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How to Learn the Two Crucial Qualities Leaders Need to Build Trust

It seems obvious that leaders should be nice and know what they are doing. But people still study these things, and their research confirms(pdf) that warmth and competence are the two most important qualities of trustworthy leaders. But building trust is easier said than done. How can you be nice without seeming insincere? How do you show competence without showing off, or looking like a jerk?

Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer, authors of Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both, have developed a collection of “nano-tools”—simple actions that leaders can learn and use in less than 15 minutes. The duo, professors at the Columbia Business School and Wharton, argue that contrary to popular belief, trust does not take ages to build. At the same time, there’s no such thing as an inherently trustworthy leader—executives have to earn it.

Here’s how:

Show concern for others

Know about about your employees’ lives. Ask about spouses, kids, health issues, and aging parents. (John Gottman, the famous marriage guru, refers to this as love maps: humans like to be known and appreciated. Apparently this also applies to bosses and employees as much...

Crack Open the Black Box to Fix Hiring

Many human capital officials are worried these days about how to ensure that government continues to attract, train and retain the superior workforce it needs to fulfill all aspects of its mission. Younger workers are a particular concern as agencies strive to remain employers of choice for the millennial generation (born between 1980 and 1995).

Pervasive anecdotes about how long it takes agencies to hire cybersecurity workers or about government IT staff jumping ship to the private sector convince us that there is an issue with young skilled workers in government. But understanding what is at the root of that issue can be more difficult.

It goes without saying that government won’t be able to solve its workforce issues unless it understands them clearly. Hence any solution needs to begin from accurate data on the government workforce -- how it’s changing, and what’s driving those changes.

Some open workforce data is already being published, which helps. The Office of Personnel Management’s FedScope is a valuable resource at the federal level, and the Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators program sheds valuable light on state and local government labor forces. Some states -- Minnesota is a good example -- have...

Is Email Bad for Office Culture?

Sometime in the past 20 years, people soured on email. Culturally, it went from  delightful to burdensome, a shift that’s reflected in the very language of the inbox. In the 1990s, AOL would gleefully announce, “You’ve got mail!” Today, Gmail celebrates the opposite: “No new mail!”

So what happened to email? What happened to us?

These are some of the questions that come up in the new technology podcastCodebreaker, the first season of which is fixated on the question, “Is it evil?”

“In some ways, [email] is like technology that was built when the world was new, yet we still use it all the time,” Codebreaker’s host, Ben Brock Johnson, told me. “There are some real tensions that come from that, that come from the fact that it’s this free thing that anybody can send to anybody... and we can all send as many as we want.”

All of that is, theoretically, what makes email great, too. “You can't kill email! It’s the cockroach of the Internet,” Alexis Madrigal wrote for The Atlantic last year, “and I mean that as a compliment. This resilience is a good thing.”

“Email is the last great...

When Good Teams Produce Bad Results

Let's make an agreement: You and I will go along with the team.

And if the product is less than optimal, at least we got along.

If the requirements make no sense because the client thinks he knows marketing better than we do, we'll deal with it.

If the project scope bleeds until its outer limits are unrecognizable, we'll cope.

If the timeline gets drastically shortened while you were out of the office for a tooth cleaning, no problem.

If the demands are much more than we can actually deliver -- whatever you do, don't kick up a fuss. At least not now.

If the logo and tagline are completely off the mark, but they've been approved up and down the chain, with no hassle -- please lay off with the criticism.

Don't mess up the flow of the team. It depends on all of us getting along. 

It's important that you understand that. 

If you do the best you can, and I do the best I can, and none of us make any waves, ever -- well then there isn't much more one could ask for.

Is there?

(Image via Liv friis-larsen/

Why the Best Leaders Sometimes Get Mad (and Show It)

Think about remarkably successful people. They're logical. They're rational. In the face of crisis or danger or even gross incompetence, they remain steely-eyed, focused, and on point.

They don't get angry -- or at the very least they don't show their anger.

Unless they happen to be Steve Jobs. Or Jeff Bezos. Or Bill Gates. Or Larry Ellison. Or...

Most of us were taught that the only way to lead effectively is to eliminate, or at the very least swallow and hide, emotions like anger and frustration. Go professional or go home, right?


According to research conducted by Henry Evans and Colm Fosteremotional intelligence experts and authors of Step Up: Lead in Six Moments That Matter, the highest performing people -- and highest performing teams -- tap into and express their entire spectrum of emotions.

Which, when you think about it, makes sense: we all get angry (even this guy must get angry once in a while) so why not take advantage of that emotion?

Evans and Foster say anger is actually useful when harnessed and controlled because it fosters two useful behavioral capabilities.

Anger creates focus. Get mad and you tend to focus on one thing...