How to Build Trust with Those You Lead

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | How to Build Trust with Those You LeadAs the author of Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success and as a nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, I share my views on the traits of effective leaders. These views are based on over four decades of serving in the trenches advancing through 11 jobs to the position of CEO of a global company, and observing other leaders serving on numerous public, private, private equity and nonprofit boards.

I also have a window on the workplace issues that are on people’s minds. I post every article I write on LinkedIn. The articles that get the highest number of views are on the lack of trust between bosses and their direct reports.

Stephen Covey, the late motivational speaker, writer, and advisor, once wrote, “Without trust we don’t truly collaborate; we merely coordinate or, at best, cooperate. It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team.”

The CEO’s tone at the top and the culture they nurture determines the level of trust in the organization. So, how does one earn the trust of others?

Always lead with the highest standards of ethics and integrity

There should be no misunderstanding as to the tone and culture that you embrace. These reflect the values to which you hold yourself and your employees accountable. Employees want to be part of an organization with high ethical standards and work for a leader that lives by those standards.

Never lead through fear and intimidation

I once worked for a tyrant. His style took a huge toll on the morale of his people. I was promoted to be his peer and then promoted to be his boss. I then fired him. After appointing a very effective leader to replace him, it took months before the employees of that division started to make decisions on their own again.

Acknowledge the brutal facts of reality

Never shoot the messenger. You can’t solve a problem unless you know what it is. You want your people to feel comfortable when sharing bad news with you and confident that you will listen to them. Most problems can be solved if addressed as soon as they are known. They may become unsolvable if left unaddressed for too long.

Be consistent and readable by those you lead

As the leader, ensure your style is consistent and that your expectations are understood. Situations will arise when decisions need to be made by your employees for which there is no operating procedure or precedent. Employees will fall back on their common sense and good critical judgment, and proceed in a way consistent with your expectations, tone, and culture.

Don’t micromanage

Steve Jobs, the former chairman and CEO of Apple once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Ensure your expectations are understood, negotiate goals, provide the needed resources and cut your people loose to do their thing.

Never publicly undermine your direct reports

Never criticize the people within your organization in public. It damages their ability to do their jobs. It only depowers them and makes them less effective. They lose credibility with those they will need to deal with in the future. Good employees won’t tolerate your behavior. They will leave the company and perhaps go to work for your competitor.

Don’t retaliate against those who follow their conscience and do the right thing

Retaliation shows you lack character. You may need those who you retaliate against in the future. What goes around comes around.

Organizations in which employees trust their leaders perform at a significantly higher level than those in which trust is lacking. Be sure you engender trust with those you lead.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Stan SilvermanStan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success. He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. For more information please visit

Do You Have What It Takes to Hack It as a Female Founder?

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship ArticleWomen’s curiosity and interest in entrepreneurship is at an all-time high. Getty Images has seen a fourfold increase in searches for “woman entrepreneur” photos in the last year alone. With the popularity of television shows such as Shark Tank and The Profit, more and more women are wondering if they have what it takes to be a female founder.

It takes more than having a good idea to be a successful entrepreneur. While there are a vast range of personalities, educations, and backgrounds among female founders, there are a few personality traits that are paramount to hacking it as a woman entrepreneur.

Passion is one such trait. To be a female founder, you must be passionate about the product or service you have devised to solve a problem. Authentic passion is what helps women find the best employees, sell their customers, and sell potential investors. If you don’t believe in yourself and your idea, no one else will, no matter how good it is.

Having enough grit and self-motivation to overcome setbacks and disprove early nay-sayers is another important characteristic of successful women entrepreneurs. The women who use negative statements as fuel for success instead of self-doubt are the ones who build ideas into thriving companies. Entrepreneurship is a high-contact emotional sport. If you get knocked down or denied seven times, you need to stand up eight times and keep pushing to make your dream a reality.

Long-term vision is needed for women to make the leap into entrepreneurship. Our tendency to be risk adverse serves us well after we launch a company, but that same tendency can having us making lists of reasons why we shouldn’t launch our own businesses. Female founders typically have the ability to see the big picture and justify the risks and challenges that come with startups because they know they will be successful.

If you have an amazing idea as well as the traits outlined in this article, you have what it takes to hack it as a female founder. Take the time to validate your idea and market, map your business plan, and prepare for the ride of your life!

About the Author

Danielle Tate is the author of Elegant Entrepreneur and founder and CEO of, a multimillion dollar online name-change company. As a female founder in her 20s she noticed that few business guides offered step-by-step advice to smart but inexperienced entrepreneurial woman.

How to Transform Your Management Style

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Management Style|How to Transform Your Management StyleIn terms of business management, there are so many different types of management style to choose from, and the type of business you run, what motivates your workers, and what you want to achieve as a business can dictate the best approach. Some management styles are inherently less productive than others, and the trick is to adopt a leadership strategy that promotes productivity and wellbeing within your organization. If your current style isn’t working then there are a variety of strategies that can help you to transition from one management style to another; in this article we’ll take a look at how to go about transforming your own management style without disrupting your everyday business or affecting your staff.

Establishing your style

Leaderships styles can vary from the dictatorial to a more hands-off approach. Each style can affect the wellbeing of your staff, and will hopefully increase productivity. However, productivity can also decrease if the right style isn’t adopted for a particular environment. Let’s take a look at a few well-recognized management styles and see how they can affect the workplace. You may recognize your own style, or perhaps draw inspiration to move to a type of management that might boost your team and increase profitability.


Amongst the more Dickensian management styles, the autocratic leader tends to lack empathy for his team, communicates poorly, and isn’t good at collaborative working. An autocrat (also referred to as an authoritarian) can leave their staff feeling undervalued and you can expect to be organizing leaving parties with increasing frequency.


Just like working for your dad (this is not always bad, of course), being under the control of a paternalistic manager can have a similar effect to that of an autocratic boss; although, like parents, they tend to have a more empathetic approach when demanding that tasks are done their way.


Like the name suggests, under the rule of a democratic boss, you can expect the whole team to get a say in the decision-making process, which is, of course, great, as people tend to feel more included, valued, and engaged when their voice counts. This can lead to better overall communication and a happier workforce. In a democratic office it’s good to have a wise chairperson, however, as a lack of experience can mitigate this extra level of responsibility for outcomes.


You need to be careful with this one, as it can be seen as a little lazy to let the team take over all the decision-making, and without a strong captain at the helm to imbue a little experience into proceedings, problems can easily occur. If you go down this route it may be worth investing in some corporate training courses to up-skill your key team members.

Servant Leadership

Google are known for being good at this style of leadership; removing the focus on the needs of the business and reassigning it to the needs of the workforce. The idea is that a happy team will naturally be more productive. This style of leadership requires a hiring process that can find the kind of staff that are likely to respond best to this sort of working environment.

Changing it up

Moving from one style of management to another needs a stoic attitude, a determined and brave approach, and preferably a collaborative strategy. It might be a change in leadership style but the consequences affect the entire organization and the employees, so they should be kept in the loop and consulted throughout the process in order to get useful feedback and check that they are adapting to the plan.

Think hard about making a change for the better as it can be disruptive, but make sure it’s an egoless process, and everything should go to plan.

Every Business Faces An Existential Leadership Crisis

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|Every Business Faces An Existential Leadership CrisisStop for a second. Think about the last time you saw a CEO do an interview. When was the last time you saw a business out in the open, showing off it’s latest and greatest talent? When was the last time you saw a business that showcased its raw young talent at a business exhibition or conference? Most likely, not a whole lot. The general public doesn’t often get to see the young people that a business is hiring. They may not have earned the right to be represented the business out in public. The company may not even care about its image in that way. It’s clear that most businesses have a tough time passing the torch to the next generation and doing so in an open and honest way. But that also means, most businesses are facing an existential leadership threat. If your business cannot be gifted to the next generation, it won’t survive more than one lifetime. How can you stop this from happening?

Internal culture protection

The reason why Apple didn’t collapse when Steve Jobs passed away, is because they had an internal business culture that groomed the next in line. Tim Cook took over and approached the challenges of the business to be innovative and build on the Apple ecosystem, just like Jobs would have wanted. This did not happen by mistake. Cook was able to approach the future in a similar way because the entire business, protected its internal culture. It’s the way you want employees to think about their roles, their tasks, designs, marketing, social media, etc. A culture encapsulates everything about you. So one way to make sure your business has a future is by protecting your culture and helping the best employees to understand it on a deeper level.

A skills transition

Becoming a leader isn’t for everybody. In fact, it’s true that most people just don’t fit the profile. But how do you know who does and who doesn’t? Putting your employees through leadership training is the best way to find out. They will learn a plethora of skills including, knowing what employee strengths are and getting the best out of them. Effectively influencing employees to make them channel their abilities better when it comes to tasks and roles in group projects. Being able to effectively lead meetings of staff, talking to people both personally and professionally. Navigating conflict and having the skills to resolve problems when they arise. Managing your time as the leader among other things will be taught to your chosen prospective employees.

Choose high potential employees

Every successful leader has some level of intuition. They can just spot someone out of a crowd and see they have more potential than the rest. If you see an employee you believe could be a leader, then look past their role and their rank. If it’s someone on a lower level in your business, then give them a chance to prove themselves. You never know when your diamond in the rough might appear.

For businesses wanting to carry on their excellence from generation to generation, it’s vital you protect your company culture internally.

5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from A Billionaire Investor: Ray Dalio

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | 5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from A Billionaire Investor: Ray DalioThe name of hedge fund billionaire Raymond Dalio triggers emotions of adoration, admiration, and even dislike. That’s the effect success has on people. You do not climb your way up without meeting people who have mixed feelings about you. This should not deter you, and if anything, it should motivate you to be a better version of yourself.

The success, and sometimes, failures of Dalio has made him an inspiration to many. He is on record for saying we make millions of decisions during the course of our lifetime. These decisions, or the logic behind them, determine the quality of lives we lead. While many of us are afraid of failure, Dalio fears mediocrity and boredom.

These are the hallmarks of a true leader, be it in business or politics.

Born in 1949, the American investor, philanthropist, and hedge fund manager is the founder, Co-Chief Investment Officer, and Co-Chairman of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s leading hedge funds with a more than $130 billion in assets under management.

With a net worth of $18.7 billion, Dalio started investing at the age of 12 and his life has revolved around finance. There is no doubt that he has lot to teach people and you can learn to be a better leader by imitating how he has managed the investment firm he launched from his apartment in 1975, around the same time that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs founded their tech companies.

Here are five leadership lessons that you can learn from Dalio.

1. Hire people who are better than you

The self-made billionaire is a firm believer in the importance of the people you hire for your business. After many decades of hiring, grooming, and firing people, Dalio says one of the best decisions you can ever make as a business leader is hiring someone who is better than you.

The key to this is the ability to recognize talented employees who bring a particular skill set on the table. This means that if you have people on your team that can perform a certain task better than you, it takes away the need to micromanage them.

This has two advantages. It gives you much time and room to focus on the bigger picture of managing your business. You can spend more time growing the business instead of fulfilling tasks that can otherwise be done by your employees. Secondly, employees are more productive when they are left to their jobs with little to no micro-management.

Real leaders know how to choose the members of their team.

2. No harm in making mistakes

Mistakes are a part of life and there should be no shame in making them once in a while. However, Dalio points out that not correcting them is a big mistake. You have probably heard making the same twice is a choice because you have an opportunity to correct it.

A mistake needs to be identified, analyzed, and lessons learned to prevent the same thing from happening again in the future. A common issue that many organizations face is the lack of courage to personalize mistakes, but more often, generalize them.

At one time in the early 1990s, Ross Waller, the head of trading at the time forgot to place a trade and cost the company some money. Dalio did not fire Waller but instead created a management tool to deal with mistakes and errors.

Dalio learned from the experience that people deserve second chances. He also capitalized on the mistake to develop new methods that can be used to achieve desired goals.

3. Be open-minded

Open-mindedness is one of Dalio’s important lesson yet the hardest. Being open-minded goes hand-in-hand with the ability to evolve fast and learn new things quickly. Some of the techniques that go a long way in helping you to be open-minded are:

  • Feedback – try to get as much feedback as you can especially from other successful people that are not in your immediate circle of mentors.
  • Spend around 90 percent of your time on what you don’t know and the remainder putting what you know to good use.
  • Be an avid reader and on the lookout for new ideas.
  • Listen to people who don’t disagree with you.

4. Taking risks with humility

Dalio became popular in the early 1980s when he pointed out that American banks were overloading Latin American countries with debt. He was proved right when Mexico’s president announced that his country was not able to repay its debt amounting to $80 billion.

He became the go-to person on financial issues. Analysts and the U.S. Congress sought his advice on what would happen next. He predicted that the American economy was headed towards a downturn.

It didn’t happen. In fact, the opposite happened. Stocks went up and the U.S. economy was in a bull market. Dalio was wrong and lost money for his clients. He had to borrow money from his father to pay the bills.

After recovering, he realized that he was not going to stop taking risks, but was going to do so with humility and a changed mindset. He became more open-minded and diversified his portfolio. He has tried to maintain a perfect balance between what he knows and doesn’t.

5. Don’t build walls in your company

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is personalizing their departments so much that the employees are isolated from each other.

Dalio suggests that employees should be allowed to mingle as much as they can in order to share knowledge and motivate each other to perform their jobs better. Having no walls allows team members to bond and increase productivity when they work together on projects.

This does not literally mean that companies have to break down walls and have an open office space. It’s all about encouraging communication amongst employees and possibly having an open-door policy where employees can feel comfortable approaching each other with their problems.


One of the traits of intelligent people is learning from the experiences of others. Whether it’s value investing in Singapore or learning a new language, it makes sense to learn from those that have traveled the journey before you.

The investment world is filled with successful figures such as Dalio, Warren Buffett, George Soros, and more. They have made a few mistakes along the way. We should learn from them. These great leaders also teach us what it takes to be a great leader. There is no shame in copying what is right and noble.