Building Trust

Do these every day and you’ll build strong trust

  1. Reliability – make commitments and follow through, show up on time.
  2. Credibility – bring value to the table, know what you’re supposed to know and do what you should do.
  3. Connection – build rapport and relationships. Learn something from them or about them every time you interact with them.
  4. Radical Candor – not honesty, which implies you know the truth already. See: 📚 Radical Candor

Set Direction

Forward-looking: Strategic Thinking

Requires thinking ahead to the future. Consider the organization as a whole, the environment, competitive threats, etc.

  1. Listen to interviews with CEOs and business leaders and pay close attention to how they talk about their choices and future plans.
  2. Read annual reports for studies in and out of my industry.
  3. Seek roles, projects, and relationships that expand my perspective.
  4. Ask lots of “what if” questions – government policies, trends, competition, etc.
  5. Interact consistently with strategic thinkers.

Decisiveness & Courage

  1. Make clear, justified choices and articulate why you made them.
  2. Collect diverse inputs.
  3. Challenge your assumptions
    1. Consider what data may be missing, specially if you have some data already that may be blinding you.
  4. Speak regularly with trusted advisors
  5. Don’t change too much too fast, it is disorienting.

Reframing: Past, Present, Future

  1. Past Framing: what should make us proud from our past?
    1. Evidence: what did we accomplish, overcame, or learn?
  2. Present: what are the most important challenges and opportunities?
  3. Future Framing: what are our inspiring ambition for the future?

Get in the habit of having good, succinct past, present and future framing statements.

Purpose and Vision

Critical to motivation to have a shared purpose to a compelling vision. It helps answer:

  1. Why does this organization exist?
  2. Why is what we’re doing worth my effort?
  3. Why will my work make a difference?

Purpose should make people proud to rally around it.

Create a Shared Purpose: Talk to people to find out what makes them proud to work here? What’s the larger reason that adds value to customers or society as a whole?

Create a Compelling Vision: Collect meaningful improvements for the future, add your own thoughts, distill to concise phrase.

Motivate Commitment

Manage your image

Thoughts: direct your thoughts to the top priority – it’s always about advancing a shared purpose for greater good. Focus on the group.

Feelings: focused determination to make progress on that priorities.

Actions: what you say and do, including tone of voice and body language. Look into what inspires confidence. Make sure your face shows what you want to convey – words then back up the image you already portray, but what you look like matters.

Energize and empower

You consistently need to energize and empower people, and you need to do BOTH.

  1. Give them something energizing. If your people were asked anonymously how engaged you are, they should almost always rate you a 10/10.
  2. Don’t just encourage, empower. Tell them you count on them to drive the results. Don’t control or micromanage. Give them power to make choices and stay accountable. Allow people to experiment.

Don’t try to win arguments, energize and empower.

Encourage personal excellence

Believe in people to be their best selves by encouraging individual excellence.

  1. Ask others what drives them.
  2. Identify and discuss their strengths.
  3. Reinforce their growth attempts.
  4. Encourage setting goals.

Create collaboration opportunities

Senior leaders obsess over getting people to work effectively together.

  1. Help out beyond your role.
  2. Reach out to peers for feedback on how you collaborate.
  3. Work on cross-functional initiatives.
  4. Communicate the importance of collaboration.
  5. Reward collaboration.
  6. Support ad hoc opportunities for collaboration.

Develop Others

You bet on people, not on strategies, so focus on developing people. Studies consistently find that people gravitate towards where they will develop most.

  1. Develop your people: Gallup shows that immediate manager has far more impact than anything else.
    1. Give them feedback on areas of strength and improvement.
    2. Encourage them to invite regular feedback.
    3. Challenge them to expand their perspective, business acumen, etc. Give them something with more complexity, etc.
    4. Help them find learning opportunities.
    5. Give them exposure to senior leaders.
  2. Apply this across the whole organization: systematic approach to assess leadership potential and performance, identify growth opportunities and provide growth opportunities in those areas.

This will lead to employee satisfaction, which in turns leads to retention, performance, productivity and profitability.

Communicate to motivate and inspire

CEOs quickly learn that everything you say matters the more senior you get. When you speak:

  1. Do no harm: make sure you don’t say things that will be damaging. Most CEOs are actually introverts, which helps as they think more before speaking. Choose what to say based on what will help people.
  2. Add inspiration to information. Given your role, you’re the spokesperson for “why” questions. Why should we care? Why does it matter?

Communicate to replicate

Make it easy for people to repeat and remember what you said. Don’t muddle things, keep things simple.

Say what matters most, memorably, and briefly.

  1. Understood by diverse audiences
  2. Accurate repetition

Check on key takeaways – at the end of a discussion, ask people to tell you what THEY think are the key takeaways to ensure people have the right priorities from the meeting.

“When you get back to your team, what are you going to say?”

Drive for Results


Steve Jobs asked in executive offsites “what are the 10 things we must do?” Then crossed out 4-10 and kept only 3.

Top 3 drives focus. Real progress is priority-based progress.

Top 3 leader: Top 3 priorities should be clear at all levels of the organization.

  1. Ask your direct reports
  2. Ask your teams
  3. Be clear for yourself
  4. Ask your manager

Learn to say “no”


Accountability is about progress on a shared goal, it should be invigorating.

Focus on results

  • Set milestones for projects, have check-ins.
  • If results fall short, handle that to

3 types of accountability meetings

  1. Tactical – weekly or biweekly
  2. Strategic – every 4-6 weeks
  3. Long-term planning – every 4-6 months, often offsite.

At the end of every meeting, clarify action progress – who’s doing what. Set expectations that people will report progress in the next meeting.

Influence without authority

Even if you have authority, don’t use it.

  1. Clarify your desired outcomes.
  2. Identify the influencers – key decision makers and their influencers.
  3. Learn what influences the influencers.
  4. Choose the best methods to influence the influencers.
  5. Invest in relationships.

Cultivate creativity

  1. Set the example – be impelled by curiosity. Successful executives tend to be very curious.
  2. Add creative elements to roles.
  3. Rewards success and failure.
  4. Make room for rebellion.
  5. Provide training on healthy brainstorming processes.
  6. Encourage other-focused innovation.
  7. Challenge teams

Leading change

  1. Explain why
  2. Communicate a motivating vision
  3. Formulate a change plan
    1. Identify roadblocks and change management needs.
    2. Prioritize action steps
    3. Empower a change team
  4. Implement and learn
  5. Celebrate the wins
  6. Record what you learn

Develop yourself


  1. What are your top 3 defining moments?
    1. What were they? What did you learn about yourself.
  2. What are your top skills, abilities, or characteristics?
    1. Distinguish your A Strengths from B Strengths, and your weaknesses.
    2. Invest in your strengths and relationship-build with those that complement your weaknesses.
  3. Reflect on situations that trigger…
    1. Fight (angry), Flight (submissive) or Freeze (paralyzed)
    2. Replace with purpose, determination, and adding value.


Psychology shows that individuals that interpret setbacks as permanent, pervasive and personal tend to have much more difficult than those that do the opposite, seeing setbacks as temporary

  1. Not permanent → temporary: I can make this work later.
  2. Not pervasive → specific: It’s this specific proposal, not everything.
  3. Not personal → external: It’s not about me, it’s about this proposal.

Well-being elements

  1. Mental wellness: set aside time to think, lock it into your schedule. 2-4 hours a week to think.
  2. Emotional wellness: choose experiences and people that raise your ratio of positive to negative emotions (3:1 or higher). This helps you become better.
  3. Physical wellness: nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress relief.
  4. Spiritual wellness: meaning and purpose outside of work.

In a survey of 4,000 retired executives, most common wants: care health better, spend more time on family, more time to community service, etc.

Start your day well with a routine that helps you set the tone for the day.


Learning agility: the ability to learn what to do when you don’t know what to do.

Executive learning cycle: Challenge → Learn → Apply → Challenge

  1. Challenge: take on opportunities that challenge you, also take on roles outside of your main job to learn new things.
  2. Learn from anyone
  3. Learn at multiple levels: keep learning beyond your current role. Trends in technology, the economy, etc.
  4. Learn from others’ failures.
  5. Set learning priorities. What is the most important thing you should learn next?

Relationships & Connections

Jeff Bezos asked ~300 connections to spread the word about Amazon and sold books in all 50 states in the US the first 30 days after launching Amazon. Investing in relationships helps you in the future.

Build and connect with people Senior, Junior, and Peer to you. Diverse.

  1. Senior connections: gain insights and wisdom from people who are more senior than you.
    1. Advisor board with 4+ people more senior than you that can help you.
  2. Junior connections: several “fat brains” connections (younger people have more fat in brain)
  3. Peer connections: people who push you in exchange on being pushed.

Connect with people who are unlike you.

Robin Roberts: Find and Build Allies by being authentic, help them, and find those that want to help you as well. Don’t fake it, just look for those who genuinely want to help you.