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‘Bust the trust’ with misaligned action 

 November 6, 2016

By  Debbie Nicol

‘Bust the trust’ with misaligned action

As a leader it’s so important to build credibility, ensuring what you say is also what you do. When words and actions align, high-level and lasting trust is a natural bi-product. Why do some leaders neither understand this, nor see opportunity in it?

Leaders are always under the microscopic eye of their employees, who eagerly and perhaps unconsciously watch for any ‘misdemeanor’, any sign of what is being said is really not what the leader thinks, feels or believes. Just as we switch the TV off when the audio and visual elements are out of alignment, so too do employees switch off their interest in trust and engagement once incongruence or misalignment are consistently evident.

Obvious examples include visible actions throughout the everyday business agenda. If statements are made that people are our most important asset, and then people’s feedback or questions are not entertained, it’s clear that words are simple background noise and static.

The less obvious examples however present such great opportunity for leaders! Take the messages that your public image is sending out into the external environment. Recently experienced:

  • A newly-establish company wishing to raise public interest in their first ever corporate sponsorship opportunities empowered a trainee to issue the invitation. Not only did the trainee send this official documentation via her own gmail account but also managed to misspell the company URL, suggesting that no website existed at all.
    • ‘What matters most’
      Corporate sponsorship built on trust
    • The message the action sent
      Potential sponsors are not worth the leader’s personal time or input
  • Recently stopped at a traffic signal next to a bus, I couldn’t help but look in wonder at the sun-parched, faded and peeling sticker that covered the complete side of the bus. It was as cracked as desert ponds after two years of a drought and a disgrace to see. Yet beyond the cracks there was a description of the company services; construction and facades!
    • ‘What matters most’
      A solid reputation for high-quality facades
    • The message sent by not replacing the advertising collateral on the side of the bus
      Our facades do not warrant your attention

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Never forget, credibility is judged 24 / 7, by those inside as well as those outside of your organization, from everything a leader says and does. For credibility to thrive, static must be diminished and wherever possible, the message of what matters most must exude from not only every pore of the leader yet every part of the operation. Where in your schedule, language, actions, dress, priorities, behaviors may there be room for improved alignment?

Debbie Nicol


Debbie is tenacious, resilient, can break complexity and ambiguity into concrete simplicity, eats the stage, loves to challenge, Author.
Debbie is a Change Practitioner, Facilitator, Conceptualizer, Design Capability, Asks the right questions, Builds Customized Solutions, Life's Mirror

Debbie Nicol

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