The one thing that destroys leadership, that you have probably already done

About 15 years ago, I worked for a company that decided to reduce the number of managers within the company structure.

So all of my colleagues and I had to be re-interviewed and assessed for our jobs…. needless to say this revealed an ugly side to pretty much all of us. We were all fiercely out for ourselves, with very little care or thought to the other people around us. The bonds of team work disappeared during this process and it was heartbreaking to be a part of.

When it was all over I thought things would go back to normal – but it didn’t. For the people who remained the fear lived on. Nobody felt safe ever again.

This is an extreme example, but it has a point…. THREATS WILL KILL PERFORMANCE.

As soon as our jobs were at risk, our instant reaction was to go into self preservation mode and defend ourselves.

How good do you think customer service was? How about training and development? How about sharing of best practice?

Absolute Zero – because we were under threat.

Potentially losing your job is an obvious threat, but there are other, more subtle, but just as damaging threats we use in day to day management.

Maybe you have used some of these?

What do your team think will happen to them if they don’t reach the sales target?

Or ensure costs are within budget?

What do your team think will happen if they get audited?

Or if a customer complaint comes in?

Have you as a leader made sure that all of these would be seen as growth opportunities or does your team feel threatened by them?

Because if they do – then YOU are eroding your teams performance level.

Threats reduce the circle of trust – and people who do not feel safe, who do not feel trusted… WILL NOT ACT IN THE INTERESTS OF THE TEAM AND WILL NOT PERFORM TO THIER POTENTIAL.

Any threat will have this effect… the smaller the threat… the smaller and more gradual the reaction.

If this sounds like something you may have done in your leadership role, then here are some ideas that will help restore the circle of trust with your team.


32995-sorry-apology-apologize-apologies.1200w.tnI realise this is will not be popular advice – particularly for those in leadership roles.

The idea of a leader admitting they got something wrong, means they would have to show vulnerability – which, if we are honest, most of us just don’t want to do.

Even in today’s enlightened world, where the benefits of authentic leadership have been scientifically proven… It is still incredibly rare to find a leader who is brave enough to show genuine vulnerability.

However, if you want your team to feel trusted, to feel safe and to work at their potential, with the success of the group at heart – Then you will have to apologise if you have threatened them. It is the only way to open the gate of the circle of trust again.

Think of it from a follower’s perspective – What is more motivating? A leader who lets past threats hang over their team OR a leader who correctly identifies poor behaviour, apologises for it and looks to find a better way forward.

I know which leader I would prefer to work for.


The reason leaders threaten is obvious – they want to improve performance and a sense of urgency in their teams. It is not that they are bad leaders who want to cause pain and suffering to all those who work for them. No – most of them just want to generate better results.

And in the short term, this can work. But it will NEVER last – It can’t. When people don’t feel safe and only look after their self interest, it is impossible for a team like this to be high performers for any length of time.

What is needed is a positive re-frame: transform from threatening tactics that extrinsically motivate… to high performance environments that intrinsically motivate. A leader will need to identify and then implement the best possible environment for their team to perform at the highest level possible, over the short-term AND long-term.

Demonstrate you have their back

I Got Your BackActions speak louder than words

The leader who encourages creativity… the leader who will ensures their team is safe… the leader who will take accountability when times are tough and give credit when the good times roll in…

Is the leader who has a team that would shed blood, sweat and tears for them

Putting it all together

We live in a high stress world, where nothing ever seems to be good enough. As a leader, if you allow your team to feel they are never good enough or threatened in any way, you are destroying the potential performance level of your team.

When your team don’t feel safe, they will not be creative, they will not be collaborative, they will not have each others’ backs, they will not perform well.

There is another way – Build a circle of trust with your team. Create an environment where they can be at their very best… That is after all…. a leader’s job.

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How to believe in people again

Almost everyone has, at some point, been hurt, rejected, dismissed and treated badly. When this happens many of us then find it hard to believe and trust in people again.

If you have ever felt like this, then here are 4 strategies that will allow you to stay positive and get the best out of all of your relationships... Even if it seems as though you are surrounded by people who have hurt you, let you down or broken your heart.

Trust is a biological need

The science is clear… Trust and connection are critical factors in human existence. This is not my opinion, this is proven scientific fact. We are literally biologically forced to connect with others, because we are stronger together.

If you allow a few people to make you lose faith in that, then you are only hurting yourself.

Branding the entire human race as cruel and nasty because of a few people is ridiculous. Think about it… there are 7 billion people on this planet – all of which have a biological need to connect with others. Don’t let a couple of idiots ruin your perception of how many great people there are in the world.

Acknowledge people are just like you

everyoneWe only ever get to see our perspective of life and it is easy to think we are alone in our struggle. The truth is everyone struggles.

Some find it hard just to get through the day, others are frustrated because they can’t chase their dreams, many are worried about how they can support their families, scared of what others think about them. The lists are endless, but the ultimate truth is that everybody is struggling somehow.

It is so important that you understand this. If you ever get to a place where you think your situation is so special and unique that nobody can ever understand you – You are in a bad place and, more importantly, you are wrong. You have more in common with others than you realise.

By saying that nobody could ever understand you, all you are doing is freezing yourself out of relationships.

If you freeze yourself out, then nobody will understand you because you won’t let them, NOT because they can’t. That is your doing… not theirs.

Stop building walls

Once you have been hurt, it is tempting to create emotional barriers and walls to stop you getting hurt again.

Been hurt in love? Create barriers that make it difficult for you to fall in love again… so in theory, you won’t get hurt again.

Hopefully you can see the problem with this tactic. Barriers and walls stop you feeling positive and wonderful emotions. Emotions you need and desire.

Barriers and walls keep the bad guys out, but they also fend off the good guys too.

Walls solve nothing, they just deny you what you want most and they also hurt other people… good people.

The brave thing to do is to brake down your walls and allow yourself to live. I can’t promise you that you will never get hurt again, but by allowing those positive emotions in, it does mean you will experience 10x the love, joy, happiness and trust than you would if you lock everything out.

Most people have walls… break down yours, break down theirs… with love, with joy, with trust and your life will become abundant.

Birds of a feather

141159769539890017_cyh5thwj_cThis last strategy is so simple, but also the most effective – Remove negative people from your life and increase the amount of positive people.

Positive people are supportive, caring and helpful… There are billions of these types of people across the world, literally billions!

They will help you grow, develop and become the best version of you, so seek them out.

Yes there are mean people in the world, but they are not the majority… You don’t have to have them in your life. It is a choice, make one that improves the quality of your life.

Putting it all together

There are mean people and when you get hurt, it is tempting to turn your back on the world and lose trust in people.

Don’t, mean people are in the minority.

You have a biological need to connect with others – If you deny yourself this, you are only hurting yourself.

You are not the only person who is struggling. Understanding this truth will allow you to have more empathy for those around you.

Stop building walls – You deny yourself the emotions you most desire when you create barriers – don’t deny yourself love, joy, happiness and trust.

Choose to build relationships with positive people. There are loads of them out there!

What to do when you have been let down by someone you trust

I have recently been badly let down…

The person in question was in a situation which was difficult for her, she was highly stressed and appeared to be making herself ill.

So I listened, I supported, I trusted, I guided. I even went above the call of duty and threw myself in the firing line for her.

My action worked – her stressful situation dissipated and, in the moments when I took the heat away, she turned on me – blaming me for it all and informing everyone that would listen, that she was faultless. She quickly distanced myself from her and then she attempted to muscle in on the good work I created for her company!

How would you respond if this was you?

The probability is you will have experienced a similar situation like this in your life. Where someone you trust, fails to reciprocate that trust and lets you down.  When this happens it is understandable that your response would be emotional and negative.

The unfortunate truth is that responding this way rarely helps anyone. Especially you.

The reaction that will serve you best will help you move on and be able to trust again quickly and wholeheartedly. Here is how:


“Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.”

Desmond Tutu

Holding resentment inside only hurts one person – you. The last person who needs to be hurt by you is you, so you have to rid yourself of resentment.

Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die. The poison will do nothing to your enemy, but will kill you!

Forgiveness can seem hard… Why should you forgive someone who has hurt you? The reason you should is because forgiveness isn’t just about the antagonist, it’s about allowing yourself to stop hurting… and you deserve that.

Be your best self

20141223140914-give-gift-your-presenceSometimes when we feel we have been let down it is easy to close ourselves off to the world.

Who is this behaviour serving? Nobody, that’s who.

The past is the past. It cannot be changed, you can only learn from it. The one thing that is an absolute certainty in life is that if you want the future to be brighter, you have to bring your best self to the game.

Be bigger, be better and be bolder… be your best self and you will bring the best out of the present and the future.

Expect the best in others

Just because one person has let you down, it doesn’t mean the world is full of evil, untrustworthy people. 99.9% of people have the desire to be nice, kind and helpful individuals. Don’t close down your opportunities to connect deeply with others, just because one person has broken your trust.

If you expect the best from others, your behaviours will adapt accordingly and you will engage with the world in a positive fashion… and guess what? Engaging positively with those around you will, 99.9% of the time, result in positive outcomes!

Surround yourself with positive people

When-you-surround-yourself-with-positive-loving-peopleIt is said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. So who do you want to be and who do you want to be surrounded by?

This is a choice – seek out the people who have aspirations and goals like you. The people you admire. The people you can trust.

Don’t get sucked in by people who are self obsessed, negative or selfish… It will drain you. Instead look up at those people who soar… and choose to fly with them.

Putting it all together

The bottom line is that some people will hurt you – NEVER let that stop you being the wonderful and authentic person you are.

Be the best version of you!