Wednesday’s Smart Shibboleth #5: A Trust and Credibility Shibboleth for Leaders and Organizations

When it comes to credibility and trust, the fundamentally trustable behavior of organizations is reflected in its leadership’s behavior and leadership’s commitment to trustable decisions and actions. 

Management’s Credibility Mantra: Credibility is Conferred On Us Based On Our Past Behaviors. 

These six actionable tasks or assignments, if executed by everyone in the organization, especially by leadership example, will foster trust and credibility, as well as demonstrate extraordinary integrity. 

  1. “When problems occur, we’ll be prepared to talk openly about them and act quickly to respond to them operationally.” 
  1. “If the public should know about an issue or problem which could affect them, we will voluntarily talk about it as quickly and as completely as we can.” 
  1. “When the problems or changes occur, we will keep the community posted on a schedule they set until the problem or changes have been thoroughly explained or resolved.” 
  1. We will answer any questions the community may have and suggest and volunteer additional information on matters the community has yet to ask questions about.” 
  1. “We will be cooperative with the news media, but our primary responsibility is to communicate directly with those most directly affected by our actions as soon as possible.” 
  1. “We will respect and seek to work with those who oppose us.” 

James E. Lukaszewski
Americas Crisis Guru®

ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus (2015) 

*Shibboleth, Jim’s Definition: practical information you can use today and tomorrow, and lasts a long time. 
Mainstreet Village, 7601 Lyndale Ave S, STE 32, Richfield MN 

Wednesday Smart Shibboleth #4: Destructive Language Decimates Trust

Leadership language choices in difficult situations are often early indicators of the dysfunctional nature of leadership. In fact, their behaviors and language choices are often diagnostic of this dysfunction. Here are some examples to watch for:

  1. Denial
  2. Defensiveness
  3. Deflection
  4. Denigration
  5. Disrespect
  6. Demeaning
  7. Discrediting
  8. Disdain

Not only do these behaviors, attitudes, and language choices destroy trust, they create victims, critics, and angry people, families, and organizations.

These negative examples waste time, often trigger similar even more emotionally negative responses in return, foster contentiousness, confrontation, contempt, confusion, and consternation. These behavior choices are likely to require strong, positive, remedial behaviors.

Watch for the Shibboleth on reputation and trust recovery following a crisis.

James E. Lukaszewski

Americas Crisis Guru®
ABC, Fellow IABC; APR, Fellow PRSA; PRSA BEPS Emeritus 2015

Wednesday’s Smart Shibboleth #3: Manager of First Impressions – The Two-Minute Schmooze

Steve Harrison, one of three founders and Chairman of Lee Hecht Harrison, the world’s leading Talent management company, had just hired a new COO, Ray. He had an MBA and was recently retired from the US Army with the rank of brigadier general.

So he could get to know as many people as possible, Steve took Ray on a tour of the company. At their first branch office stop, Melissa, the receptionist, was on duty.

“How are you, Melissa?” Steve asked.

“Fine. And you, Steve?”

“Great. Have a good day.”

“You too.”

Steve proceeded toward the interior offices, but Ray pulled them back to Melissa’s desk.

After introducing himself, Ray launched a dialogue with Melissa. “How long have you been with us?” “How did you hear about us?” “What did you do before you joined our firm?” “What kind of dog is that in the picture?” “What do you think of this business we’re in together?” The collaborative language was infectious. It communicated that Ray and Melissa were in the enterprise as equal partners. Ray also asked Melissa if she had any questions. He waited, Melissa asked a couple, Ray answered them candidly. Melissa was clearly delighted with the exchange.

Finally Ray said, “Well, nice to meet you, Melissa. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’. I look forward to seeing you next time I’m here.”

With that, Ray and Steve went inside to meet the rest of the staff.

Steve asked Ray, “What was that all about?”

Ray said, “That’s called the two-minute schmooze! Receptionists meet or talk to more people critical to our company in one month than you or I ever do in a year: people at all levels, from all our branches everywhere, our customers, suppliers, colleagues, bosses, applicants, and job seekers. Most of all, receptionists talk to each other. They are a key part of our reputation.”

Ray’s two-minute schmooze is how Steve first learned the power of small decencies, its perfect example of decent leadership and the impact small decencies can have on organizations.

Sometime later Steve authorized LHH receptionists to have business cards with the job title: Manager of First Impressions.

Lee Hecht Harrison is now The LHH Division of Adecco, the world’s largest job placement agency, based in Switzerland. In 2021, Steve and Jim Lukaszewski coauthored the book “The Decency Code: The Leader’s Path to Civility, Integrity, and Trust”, © 2021 McGraw Hill. This story is on pages 46-48.

*Shibboleth, Jim’s Definition: practical information you can use today and tomorrow, and lasts a long time.

Wednesday Smart Shibboleth #2: The Ten Constructive Ethical Intentions of Public Relations

Getting a Handle on Ethical PR

1. Candor:

truth with an attitude, right now!

2. Openness:

the willingness to talk, listen, converse, teach, explain.

3. Truthfulness:

unconditional honesty from the start.

4. Apology:

admission, explanation, lessons learned, forgiveness seeking, restitution, the moment they are needed.

5. Responsiveness:

answering every question, whatever the source; keep answering and re-answering questions until the questions stop.

6. Preemptiveness:

provide the questions people should be asking with answers before they need to ask.

7. Empathy:

actions speak louder than words, let the deeds do the talking.

8. Transparency:

do only what you want your mother to know about.

9. Engagement:

the most powerful communication always takes place face-to-face. The greatest decency is careful, engaged listening.

10. Correct and Clarify:

It’s YOUR destiny. Explain, describe, clarify, and correct promptly, or someone else will, and you won’t like it.

*Shibboleth, Jim’s Definition: practical information you can use today and tomorrow, and lasts a long time.

Wednesday Smart Shibboleth #1: Bad News Ripens Badly

Even the slightest delay in exposing, disclosing, and explaining bad news always quickly morphs into unexplainable situations. You can argue and debate this. Many have tried. but the time consumed in your debate is seen as silly and unexplainable. In every situation where I have witnessed bad news delayed, denied, deferred, or dismissed, the actual bad news quickly no longer mattered.

The fatal career damage comes from the inability, reluctance and frankly naive arrogance of leaders failing to immediately, convincingly, explain with humility, why they waited so long to do something, say something, take at least minimally humane and empathetic action, assume at least some portion of responsibility while victims and damage accumulated.

I often describe these reputationally toxic behaviors as straight face test failures, laugh test failures, integrity failures. Stalling, delaying, denying and blame shifting will topple, dissolve, destroy even the most successful, visible, promising, and “locked in” senior level careers.

*Shibboleth, Jim’s Definition: practical information you can use today.