Value Talks Ep 11: What Every Leader Knows About Building Trust

Hosted by Travis Tasset, the Value Talks podcast explores a range of topics that matter to people, including healthcare, leadership, and culture. In this episode, Travis and I discuss what every authentic leader knows about building trust. 

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Transcript of Episode 11

Welcome to another episode of Value Talks with your host Travis Tasset. Travis Tasset: Welcome to this episode and edition of Value Talks. This is your host, Travis Tasset. I’m sitting down with Dan Tasset, visionary, entrepreneur, chairman, CEO, slash. Dan, we should probably call you slash with all the different hats that you wear. Welcome, Dan, to the show today. Dan Tasset: Thank you, Travis. I’m glad to be here again. Travis Tasset: I want to do a recap for some of our listeners. For those that have listened to previous podcasts, we’ve kind of talked about purpose and culture and values and some of the declarations we make as an organization. We had John Palumbo as a guest on a couple of podcasts and he talked about high performing culture and high performing organizations and the balanced scorecard approach. Do you want to give a quick review or anything? Dan Tasset: Yes, I’d be glad to, Travis. I’m really proud of the way that these podcasts have come together, I really appreciate the work that you’ve done. I think if people haven’t listened to all of them and have only recently started to join the podcast I would really ask them to go back and listen to all of them. They’re around 30 minutes each and it’s really about the timing of a nice walk or a jog or something, try to multitask and try to get a benefit of something not only physical but mental. There’s a lot of different ways to do that, a lot of drive time. We started out with purpose and vision mission and then we moved quickly into – as you said, John did a guest podcast on high performing organizations and then we’ve kind of continued to go down through innovation, so it’s been really good. Really good information, I’ve got a lot of positive feedback. I’d like to continue to ask our listeners that they would forward these to other people so that we can continue to expand and broaden our listening base, particularly inside of our own organization. If there are administrators or CEOs of different companies that we have an equity interest in, that you would engage them to see if we can’t get them to participate in listening to these podcasts. I think they’re really valuable, but to answer your question, one of the things that John talked about in the high performing organization is, the company needs to have a value system, values. It needs to have guiding principles and it also needs to have leadership tenets. When we talked about some of the companies that we own, NueHealth and some of those, the value system which we use now quite often on some of our closures of things that we do; we care, we learn, we have fun, we get results, some of our guiding principles. What I wanted to talk about today and I think you wanted to talk about, invited me again, was to talk about the leadership tenets that we have, in particular just a couple of those tenets. Travis Tasset: Which ones do you want to focus on today? Do you want to talk about trust? Dan Tasset: Yes, I thought we could just brainstorm a little bit about trust and what that looks like and we’ll probably get into, how do you keep trust if you have it and how do you gain it if you don’t have it. I think that’s a topic that we need to talk about, so thank you. Travis Tasset: How does trust tie in with some of the values that we’ve been speaking about? Like, “we care.” How does caring and trust – how do you see those tied together? Dan Tasset: It’s interesting because I don’t want to get too corny here or too personal, but I really see caring about somebody, about an employee, and loving that person as almost one and the same thing. That is a core value that we have: we care, we learn, we have fun, we get results, core value system of our organization. To me caring comes after trust and if you have trust and you’ve been able to maintain trust then that has to be built on truth. You build trust on truth and truth to me is the same thing as being authentic, being real. Truth is only present when integrity exists, so in kind of a strange way you can’t really care about people, you can’t really love people, you can’t really care about your employees and demonstrate that unless you’re on a solid foundation of integrity. If you take that same continuum, caring comes after trust but trust doesn’t exist, how do you create trust, how do you build trust? There’s a number of different ways to do that. You have to communicate, you have to over communicate. You have to be completely transparent about what’s going on inside your organization, what’s happening. How you do that is very specific and it’s very purposeful. From that transparency now you’re able to restore, build trust and that’s built again and continuing on truth and authenticity and being real, then you’re able to go back to care. That’s kind of how we tie our value system into leadership tenets of trust and transparency. Travis Tasset: You talked about integrity. A lot of people throw that word around and I’m sure different people have different meanings, but what does it mean for you to have integrity and how does that tie in to trust? Dan Tasset: As you said, there’s a lot of different definitions for it, but for me it all boils down to a couple of things. Integrity is who you are and what you do at the core when nobody’s around and nobody’s watching, nobody’s listening. How do you look at life? How do you look at yourself? How do you look at the world around you? You have to first have integrity with yourself. I don’t remember who said it, but the worst deception in the world is self-deception. So, you have to first have integrity with yourself, know who you are, what you do and speak truth to yourself and then you speak truth to everybody else. You’re real, you’re authentic, you’re down to the core of who you are. Integrity to me is just making sure, number one, you have integrity with yourself and you know who you are, you’re truthful with everybody around you. A complete, authentic person, that’s integrity. Travis Tasset: You talked also about being real and I think there is kind of this balance between wanting to be right and wanting to be real. What are your thoughts on that? Can we be too real sometimes? Dan Tasset: I believe you can be too transparent. I don’t think that, depending on the circumstance, you don’t share everything with everybody. If every personal item or personal little thing that you – yes, I think you can be – I don’t think you can be too real but you can say too much and you can be too personal, too transparent with people. We can talk more about what that means. Fundamentally over the last long time, 40 years I think that I’ve learned in business, is that people don’t follow a company. They do not follow an organization, they follow people, they follow another person. They’ll follow people that don’t need to be right all the time, they’ll follow people who are real way before they’ll follow somebody who’s perfect all the time and always right. I just believe that people love a leader who’s authentic and who says the bad with the good. I think truth motivates, truth calms. I don’t care if it’s bad news, if you tell it to your organization they’ll follow you through anything. We’ve had that happen in our organization. We’ve had some really bad things happen to me personally, to us as an organization but boy, you get in front of people and you’re authentic and you’re real and you’re truthful, it’s incredible how people will follow that type of a leader. I just encourage everybody who’s listening to the podcast and can be in a leadership position is it’s much more important to be real than it is to be right. Travis Tasset: We’ve said in a lot of our leadership training that we’ve done in our organizations that weak leaders want to be right and strong leaders want results. What do you want? Do you want results, or do you want to be right? That’s a choice that I think all of us have to make. How does this authenticity, this being real, this integrity play into giving coaching and giving feedback? What are your thoughts on that? Dan Tasset: There’s a lot around that. I love the idea of saying that I am absolutely ruthlessly honest but I’m wise about it. With that I think that if you start that being the basic premise for what you do then I think from that you can come along. If you think about that, I’m going to be honest but I’m going to be wise. That to me is wisdom that says, “When do I be truthful? When do I be transparent? When do I say things that need to be said? Who do I say it to? What’s the timing of it? How much do I say?” Honesty without wisdom I think could be a potential failure for disaster, so I think you have to be wise about what you do. Travis Tasset: Even research has shown that when someone expresses anger most people think it’s cathartic to say that and express it, but it actually makes you more angry through the expression of anger, so there’s certainly a time and a place for everything, but how does someone modulate that? How do they make the determination based on “how much do I share?” When do I share it? With whom do I share it? How does a leader kind of navigate and modulate that with themselves and with other people? Dan Tasset: Good question. So, the guiding premise for me is – there’s a couple up front. Number one, I don’t think you should ever coach, give feedback, apply criticism to anybody ever if it’s hurtful. It should always be meant to build up. A lot of people use the term “constructive criticism.” I don’t care what you call it, but if you’re going to do something say something and it doesn’t ultimately build someone up then you should not say it, period, end of discussion. That’s my rule number one. Rule number two for me is, is that I don’t coach anybody, give criticism to anybody unless I’m asked for it. I just don’t think it’s something that you should do unless they are an employee that reports to you or your children who are reliant on you for boundaries and guidance, then that’s a different story, but just somebody who’s a peer, somebody who’s a friend and they don’t ask for feedback, criticism, I just think you’ve got to be really careful about that. That’s probably a couple guiding principles right out of the gate. Can’t be hurtful, it’s got to build up and you have to be requested unless of course they report to you. Travis Tasset: I sometimes call that unsolicited advice and I think it’s one of the top errors that I think I see a lot of leaders make is giving that advice when it hasn’t been, or that feedback when it hasn’t been requested because if someone’s not in the right state of mind they won’t hear it, in one ear, out the other. Dan Tasset: In fact you may do more harm than good. Travis Tasset: Right, and again it comes down to results. Let’s circle back for a minute and go back to what you said earlier about being ruthlessly honest but being wise. Talk a little bit more about wisdom and what that means and how do you decide who do you share it with? Dan Tasset: There’s probably three things; who do you share it with, what do you share and when do you share it? Travis Tasset: Let’s start with the who. Dan Tasset: Number one is generally you would say, I’m giving you criticism, coaching, feedback, I’m being ruthlessly honest with you. Wisdom says, I’m telling this person something, can they affect outcome? Can they affect change? Can they do anything about it? That’s number one. They’re saying, “Why are you talking to me? I can’t do anything about this.” So, first is being able to connect outcome to the person you’re giving feedback and coaching to. You equate it to a football team and you’re talking to a lineman about how to run a good pass route. He’s going to look at you like you’re crazy. Why are you talking to me about this? Logically you wouldn’t do that. That may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. The second thing on the who side is can they be trusted. Just because they’re an employee, maybe considered a good employee, sometimes you have to discern through wisdom whether or not they can be trusted with this information. Whether it’s not ready to spread internally yet, you’re not ready to communicate with everybody yet. I think you’ve got to think about that. Travis Tasset: That brings in the when component. Dan Tasset: The when, timing, is really important. I don’t think it’s a good thing to bring bad news to the organization, even if it is a need-to-know and those that can impact change, first thing at 8:00 on a Monday morning. It’s just not wise to do that, there’s probably better timing for that. Travis Tasset: Friday at 4:00 maybe? I’m just kidding. That’s probably not a good time either. Dan Tasset: Timing is really important on how you do that. I think the third thing is what you’re saying. Whenever we speak, whenever we communicate in order to build trust, if trust doesn’t already exist and even to maintain trust, we should always tell the truth. Ruthlessly honest. Just because something is true does not mean it needs to be said. Travis Tasset: I couldn’t agree more. Dan Tasset: So, this whole idea of transparency in my opinion is not an all or nothing. Not only who you say it to, when you say it, but what you say obviously needs to be truthful but you may need to limit how much truth you actually do tell. I think it’s critically important. Travis Tasset: What do you mean by that? Say a little more about that, that it’s transparency, honesty, it isn’t all or nothing. Dan Tasset: You could take all kinds of different circumstances to it. Say I have a direct report, I have an employee, somebody is a leader and they have a direct report. The direct report is really making progress but you’ve been coaching them hard and they’ve been improving but they may be a little bit fragile if you push too much more at any one given time. You’re making good progress but I’ve got one more little thing this week I’d like to coach them on. I actually have six things but do I throw all six things and worry about them completely imploding because you threw too much at them at one time. I think being wise is saying I’m just going to bring up this one thing today even though I have five other things that are completely brutally truthful, honest, but I don’t believe they can handle those other five things, I’m just going to bring up one of them right now to see whether I can get them to continue to move in the right direction. Wisdom comes with knowing people, knowing who they are. Just because it’s truth doesn’t mean it needs to be said, at least not right now and maybe never. You don’t know, you’ve just got to kind of judge people and that’s where wisdom comes from. If you’ve done it enough times you’ll know when to pull back just a little bit. Travis Tasset: I’m sure some of that comes with experience and time, right? Dan Tasset: Sure, that’s wisdom more than anything, experience and time. Travis Tasset: And a lot of failure and probably some pain and suffering. Let’s talk about emotions and how emotions come into the equation. I talked a little bit earlier about anger and expressing anger will sometimes make you more angry. Is it good to be emotionally charged, positive or negative, when you’re giving feedback, when you’re being real with other people? How do you see emotions come into the fold? Dan Tasset: It comes from the timing of when probably more than anything. First of all, I think it’s really unwise to go into any coaching session or any constructive criticism session, whether it is solicited or whether it’s with a direct report with a company because you’re the CEO of the company or the administrative facility, whatever it might be, you’re in a leadership position, even your own family, you’re own children, it’s really unwise to go into that when you’re emotionally upset. If you’re enthusiastic in a positive way, different story. Travis Tasset: Do you think it’s a good time when you’re positive? Dan Tasset: Yes. I think when you’re emotionally charged because you’re enthusiastic about the positives of the week or the positives of the previous week and you’ve just had a bunch of successes and you’ve just had a big win and you want to come into the locker room and you really want to talk about what a great time, there’s no better time because people are enthusiastic as they’ve just chalked up a win and they’re ready to go and hear the next what’s going on. Travis Tasset: Because it’s contagious, right? Dan Tasset: Right, yes. Travis Tasset: Do you ever find yourself dialing down your excitement? Dan Tasset: No. No, I don’t unless I need to dial it down to be articulate, to be able to explain what I’m saying. Again it’s a matter of being real. People might say, “When is bad timing?” When you’re really angry, you’re really upset and and something’s really – I just don’t think that’s a great time to go out and start to give criticism because I think that the emotional wake that you might leave or it impairs your ability to be a good coach, to be a good leader. I think when you feel that emotional charge in an angry way I think that negative is going to diminish you as a leader. Even though it may be real for you at the time but what’s even more real is that your able to recognize that I might not be at my best right now because I’m so upset and so angry. I think it’s okay that when you do provide the feedback, whether it’s a whole organization, a whole department or one person, to be able to say, “I was going to do this two days ago but I was so angry and so upset I thought I might really do a bad job of providing coaching here, so I’ve opted to wait a day or two until I calmed down.” That’s about as authentic as you can get. Now you’re in a place where you really thought through it, you can really provide great leadership to people. I just really encourage everybody when emotions are high in a negative way then you probably need to push the pause button, not a good time to provide a coaching session. Travis Tasset: This comes back to the wisdom part of the timing and when it’s appropriate and certainly when it’s not sometimes. Dan, let’s talk for a minute about situations in which there’s an organization that lacks trust or the culture of the organization has a very low amount of trust. What do you do? How do you build that trust other than being honest and real and being wise in when you share it and how you share it. What are your general thoughts on how do you build trust when it seems to be deficient? Dan Tasset: Two things. Primarily, number one, you have to make sure that you have a strong immune system to the lack of trust which can completely eat away at your entire organization. I’ve podcasted and blogged on this before, trust is the immune system of an organization just like the immune system of your body. If you catch a cold your immune system fights that cold off rather than having that cold destroy your entire body. In the physical self if you’re susceptible to colds, it erodes away and affects your health and you always make sure you’ve got a strong immune system. How do you do that? Good rest, good exercise, nutrition, all of those kinds of things builds a strong immune system so that when little bad things happen it doesn’t destroy your whole body. The same’s true in an organization. If you have problems, and you will, every organization will have problems, it starts eroding the immune system, which is trust. The question is, how do you build that trust? There’s two ways. One of them is to make sure that you eliminate all triangulation, all water fountain talk, a lot of times called back stabbing or whatever it might be, delivering the message to the wrong mailbox. You’re talking about Susie and Mary reports to you and Susie comes to talk to you about Mary and you should immediately as a leader say, “Have you talked to Mary about this problem? Mary can’t solve the problem, we can’t fix it unless Mary’s in the room. Let me go get Mary and then you can tell both Mary and me what the problem is.” Travis Tasset: She may not even be aware of the problem. Dan Tasset: So, rebuild your immune system, build trust by stopping the water fountain talk, triangulation in the organization, that’s number one. Number two, communication and transparent communication. So, if you have a strong immune system you have strong trust in an organization and frankly I don’t think you need transparency. The stronger the trust is the less communication, the less transparency you need. Conversely the less trust you have the more communication. You have to over communicate, you have to overly be transparent in everything that you’re doing. To me it’s just making sure that you do everything and anything you can to communicate to your organization. To me that transparency in the best and the simplest form is you answer questions before they’re ever asked. That’s the way I try to look at communication inside of an organization. Travis Tasset: What do you mean you answer questions before they’re ever asked? Dan Tasset: I try to anticipate. If I were to sit in a room and we were completely real and I said to my employees, “We’re going to have a question and answer session,” what would they ask me? First of all, you’re going to have a difficult time getting people to ask, especially in a group setting because they won’t want to be embarrassed. They won’t want to be embarrassed by the question. Should they already have known, should they even be asking, is it even appropriate? What I try to do is say is if there weren’t those impediments to the questions, what would their questions be? Then try to be completely transparent and communicate the answer to what I anticipate their questions would have been way in advance of them even asking. Frankly, if you can communicate way in advance of them even thinking about it then I think you’re building trust, you’re creating transparent communication and you’re building trust because you’re telling them in advance of them even thinking about it. I often hear people get frustrated as a leader and it drives me crazy and frankly I learned this a long time ago and it drove me crazy and I’m embarrassed to even say I did this a lot, “Why are people not doing what I want them to do? Why are they not acting like I would act or would want them to act?” I think the answer is because they’re not thinking like you think, they don’t know what you know. The purpose of transparent communication is not only to build trust but it’s to get them to think and act what you would like to see them think and act. The only way to do that is to help them see what you see. If I can help them see what I see they’ll think like I think and then they’ll act like we would want them to act and we’ll get the performance of a high performing organization. It’s just that simple. It sounds simple, hard to do. Travis Tasset: What you said a moment ago reminds me of the last employee forum of ValueHealth and NueHealth. You did a Q&A session up there with John Palumbo and I think Carl King was up there for some of the time. I was just amazed that you were fielding questions for almost an hour, the amount of questions that you got from the audience. I think that only happened because of the amount of trust that we have within the organization. Years back I can remember people were hesitant to even ask questions, so I just think that’s a good example of having a culture of trust and transparency. I just want to thank you for bringing that to our organization. Dan Tasset: I think we’re working up on 30 minutes here probably, aren’t we Travis? I just want to leave people, particularly those inside of our organization who may be listening to this podcast, is really please share the podcast with others, even outside the organization. I just want to leave them with caring for your fellow worker, caring for your family, loving your fellow worker, it comes after trust and trust comes after truth and truth is a result of the ultimate integrity and being real inside of an organization and being authentic. I’ll just say it again, I think people follow people and they’ll follow people who are authentic, who are real, way before they’ll follow people who are always right. The caring part and the love part that comes from trust and truth and integrity is I think that you cannot just tell the truth and have integrity, it has to become who you are and it has to be what you do. It’s not just I tell the truth. No, you are truth. It is what I do. I am real, I am authentic, every bit about me is truth. It just becomes an innate part of who you are. If that’s not who you are as a leader, for those leaders who are listening, don’t just tell the truth, let it become who you are. Travis Tasset: Enough said. Thank you, Dan, appreciate your time today. Thank you for listening to another episode of Value Talks. Please subscribe and be sure to leave a review.