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Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

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Without Trust, Change is Difficult If Not Impossible to Achieve

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The need for trust in the workplace and communication therein is understood by many leaders to be the foundational building block of the organization. The degree of trust developed will impact employee performance and retention, the development of teams and implementation of organizational change. Irrespective of size and industry, organizations are comprised of individuals who desire the same thing: the ability to trust those they work with. People cannot trust an organization, but they can trust their superiors, employees and associates.

Issues of broken trust and personal betrayal are far from just the result of restructuring, downsizing or other major organizational events. They are the product of the numerous micro-decisions that leaders and managers make every day. When individuals do not keep agreements or remain true to their word, and do not share information or trust another employee’s judgment or competence, trust is breached. Employees develop feelings of betrayal that lead to a chain of unresolved conflicts. These unresolved conflicts build a strong sense of mistrust and disloyalty that is extremely difficult to counteract.

This is important for leaders because they are personally responsible for developing the trust needed to bind their organization together into a cohesive unit. They have the personal ability to control the series of micro-decisions that contribute to a sense of mistrust and undermine their ability to lead. With their personal words and actions, they have the power to build or destroy their employee’s faith. They are the ones who must know that every statement or decision, no matter how inconsequential it may appear at the time, has an effect on whether or not corporate goals are reached.

Feelings of broken trust and betrayal are not just the byproducts of cataclysmic organizational change. They happen every day, and are in fact so pervasive that studies conducted since the mid-1940s have consistently shown that employees seem to have higher needs for esteem, respect and self-actualization, while most employers feel concerned only for their employees’ salary and safety. This demonstrates a clear disconnect that has implications for the future of organizations.

There is an increased need for trust in organizations as the world and corporate environments continue to change. Both organizational structures and managerial practices are changing and these changes do not appear to be ending in the near term. The policies and traditions that cemented employees to a company, which they relied upon, have disappeared. They have all exacted a high price in the form of diminishing employee loyalty and trust.

Many managers and leaders will quickly attribute the lack of loyalty to employee job-hopping. Yet the 2001 Randstad North American Employee Review reported that 77% of employees polled defined success as “a long-term commitment with one company.”

The lack of trust in many work environments is pervasive. Restructuring, mergers and acquisitions have produced not only opportunity, but also uncertainty and anxiety. Individuals in the current climate feel that they are unable to trust their future, their organization or even themselves.

Leaders need to create open and flexible organizations that are able to readily adapt to rapidly changing conditions. All indications point to organizational environments becoming more complex as changes and global pressures become more intense. While this places tremendous stress on the organization, leaders must also respond to their employees’ needs in a way that honors relationships and builds trust.

Change requires organizations to become agile and flexible. This demands employees who are willing to take risks. Taking risks requires employees that are able to trust themselves, their capabilities, and decisions as well as their leaders, coworkers and organizations.

Leaders must learn to evaluate their employees to determine their capacity for trust. This means establishing a foundation for trust that demands that past unsettled conflicts be resolved before a solid foundation for trust can be built. It also means that leaders must be conscious of their daily practices that either make or break employee trust.

The dynamics of trust are complex. It takes time and effort to develop trust and one small event to lose it. Regaining lost trust, while extremely difficult, is a critical element in any relationship. By first trusting themselves and others, it is possible for leaders to then develop caring, genuine relationships and rebuild trust with their employees.

When trust is ignored, the pain and price is tremendous, as it is the key to all successful change initiatives within the organization. Without trust, change will be difficult if not impossible to achieve.

Excerpt: Building and Nurturing Trust in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD


Building Employee Support Requires Interactive Leadership

Eight Ways Others Evaluate Trust in Leaders

Five Strategies to Build Trust

The Concept of Change Means Leaders Must Communicate

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Leadership Roles & Responsibilities: Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Negative Employee Behaviors: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

The Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Questioning Positions Advance the Dialogue

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Before asking questions, it is essential to know from what position an individual wishes to ask something. It is part of the questioning process to determine the stance he or she needs or wants to take in order to obtain the desired information. It is useful to adhere to the following steps in order to begin defining and determining question positioning.

First, the issue, concern or topic must be defined along with restrictions or expansions. Next, the main topic or issue “aspect,” or the angle or point of view on the matter is identified. The “aspect” often includes a phrase within a certain question that tends to end in “of,” as in “the importance of” or “the implications of.”

It is essential to be clear about how the “aspect” relates to the topic at hand. Aspect questions can reflect an example, a point of view, a stage in the questioning sequence, a cause and effect relationship within the topic or issue, or even one solution that represents a problem in regard to it.

The questioning “aspect,” which often comes at the beginning, must also be identified along with what it means and what it requires in terms of incorporating specific words and phrases. The particular viewpoint must be delineated as well as whether it is the same one the questioner wants the responder(s) to have.

The individual asking questions should not jump to conclusions about what they consider to be an acceptable answer. Different questioning positions or stances should be applied to move dialogue and information-gathering forward.

Below is a list of the most common questioning positions to take with examples.

Account for – Requires an answer that gives the reasons for the subject of the question:

  • Can you tell me why there is a need for the large-scale production cutbacks?”

Analyze – Requires an answer that breaks an idea, concept or statement down in order to consider all of its components. Answers of this type should be very methodical and logically organized:

  • “How do you go about isolating the changes in company policy toward our competitors?”

Compare – Requires an answer that sets items side by side and shows their similarities and differences. A balanced, fair and objective answer is expected:

  • “Will you tell me about the contribution of our research development and product testing in regard to the product distribution cycle?”

Consider – Requires an answer in which the responder describes and offers his or her thoughts on the subject:

  • “In what way has our human resources management department been involved in the training of our employees?”

Contrast – Requires an answer that points out the differences between two items:

  • “Will you inform me about the various positive and negative factors and influences in regard to our major competitive products?”

Criticize – Requires a balanced answer that points out mistakes or weaknesses, or one that also indicates any favorable aspects of the topic or subject of the question.

  • “To what extent is an understanding of the various approaches useful or not useful for allowing us to make better sense of existing employment relationships?”

Define – Requires an answer that explains the precise meaning of a concept. A definition answer will include definition structure, and one that is likely expanded.

  • What does the concept of ‘management roles’ mean to our managers?”

Describe – Requires an answer that explains what something is like or how it works:

  • “Will you enlighten me about the criteria used for determining the company’s expenditure policy?”

Discuss – Requires an answer that explains an item or concept and offers details about the topic or issue with supportive information or examples, and can point for and/or against something, where explanations for the facts are brought to the forefront. It is important to give both sides of an argument and come to a conclusion:

  • “Will you help me understand the main requirements of the law in respect to employer-employee relationships?”

Evaluate/Assess – Requires an answer that decides and explains how valuable or important something is. The judgment should be backed by a discussion of the evidence or reasoning involved:

  • How would you factor the contribution of our customer service policy into this situation?”

Explain – Requires an answer that offers a rather detailed and exact explanation of an idea or principle, or a set of reasons for a situation or attitude:

  • “What exactly is the concept of management roles?”

Explore – Requires an answer that thoroughly examines the subject or topic and considers it from a variety of viewpoints:

  • “Will you tell me more about the economies and diseconomies of our company’s various profit centers?”

Expound – Requires an answer that explains what something means and renders points clear and coherent:

  • “What deductions can be made after studying the graph exhibited in element C?”

Illustrate – Requires an answer that consists primarily of examples to demonstrate or prove the subject, topic or inference within the question. It is often added to another response or question:

  • “To what extent does the public participate in the research and development process?”

Justify – Requires an answer that gives only the reasons for a particular position or argument. The issue to be argued may be a negative one as well as positive:

  • “What factors determine client and customer demands?”

Prove/Disprove – Both of these require answers that demonstrate the logical arguments and/or evidence connected with an idea or proposition. Proving requires “pro” points; disproving “contra” points:

  • “Will you give me a verbal description as to the functional importance of the IT department in its current operational capacity?”

State – Requires an answer that briefly and clearly expresses relevant points without lengthy discussion of minor details:

  • “Our company is often at a disadvantage when dealing with industry at a technical level. What do you think we can do about it?”

Summarize/Outline – Requires an answer that contains only the main points of the information available on a topic, issue or subject. Questions of this type often require short answers:

  • “Will you support your answer through detailing a typical profile of where it applies and how?”

To What Extent Is This True? – Requires an answer that discusses and explains the ways in which something is true and untrue:

  • “Could you please disclose some of the ramifications of employee behavior in situations involving authority?”

Trace – Requires a statement and brief description in logical or chronological order of the stages or steps in the development of a theory, concept, process, etc.:

  • Will you detail examples of the use of positive and negative behaviors in workplace situations and some of their recent applications, hindrances and limitations?”

Excerpt: Comprehensive Questioning: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD


Seven Components of Critical Thinking

Leaders Need to Focus on Questions Rather Than Offering Answers

Seven Styles of Questioning That Sharpen Critical Thinking Skills

Correctly Framing Problems Pinpoints the Right Solution

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Effective Questioning in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Developing Critical Thinking Skills: The Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series

Effective Questioning Techniques: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

The Use and Application of Advanced Questioning: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Personal Behavioral Patterns Can Interrupt Contact Between Team Members

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Interaction or contact between individual team members creates a personal impact caused by varying personality differences, which in turn directly affects how teams function. Team members must make contact with each other for teams to develop effectively.

Some individuals tend to make immediate team contact without hesitation, through initiating or actively participating in conversations and discussions. Others tend to wait to make contact until invited into interactive encounters. This is a direct reflection of their individual personality styles and how they relate to others and their surroundings.

Each individual member has a complex series of relationships within a team. Most of these relationships are one-to-one with other team members. However, it should be noted that individual members also have a relationship with the team itself and with each subunit of the team.

It is essential for leaders to consider how their focus on team member relationships and willingness to work to make interactions more beneficial directly impacts their teams’ performance and results. The fact that individual personality styles can enhance or inhibit member relationships has ramifications for the team communication process and impacts members’ abilities to solve problems, arrive at consensus and make effective decisions. Therefore, it is important for leaders to pay attention to these characteristics and intercede when they occur to reestablish or maintain positive interaction.

Five personal behavior patterns can interrupt contact between team members. These patterns account for the various ways some team members tend to block or inhibit their relationships with others and create barriers to team effectiveness.

All of the five behaviors outlined below are interlinked and can be exhibited by all individuals, including leaders.

Projection and Mirroring

Projection interrupts contact by producing an overreaction to certain qualities displayed by other team members. Many times individuals who use projection are totally unaware that the team members who generally overreact possess the same behavioral tendencies.

Oftentimes mirroring is displayed when particular individuals accuse others of doing or saying something that reflects their own personal behaviors.

Both of these behaviors are so prominent with certain personalities that these individuals become hypersensitive in their responses and actions with others. Projection and mirroring effectively block contact since there is always an element of judgment involved in the interaction. This invariably places other team members into defensive postures that result in ongoing internal team conflict.


Introjection interrupts contact through a lack of thought discrimination on the part of certain individuals in accepting information, perspectives and ideas without question. Team members with a strong tendency toward introjection may work closely with other selective team members whose superior experience is accepted and unchallenged, either through admiration or intimidation.

Team members who tend to introject generally lack the experience, seasoning and expertise to openly and confidently challenge new ideas, perceptions and concepts. Consequently, introjection is considered a part of their overall learning process.


Retroflection interrupts contact, as individuals exhibiting this behavior do for themselves as they would do for others or as they would like others to do for them. Feelings of personal guilt are a classic form of retroflection, where fault is personally accepted without outwardly criticizing others. Retroflection is also a superb form of personal defense. It is often displayed through the avoidance of conflict, which creates a “dead area” in team relationships. Because of retroflection, certain concerned team members often find themselves becoming depressed or deflated.


Confluence interrupts contact through a team member’s strong reluctance or inability to reflect inwardly. Outward contact is considered necessary and a top priority for individuals who display this behavioral trait. These members are strongly team-oriented and will often refuse to disband their teams when assignments are completed. Or, these individuals will tend to remain in contact with specific team members long after their teams have been dismantled and their projects disbanded. Additionally, team members who exhibit confluence tend to possess the inability to adequately pace themselves in their tasks and assignments.


Deflection is an instinctive avoidance of contact. It is often displayed through the refusal to share personal feelings, perceptions or feedback. It is also identified in interruptive attempts to change subjects, generalize discussions, or tell stories rather than to focus on tasks. Some individuals often use deflection as a way to avoid emotional contact with other team members.

Excerpt: Personality Differences within the Team Setting: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD


Five Pitfalls Teams Need to Avoid

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Is Conflict Destructive to Your Organization?

The Challenge of Handling Conflict

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Boosting Team Communication:  Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series

Conflict Resolution: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Approach Problems in a Professional, Logical and Systematic Manner

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A critical element of business is building relationships that ultimately result in partnerships. As all relationships have problems, the successful employee knows how to handle these issues efficiently and professionally in order to keep relationships productive. Constructive interaction resolves problems to everyone’s satisfaction, which builds good will and trust. The resulting solid relationships can provide the companies with the elusive edge in highly competitive markets.

Many employees are placed on the defensive when faced with a problem. Rather than diagnosing a problem logically, they react emotionally.

There are several types of problems that confront employees, many of which stem from deficiencies in the performance of a product or service. Customers can also create fictitious problems in an effort to gain an advantage in their business relationships. Additionally, there are perceived problems: situations where nothing is actually amiss, but for one reason or another the customer perceives a problem. While any issue—internal or external, real or perceived—can be trying, in all cases the employee must maintain his or her composure and approach the problem in a professional, logical and systematic manner.

People realize that in an imperfect world they will encounter problems. However, it is not the situation itself that tends to cause difficulties, but how the employee reacts to it. Surveys have indicated that a rapid, helpful response and resolution to an issue can strongly bind a customer to the company and employees to each other, whereas a sloppy and slow response can result not only in losing valued employees and customers, but also in turning them into activists that will do anything to undermine the business.

The next time managers are faced with a problem, they can follow the systematic approach outlined below, bearing in mind that speed is indispensable to problem solving.

Identify the Problem

Employees and customers will no doubt bring problems to light without being prompted. The identification of an issue allows the manager to begin a diagnosis and gauge the potential impact of the situation. This step affords the opportunity to establish the importance of the situation and determine how fast to respond.

Define Parameters

Once the issue is identified, it is up to the manager to distinguish the real cause of the problem. Many complaints are either symptomatic of a larger problem or point to other unresolved departmental issues; still others are wholly unrelated to the company’s product or service. The manager will need to define the problem by probing and asking pertinent questions in order to discover needs, expectations and the ultimate reasons behind the problem.

Qualify the Problem

When qualifying, the manager is determining where responsibility for the problem lies. Often when an employee or customer voices a complaint, they place the blame on parties that have little or no responsibility for the problem.

In terms of accounts, a flooring retailer, recounting the instance of a customer coming into his store and vocally complaining about the carpet she bought and its installation, disclosed that upon further examination it was found the customer had purchased the carpeting from a cut-rate competitor and had it installed by an incompetent handyman. She wasn’t a customer, but felt compelled to tell someone, and the only one available was this retailer. It wasn’t his problem, but he was able to turn this ugly situation into a new and happy account.

Quantify the Problem

When quantifying the problem, the manager is defining the size and scope of the situation and zeroing in on the ultimate impact the issue will have on the business. For example, a small order of a critical product can literally shut down a production line. It is up to the manager to identify the extent of the problem and the resulting impact on their employees’ and/or customers’ situation. All too often employees minimize what appears to be a small problem, but in fact has a significant impact. Managers must be careful when dealing with such issues, as how they are handled can ultimately determine future outcomes.

Examine the Problem

During the examining phase, the manager is identifying the source and potential causes of the problem. Decision makers need to examine what has happened, why, and who is responsible for the problem. The process should not be a fault-finding expedition, but a search for the genuine causes of the problem.

In terms of customers, examination includes identifying whether issues such as late delivery, a manufacturing defect, faulty materials or a lack of education caused the problem. The goal is to determine where the ultimate problem lies as well as examine the options that are available to resolve the immediate problem.


Once causes have been identified, the problem can be solved to all parties’ satisfaction. Managers who attempt to minimize difficulties at this critical juncture are only hurting themselves. A successful company will do anything to correct a problem, whether internal or external, in a satisfactory and timely manner. Any extra expense will be readily recouped in future productivity and business; failure to follow through with an adequate resolution will build considerable barriers to productivity. The time and money required to thoroughly address a problem are minimal when compared to the productivity gains and repeat business represented by happy employees and customers.

Report Findings

Findings should be reported to senior management so that the cause of the problem can be remedied and a record made in order to avoid its recurrence. The manager’s findings should not spark recriminations, but positive changes within the company that will prevent this type of situation from arising again. These adaptations should allow the company to grow, prosper and thrive while making the manager’s job easier.

No one wants to have to continually solve the same problem with different employees or accounts, as this ultimately undermines the manager’s credibility and the reputation of the company.


Six Critical Issues To Consider When Solving Problems

Correctly Framing Problems Pinpoints the Right Solution

Encourage Questions to Improve Open Communication

Decision-Making Begins When an Action Needs to Be Taken

Excerpt: Problem Solving: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

February 13, 2013 at 10:50 am

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