Growing in our leadership abilities, including growing in the knowledge of leadership and the relational aspect of leadership, should be a goal for every leader.
Sadly, in my experiencee, many leaders settle for a sort of status quo leadership rather than stretching themselves to continually improve. They settle for mediocre quality of leading, fathering than attempting the hard work of leadership excellence. They remain oblivious to the real health of their leadership and the organizations they lead. They may get by – people may say things are “okay” leaders, but no one would call them exceptional leaders.
I have often referred to this style of leadership as shallow leadership.
Perhaps you’ve seen this before or maybe you’ve been guilty of providing shallow leadership. For seasons, at least, I am not too proud to admit I certainly have.
If you’re still wondering what shallow leadership looks like, let me offer some suggestions.
Thinking your idea will be everyone’s idea. You assume everyone is on the same page with you. You think everyone thinks like you. That’s because you’ve stopped asking questions of your team. You have stopped evaluating everything. You aren’t open to constructive evaluation – of you.
Believing your way is the only way. You’re the leader- you must be right, right? Maybe you’ve had some success and it went to your head just a little. Perhaps you’ve become – or you’ve always been – a little stubborn or head strong. You may even be controlling. You have to make or sign off on every decision. You may never delegate. Those are all signs of shallow leadership, because you’ve likely shut out some of the best ideas within the organization – which reside among the people you are trying to lead.
Assuming you already know the answer. You think you’ve done it long enough to see it all, so you quit learning. You have stopped reading. You never meet with other leaders anymore.
Pretending to care when really you don’t. This is so common among shallow leaders. Shallow leaders have grown cold in their passion. They may speak the vision, but they’re just words on a page or hung on a wall now. They may even go through all the motions. They are still drawing a paycheck, but if the truth be known, they’d rather be anywhere than where they are right now.
Giving the response, which makes you most popular. Shallow leaders like to be liked. They never make the hard decisions, refuse to challenge, avoid conflict, and run from complainers. They ignore the real problems in the organization so things never really get better.
Refusing to make a decision. Often a shallow leader had a setback at some point. Things didn’t go as planned, so they’ve grown scared or overwhelmed and so they refuse to walk by faith. The team won’t move forward because the leader won’t move forward.
Ignoring the warning signs of poor health. This can be poor health in the organization, the team, or in the leader. Things may not be “awesome” anymore. Momentum may be suffering. Shallow leaders look the other way. And, again, it could be the leader. Your soul may be empty. You may be the one unhealthy. Or the team may be unhealthy. Shallow leaders refuse to see it or do anything about it.
We never achieve our best with shallow leadership. And, the first step is always to admit.
If you’re like most people, you’re looking ahead to the New Year and thinking about what you would like to accomplish. With innovation being on the brink in healthcare the last several years, one thing has surely taken place: restricted access to the right people in order to talk about your solution.
It may sound very simple on the surface; however, navigating the murky waters of healthcare successfully towards gaining access to the decision maker is difficult. And if it’s your goal to gain “Access” in the New Year, it’s a highly coveted and ambitious one.
When the healthcare world was less commoditized, conveying trust was enough to make the sale. Today, there’s simply too much noise in the market place and erodes the ability to gain traction or trust. This leads to many solutions providers ending up swimming in the dreaded sea of similar.
3 Ways Trust Can Be Ruined In an Instant
Gaining access to a decision maker has a lot to do with compatibility and reputation. If you have a great reputation, they’re more likely to listen to what you have to say. Compatibility is not just about how well your personalities mesh. It has more to do with how the healthcare solutions provider sees you and whether or not they trust you.
Trust is vital in any relationship; especially, a sales relationship. It’s been said that trust is the foundation upon which salespeople will achieve success. It will keep your customers coming back and choosing you over your competitors. Unfortunately, trust can be lost in an instant. Here are three ways you can lose the trust of a healthcare solutions provider.
1. Having a Hidden Agenda
A lot of salespeople are focused solely on sales. While sales are important—after all, sales are the lifeline of any organization looking to survive and thrive—it shouldn’t be the only focus. A salesperson doesn’t necessarily have to blatantly show or tell the client that they’re focused solely on themselves. Subconsciously, clients can pick up on even the subtlest of signs. When they feel like they’re not as important as the sale, trust goes right out the window.
Here’s the cool thing, you can eliminate rejection forever simply by giving up the hidden agenda of hoping to make a sale. Instead, be sure that everything you say and do aligns with basic mindset that you’re there to help identify and solve their issues.
2. Moving Too Quickly
Customers, especially one’s in healthcare, don’t like to be forced to do anything. In many situations, customers feel like they’re almost being bullied by a salesperson. Trying to move the relationship too quickly is detrimental to the trusted relationship between the customer and salesperson. Relationships are complex and multi-dimensional, which means that pressure leads to resistance and road blocks in your trust equity building efforts.
Contemplate letting go of trying to close the sale or get the appointment. What you’ll discover is that you don’t have to take responsibility for moving the sales process forward.
Simply focus your conversation on the problems that you can help prospects solve. By not jumping the gun and trying to move the sales process forward, you’ll learn that your potential customers will give you the direction you need.
3. Having No Understanding or Empathy for the Customer
Everyone wants to feel understood; it’s a basic human essential. At the very least, they want those around them to feel some empathy for what they’re going through, even if they can’t completely understand the situation. Your Potential clients & customers feel the same way. They have bad days, they may be dealing with difficult life circumstances, or they may be overwhelmed by all of their responsibilities at work.
Trust will be lost if you or anyone on your sales team fails to acknowledge the challenges that your customers are going through. In essence, the customer will feel like their feelings, even their existence, have been belittled. And, when they feel this way there is no way they’re going to trust the person who is contributing to them feel this way.
How to Build Trust and Gain Continual Access to Potential Customers
What will it take for healthcare solutions provider to start gaining access to the decision makers during the New Year? There are three steps they can take.
1. Tell the Truth
There’s no better way to earn a client’s trust than with honesty. Clients want to know what you can and can’t provide for them. Stretching the truth to gain the sale will only lead to disappointment, both for them and for your wallet.
2. Embrace Transparency
This goes hand-in-hand with honesty. Keep your promises for sure, however, don’t start making promises that you can’t keep. A lack of honesty and authenticity will definitely have an adverse effect on your reputation with the decision-makers.
3. Replace “Selling” With “Caring”
Those in the healthcare field enter the field because they want to help other people. They’re constantly caring for others. They need to be cared for, too. This is where you come in. If you make your customers feel well cared for, they’re sure to become loyal customers.
Instead of burning a lead by asking “probing” questions to qualify a potential client, you might want to consider how you can add value through concrete insights and build trust beforehand.
Moving Ahead, Access Will Be Predicated Upon Building “Trust Equity”
In the world of quotas and benchmarks things have become watered down and sales conversations have somehow become surface level and NOT authentic.
The currency of the new economy is trust. And you need TRUST beforehand to even get ACCESS.
Building “trust equity” is a long-term, never-ending effort of communicating, listening, building trust and establishing credibility. My belief is that you’ll be more likely to win over customers’ trust over time and tap into a well of abundance that’ll never dry out.
Learn How You Measure Up on the “Trusted-Access” Scale
Like any business strategy, determine what measurements need to be in place to determine effectiveness. Have a strong grip on what those KPI’s are and manage towards those goals each month.
Animals, like humans, are reluctant to give up on pursuits they’ve invested in, psychologists report.
Suppose that, seeking a fun evening out, you pay $175 for a ticket to a new Broadway musical. Seated in the balcony, you quickly realize that the acting is bad, the sets are ugly and no one, you suspect, will go home humming the melodies.
Do you head out the door at the intermission, or stick it out for the duration?
Studies of human decision-making suggest that most people will stay put, even though money spent in the past logically should have no bearing on the choice.
This “sunk cost fallacy,” as economists call it, is one of many ways that humans allow emotions to affect their choices, sometimes to their own detriment. But the tendency to factor past investments into decision-making is apparently not limited to Homo sapiens.
In a study published on Thursday in the journal Science, investigators at the University of Minnesota reported that mice and rats were just as likely as humans to be influenced by sunk costs.
The more time they invested in waiting for a reward — in the case of the rodents, flavored pellets; in the case of the humans, entertaining videos — the less likely they were to quit the pursuit before the delay ended.
“Whatever is going on in the humans is also going on in the nonhuman animals,” said A. David Redish, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Minnesota and an author of the study.
This cross-species consistency, he and others said, suggested that in some decision-making situations, taking account of how much has already been invested might pay off.
“Evolution by natural selection would not promote any behavior unless it had some — perhaps obscure — net overall benefit,” said Alex Kacelnik, a professor of behavioral ecology at Oxford, who praised the new study as “rigorous” in its methodology and “well designed.”
“If everybody does it, the reasoning goes, there must be a reason,” Dr. Kacelnik said.
Even more important than the similarity among species was the study’s finding that sunk cost effects appeared only after the subjects had decided to pursue a reward, Dr. Redish noted, not while they were still deliberating whether to do so.
In effect, the animals seemed to consider the deliberation time not to be part of their investment — an indication, Dr. Redish said, that different brain processes might be at work in different aspects of decision-making.
The idea runs counter to the notion that “time is time, and you’re wasting it either way,” he said.
Shelly Flagel, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the study, said the research had “far-reaching implications across fields including education, economics, psychology, neuroscience and psychiatry.”
For example, she said, persisting in a behavior even though it has adverse consequences is reminiscent of the conduct “exhibited by people with addictions.”
“Once they start searching for their next ‘fix,’ they will often go hours or days on the same quest, even if it means giving up food, relationships, their job,” Dr. Flagel said.
Learning more about the distinct processes that go awry in psychiatric disorders like addiction might yield new strategies for treatment, she added.
In the study, led by a doctoral student, Brian M. Sweis, three research laboratories at the University of Minnesota collaborated to conduct tests on mice, rats and humans. The rodents were trained to forage for the flavored pellets — banana, chocolate, grape or plain — in a square maze with a “restaurant” in each corner.
The humans were taught to “forage” on a computer for videos of kittens, “dance landscapes” or bicycle accidents. Both rodents and humans were given an overall time limit for the foraging tasks.
In the rodents’ version of the task, the animal first entered an “offer zone” outside a restaurant and heard a pitched tone that informed it how long the wait would be for the pellet reward — a delay that varied randomly from 1 to 30 seconds.
The animal could skip the offer, in which case it was withdrawn, or it could enter the “wait zone” of the restaurant, setting off a countdown signaled by a descending tone. At any time during the countdown, the rodent could choose to leave the restaurant, but once it left it could not return without going all the way around through the other restaurant offer zones.
In the human version of the experiment, subjects were offered a video and presented with buttons saying “stay” or “skip.” A download bar informed them how long they would have to wait to view the video. Clicking the “stay” button started a countdown, and the screen showed the progression of the download.
The study found that the more time the rodents spent in the “wait zone,” the more likely they were to stick out the delay to the end, even though the longer they waited, the more it cut into their overall time to seek food.
Similarly, the longer the human subjects spent waiting for a video to download, the more likely they were to stay the course until the download was finished.
Surprisingly, the amount of time that the subjects — rodent or human — spent deliberating whether to accept the “offer” of a reward did not affect whether they quit before receiving it or stayed through to the end.
“Obviously, the best thing is as quick as possible to get into the wait zone,” Dr. Redish said. “But nobody does that. Somehow, all three species know that if you get into the wait zone, you’re going to pay this sunk cost, and they actually spend extra time deliberating in the offer zone so that they don’t end up getting stuck.”
Dr. Flagel, of the University of Michigan, noted that as compelling as the new research was, it was not without limitations, including the fact that the tasks presented to humans and rodents, though similar in some ways, were still quite different.
“The challenge moving forward,” Dr. Flagel said, “is going to be to know that one is truly capturing the same phenomenon across species. Or perhaps more appropriately, what is the meaning of the differences that will be revealed between species?”
I have a motto when it comes to honesty and transparency at work: Spin belongs in the gym, not the workplace.
Spinning the truth is a way of shaping our communications to make our self, the company, or the situation appear better than it is in reality. It’s become so commonplace in the corporate world that many times we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We “spin” by selectively sharing the facts, overemphasizing the positive, minimizing the negative, or avoiding the obvious, all in an attempt to manipulate the perception of others. See if a few of these spins on the truth sound familiar:
Spinning the truth is one of the most common ways leaders bust trust. It also leads to tremendous inefficiencies because people are confused about roles, they duplicate work, balls get dropped, and people resort to blaming others. Poor morale, cynicism, and political infighting become the norm when honesty and transparency are disregarded.
There are macro-level societal events and trends driving the need for greater transparency in the workplace. We’re all familiar with the digital privacy concerns related to the pervasiveness of technology in our lives, and we’ve witnessed the corporate scandals of blatant deceit and dishonesty that’s contributed to record low levels of trust. The global meltdown of trust in business, government, and other institutions over the last several years has generated cries for more transparency in communications, legislation, and governance. Oddly enough, research has shown that in our attempts to be more transparent, we may actually be suffering an illusion of transparency—the belief that people are perceiving and understanding our motivations, intents, and communications more than they actually are.
But at the individual, team, and organization levels, what can we do to build greater trust, honesty, and transparency? I have four suggestions:
Spin is a great activity for the gym and it keeps you in fantastic shape. However, in the workplace, spin is deadly to your health as a leader. It leads to low trust, poor morale, and cynicism in your team. Keep spin in the gym and out of the workplace.