertainty can lead to a breakdown in teamwork as individuals may prioritize self-preservation over collective success.

Striking a Balance

While job security undeniably plays a crucial role in job performance, it’s essential for organizations to strike a balance. Excessive complacency due to absolute job security can lead to a lack of motivation and innovation. Therefore, fostering an environment that values both stability and a dynamic, growth-oriented mindset is key to optimizing job performance.

In Conclusion

Job security is not merely a contractual agreement; it’s a silent orchestrator that influences the performance, motivation, and overall well-being of employees. Organizations that prioritize cultivating a sense of security within their workforce stand to benefit from a more engaged, motivated, and high-performing team. As leaders, recognizing the symbiotic relationship between job security and job performance is a step toward creating a workplace where individuals can thrive and contribute their best.