Three Necessities For Eradicating Leadership Suspicion


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It is not uncommon to encounter teams or whole organizations that have a growing sense of suspicion towards their leaders.

To be suspicious is to have a feeling that something is wrong or that someone is behaving wrongly. 

Suspicion can mount over quick, impactful decisions. 

Suspicion can rare its ugly head over seemingly improper benefits or favoritism.

Suspicion can grow in the fertile soil of silence and isolation.

Suspicion can be nurtured in the absence of any viable process.

The reality is that lingering suspicion breeds an “us vs. them” mentality.

Suspicion will result in followers giving less than their best.

Suspicion leads to a lack of honesty from followers–therefore, leaders will never have a clear picture of team or organizational reality.

Suspicion kills trust.

Leaders can create suspicion without even thinking. Actually, that is the primary way in which leaders create suspicion. Often, the prelude to an atmosphere of suspicion is the desire for efficiency . Most leaders do not go about craftily trying to deceive their followers. They simply want to execute strategy and change at the speed of light. They communicate out of order. They circumnavigate organizational culture. They see the problem and the solution–but not the appropriate process. Their followers begin to surmise. Followers begin to attribute poor motives to the leaders above them. A spirit of suspicion is birthed and the consequences will certainly multiply.

If you are a leader who has knowingly or unknowingly created an atmosphere of suspicion–there is a remedy. Or better yet, there is a pathway to allaying suspicion before it begins. There are three things that are necessary to keeping suspicion at bay.

  1. Inclusion.  By definition, to be excluded is to be left out. When people feel left out they create their own narrative. Leaders must always assess a situation and determine who must be included in key decisions and information sharing. To assume that you can exclude key stakeholders that will certainly be affected is to certainly to sow the seeds of suspicion. Not every person you influence or have authority over must be included. But those that can make or break a decision or stall out a new initiative must be a part of the information chain and possibly the decision process.
  2. Transparency. This follows on the heels of inclusion. There must be a proper transparency in all of the communication that surrounds a critical decision or point of change. This communication must include the right people and the right means. Sensitive decisions are not best handled via email or social media. They must be communicated in such a way as to invite dialogue and feedback. Questions must have the opportunity to be asked and answered. This takes time. But it takes much more time to undo the damage of suspicion and mistrust.
  3. Formality. Agreed upon processes must be honored. Pat MacMillan, in his book The Performance  Factor, states “Processes are the ‘how’ we go about achieving the ‘what’ in our purpose. They are a sequence of step-by-step actions designed to produce a desired outcome. Processes, like other dimensions of organizational life, must be addressed with a determined intentionality.” Agreed upon processes can exist for a variety of organizational functions: hiring, decision making, conflict resolution, strategic planning, etc. When agreed upon processes are followed, suspicion is greatly reduced. When processes are violated for the sake of efficiency or expediency followers feel cheated and misled. Suspicion is the natural result. Carefully design necessary processes. Gain consensus around these processes. Embrace the formality of carefully conceived regimens that will save you a lot of heartaches later.

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray. Proverbs 10:17

5 for Leadership-January 9th


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Here is a fresh 5 for Leadership. The new year is still young and this is a great season to set some personal leadership development goals. Some of these topics may be just the thing to jump-start 2016.

God’s Cleaning His House . . . The Church

“God is cleaning house in the American Church. Through current events dealing with ethnicity, race, and systemic oppression, He is exposing our dirty laundry (the systemic segregation in our churches, interpersonal networks, and theological formation) because He loves us.” This comes from D.A. Horton . . . and is worth the read. He also includes a great reading list as a resource.

16 Keys To Creating The Year You Want

The title speaks for itself. See what Dan Rockwell shares about getting your year off to the right start.

How To Tell Who You Can Truly Trust in Leadership

“So who can you trust… mean truly trust in leadership? You’ve trusted people you thought you could trust, only to be disappointed or get burned (sometimes badly). You’ve decided not to trust someone, only to realize you were wrong and he or she was completely trustworthy, and you missed a great opportunity to grow your team. Trusting people in leadership can be a disheartening and confusing proposition.” Take a look at Carey Nieuwhof’s three principles for trusting leaders.

Best of Leadership Network Today-January

“Here’s a collection of interesting, thought-provoking articles from around the web from recent weeks.” There are a wealth of resources in this post . . . as Leadership Network always does.

The 25 Essential Books for Every Entrepreneur’s Library

“No matter what stage you’re at in the entrepreneur journey, whether you just launched your first startup or have started several successful businesses, you can always use the advice of people who have “been there, done that.’’ What better way to get advice than from the pages of a book?”

There are the 5 for this week. I hope your 2016 is off to a great leadership start.

5 for Leadership (2/14/15)

3915604902_f66d2bf6e1Here is a fresh 5 for your Valentine’s Day. We have posts on Tim Tebow, leadership inquiry, leadership truths, leadership trust, and happy habits. Take some time and become more informed as a leader.

Trust & Leadership  “The key to a leader’s success is the relationship they develop with their constituents. This relationship is always based on trust. Without a deep sense of trust, a leader cannot have any relationship with constituents.” This comes from Will Lukang on the Lead Change Group blog.

7 Inquiry Methods You Must Master  “For most adults, inquiry is a route to information. For teenagers, questions are a rhetorical way to emphasize their point. For toddlers, questions serve to drive their parents batty. There’s also a more nuanced role for questions.” This provides an interesting paradigm for influence–from David Fields. Take a look.

Did You Learn These 9 Critical Leadership Truths?  “As I was visiting my children’s school*, I was struck by 9 critical leadership truths that were being promoted. What impacted me was the fact that as a leadership coach and consultant, I am often talking about these very same qualities and skills with my ‘adult’ clients.” This comes from Andrew Bryant and was found on Linkedin Pulse.

7 Essential Habits of Happier People (How Many Do You Possess?)  “Happiness: everyone wants it, yet relatively few seem to get enough of it, especially those in their early forties. (That’s about the time many of us start thinking, ‘Is this all there is’)” Jeff Haden offers some worthy reflection–this too coming from Linkedin Pulse.

Out of the NFL, Tebow Builds His Lasting Legacy  “The incredible fourth quarter finale to this year’s Super Bowl, complete with a bobbling catch and unlikely interception, made me wonder what’s become of a Christian brother with a knack for fourth quarter heroics: Tim Tebow.” Here is a leader who continues to make a difference in the lives of others.

There are the 5 for this week. Read more than one of these posts and consider.

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5 for Leadership (2/7/15)

4337593410_634b07caf2This week, 5 for Leadership covers some broad ground concerning leadership topics. We have posts on hidden leaders, the topic of trust in leadership, questioning leadership, pastoral leadership, and the topic of racism. Take a few minutes and consider!

4 Keys to Finding Hidden Leaders in Your Organization  “. . . ‘hidden leaders are those people in your organization who share the belief that what they do matters.’ And they are all around us.” There are four key indentifiers to discovering your hidden leaders. Take a look at this timely post on the Leading Blog.

How Do You Answer These “Open Leadership” Questions?  “Open Leadership author Charlene Li reminds leaders to periodically ask themselves these ‘open leadership skills assessment’ questions.” Here are seven questions that must be asked and answered regularly.

To Trust Means To Be Careless  “There are numerous resources stating what trust is and what trust isn’t. There are countless articles, illustrations and books with all kinds of defintions. So I decided to embark on my own search for the meaning of the word trust.” Lolly Daskal writes a great piece on the very nature of trust in leadership.

7 Suggestions for Pastors and Pastor Spouses to Find True Friends  Ron Edmondson shares  seven very practical insights for all those who lead in the ministry in facing the challenge of finding and staying in community. You will want to take a look at this post if you lead in the ministry space.

The Biblical Root of Racism  There are times as leaders when we need to challenge our own perspectives on a variety of topics. This post by my friend Dirke Johnson will do just. “Racist! Few labels are hurled in today’s rhetoric that packs such a combative punch. The knee-jerk reaction to the charge of racism is immediate denial. No one wants to admit to racism. It has become viewed as one of society’s most evil sins. And for this reason I have found it counterproductive to ever use the word as a label, even if it might be true.”

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5 for Leadership (11/15/14)

small__136782490A new 5 for Leadership is out for this 3rd week in November. There are posts on servant leadership, leadership trust, distracted leaders, a leadership metaphor, and leaders as dreamers. Take a few minutes and grow your leadership.

A Leadership Secret for Today’s Distracted Leader  “Now I cannot remember the person who said this many years ago. But, I will never forget writing down the words in my notebook when I heard the speaker declare them from the platform, ‘When you’re in the room, be in the room.'” This comes from Roy Saunderson on the Switch & Shift blog.

Trust As The Differentiator  “82% percent of people don’t trust that their leaders tell them the truth. This statistic is sobering, sad, and at the same time an amazing opportunity for those leaders who want to differentiate their organizations on the basis of trust – both with employees and with customers. What if transparency and trust were truly seen as differentiators in the workplace?” This post comes from Jim Haudan, also on the Switch & Shift blog.

One Metaphor That Taught Me Everything About Leadership  “Who is a better leader? A clock builder or time teller?” Paul Sohn reflects on some timeless principles from Jim Collins and amplifies them. Take a look at three truths that will transform your leadership.

Great Leaders Are Dreamers  “We were all taught in Supervision 101 that managers are directors of stuff—policies, materials, numbers, and systems; while leaders are influencers of people. People have hearts and souls rather than programs and sums; people are emotional, not just logical. And, that is where the dream part comes in.” See what Chip Bell has to say that relates directly to self leadership.

Servant Leaders Are Authentic-Acronym Model   “The next principle in the SERVANT Leadership acronym is Authentic. Authenticity is all about transparency. A great leader is the same in private as they are in public. What they speak behind closed doors matches what they say on stage. The authentic servant leader is consistent in message and transparent in intent.” This is number 5 of a 6 part series on what it means to be a servant leader. After you read this one, link to the previous four.

There are the 5 for this week. Take some time this weekend to strengthen your leadership.

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5 for Leadership (6/28/14)

small__176461247Here is the latest 5 for Leadership. We have posts on leadership questions, leadership decisions, leadership trust, leadership lessons from WWI and the need for leaders to listen. Take a few minutes and see if there is something here for you.

Why Making Decisions Is So Hard  “Making decisions is one of the most difficult things we do.  If it is that hard to choose between the mint chocolate chip and the rocky road, how much more do we agonize over this church or that church, this school or that school, this job or that job, this person or that person?” Tim Challies provides some excellent insight into this common challenge. 

3 Ways To Tell Who You Can Trust In Leadership  “So who can you trust…I mean really trust in leadership? You’ve trusted people you thought you could trust, only to be disappointed or get burned (sometimes badly). You’ve decided not to trust someone, only to realize you were wrong and he or she was completely trustworthy, and you missed a great opportunity to grow your team.” Carey Nieuwhof gives us three solid principles on picking your next leader.

Questions That Make A Difference  This is a guest post by Lolly Daskal on Bib Tiede’s blog. This is an excellent post for any leader of any stripe, and you need to snoop around Bob’s web site. It is filled with quality material on the importance and skill of asking great questions.

The Outbreak of the First World War-Lessons for Leaders Today  Here is a eight and half minute video from Jon Chapman on leadership insights from WWI. This is in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of this oft forgotten conflict. This is a lesson in looking forward by looking back.

Leaders Listen  ” . . . I’m starting to consider that every Christian women’s conference is every Christian man’s business. The incarnation would have it no other way. Too long, we’ve mistakenly billed women’s issues as the concerns of women alone—when pastors and husbands, if they want to lead well, must lean attentively into the conversations women are having.” See what else Jen Pollock Michel has to say on this important topic.

There are the 5 for this week. I hope you celebrate well this week!