Capability Insights Consulting



On Trust, Opinions and Being Judgemental

Posted on July 19, 2014 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (2)

There is interesting work being done to study trust and what makes us trustworthy as leaders, as employees and team mates.


Different groups break it down into various components. The components that resonate with me are:

- credibility

- competence

- integrity

- passion


Credibility and competence seem very linked. If I know what I'm doing, and do it well, and do it when I say I'm going to do it, others can begin to trust me. To sustain the trust that others have in me, I must be honest, must be and be seen to be true to what I've said and be consistent in my behaviour. For me to maintain credibility, competence and integrity, I must care about what I'm doing. Having passion for something makes trustworthy behaviour internally sustainable.


One trust model I've recently reviewed touches on the need for me to have a point of view on something in order for others to begin to trust my actions. Those actions will then be in the context of something vs. seemingly random - thereby building integrity.


I am a firm believer in having a point of view, an opinion. Wishy washy people make me want to run in the opposite direction! Too often, though, when we hold a point of view that is different from others we are called judgemental. And in our current society, judgemental seems always be a bad thing. I find this very disturbing.


For me to judge something means I have looked at and considered the available information, looked at and considered the sources of the information, considered how all this information fits (or not) into my current knowledge and then developed a point of view. In short, I now have an opinion. For me to have passion about something, I have to care enough about it to have an opinion! And I must integrate that opinion into the rest of my opinions in order to behave consistently.


Check out various dictionary definitions of judgemental as not all definitions are negative. Having a propensity to pass judgement should be a critical attribute of a leader. Think of judges. Our legal system holds the ability to pass judgement as foundational.


Worse, slapping the negative "judgemental" label on someone ends the conversation before it can even get started. Want to break someone's trust in you? Toss out a negative label!


So, instead of using the word judgemental in a negative way, and before accusing someone of being judgemental perhaps we need to think about our own reactions.

- Do I think the person has rushed to judgement, meaning that they do not have all the information needed to form a point of view and have an opinion?

- Do I have concerns about the sources of information that has led them to their current point of view?

- Do I think their consideration and analysis of the information is flawed in some way? Do I believe they have made an error in judgement?

- Do I simply hold a different opinion? What does it mean to me that I find someone else's different opinion distasteful or frightening?

- Do I not trust this person so assume they are being negatively judgemental?


When I understand my reaction I can avoid labels and explore the situation further. I leave open the opportunity for better understanding. I leave open the possibility that even if we end up disagreeing, we can still trust each other.


There is much more to explore around trust and leadership. For now I'm making a commitment to be thoughtful and diligent in forming my points of view and in checking my reactions if I'm tempted to label someone as judgemental. 






The Lost Art of Why

Posted on July 3, 2010 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (3)

Has anyone else noticed that asking “why” has become a problem in our corporate/organizational world?


The parents amongst us remember well the phase our children went through when they asked why constantly. Sure, it could be a bit annoying at times but it also marked that very special time when we knew they were trying to understand how their world worked, what the rules were and where their boundaries were. In short they were learning. Many of their “why” questions forced us to rethink what we take for granted. I know some of those “why” questions left me wondering “why” as well.


As business has moved faster and as the economy has tightened, far too often those that ask the “why” of something are seen as nay-sayers or as people getting in the way of getting things done. I see it as a symptom of the lack of thinking happening in too many organizations. Taking the time to think things through is seen as “so yesterday”. The mantra seems to be “do, do and redo”.


I get it – agility is good, doing something is often better than doing nothing. Though I take issue with the idea that thinking about something, asking “why”, and digging for root causes is doing nothing!


Doing can be a way of thinking if we keep “why” in our vocabulary and treat our early doings as learnings and evolution. But even then there needs to be the freedom to ask why:

  • Why did we do it that way before?
  • Why isn’t it working now?
  • Why do we think this way will be better?
  • Why did our first iteration not get us where we need to be?

I now have to coach people to not ask “why” directly but rather to rephrase to “can you help me understand”, “what about this is concerning”, etc. When did we become such a defensive culture? We think of the business world as logical and rational, as strong and assured – yet nowhere is the simple question of “why” so frowned upon. No where else does it create the same level of defensiveness. Why?


For sure, those asking why must be respectful of the ideas and needs of others. “Why” should never, ever be an excuse for a personal attack. Asking why should always be about gaining understanding, about wanting to make things better, about wanting to surface any issues that could get in the way of implementation success.


I challenge all of us to get better at asking why and at accepting “why” questions. Why questions are not about tearing down proposals or plans, they are about gaining understanding and clarity; about exploring the edges of ideas or the core of how things have always been.


I challenge all of us to use “why” questions to uncover inefficiencies, easily avoidable risks, learn how others see a situation and to generally improve the success of our projects and businesses.


Hey, why not?!




Organizational Change Isn't

Posted on April 30, 2010 at 3:42 PM Comments comments (1)

The term organizational change is a bit misleading. Yes the change may be needed for the health of the organization and yes, change can and should impact the organization. But change actually happens to individuals. If your people don’t acknowledge, accept and ultimately embrace the needed change, your improvement initiative will fail.


Effective communication will reduce your frustration in managing the change and significantly increase the success of your improvement efforts.


Communicate the organizational context

Everyone needs this. Here you have to communicate the what, why, where, when and who of the change. In the previous post (Just What is the First Step to Managing Change) we talked about you and your management team having a clear understanding of the business drivers and rationale for the change. Share this widely...share it often! Share it in many forms: e-mail, presentations, newsletters and one-on-one.


Help your people and teams see that there is a reason for the change and that they have an important role to play.


Communicate the individual context


While the organizational context is necessary, the personal context is critical. We are human units first and ambulatory work units second! We need to make sense of the change in our own personal context.


Be prepared to answer and re-answer the following questions:

  • Will I have to change?
  • How will I have to change?
  • Will my salary, where I work or my leader change?
  • Will I get training/time to make the change?
  • Are others changing?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • How will I know when the change is complete?
  • Am I there yet?
  • Am I doing OK?

Even your most ardent supporters from an organizational context will need to have a good picture of the personal change context to stay focused and help you move forward.


Be prepared and plan for you to handle these questions for your management team and for them to communicate with and coach their people.