What if there was a global currency that you could use as a medium of exchange between yourself and the people you are trying to influence?

And as a Mindful Leader, when you gave someone this currency, in exchange, the people you are attempting to influence would go above and beyond to follow your instructions to the letter.

Are you curious what the global currency of leadership could be?

The Speed of Trust

This currency does exist, and it’s called TRUST.

When a leader has invested their time and energy (aka currency) in creating a high trust relationship between themselves and others, the returns are enormous.  They quickly discover that they can achieve results faster than their peers.

A trusted leader gets results faster because they have put in the effort, in advance, of building trust between themselves and those they are trying to influence.

Faster results mean initiatives take less time and cost less, which makes trusted leaders extremely valuable to organizations.

When trust is low, people are slow to respond, you face stronger resistance to your ideas (even if they are good), and it takes longer to get everyone moving in the same direction.

When trust is high, you encounter the opposite. Your people deliver faster, champion your ideas, and it is much easier to get everyone on board.

The Emotional Bank Account

I first learned about the emotional bank account from Stephen Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

The gist of this model is that you view every interaction with others as either a deposit or withdrawal.

Deposits include – being a reference, genuine praise, help with a problem, being a coach or mentor, paying attention, defending those not present, giving the benefit of the doubt, active listening, and being a person of integrity, are all examples of deposits.

Withdrawals include – call in a favour, ask for a reference, reach out for information, checking your phone during a one-on-one (aka not paying attention), office politics, gossip and judging others, are all examples of withdrawals.

The core benefit of this strategy is that it gives you a simple model that you can follow to establish and build trust with the people around you.

How It Works

I’ve used this strategy for most of my career. Here are a few tips and hidden rules to use it effectively:

  1. Deposits build trust. Trust is the foundation of your reputation and is required to establish meaningful relationships. When others view you as trustworthy, you come across as dependable, reliable and deserving of the trust that they have placed in you.
  2. When you make too many withdrawals, you create distrust. The opposite of trust is distrust. Distrust puts up barriers that impede communication and blocks influence. Very little can be accomplished when there is distrust between two parties. When you have trust, communication and influence are fast. When there is distrust, everything slows down.
  3. Resistance is a sign of a negative balance. When you encounter resistance, it’s a sign that you haven’t made enough deposits. Start filling the emotional bank account. Refer to list of universal deposits below.
  4. Every withdrawal requires at least ten deposits. You need to keep the emotional bank account full. Do your best never to let the balance go below zero. I like to use the ratio of 1:10, only make one withdrawal for every ten deposits. NOTE: This is a rule of thumb. I don’t actually keep score. See point about keeping score below.
  5. Start early and make deposits often. You will need to make withdrawals when you least expect it. This is the “Life Happens” rule. There will be times in your life when you will need to make a massive withdrawal. Perhaps you need help looking for your next job, you need support during a personal crisis, or you must act quickly on a short-term opportunity. If you haven’t made enough deposits, it will be difficult to get support when you need it most. So start making deposits now!
  6. Your intent needs to be genuine. If you use this strategy to manipulate or coerce, it will backfire. People will eventually see through your attempt which will do more damage than good.
  7. This strategy is not limited to your work life. This same approach will work in both your professional and personal relationships.
  8. There are two balances. What you perceive as the balance and what the other person perceives it to be, are two different balances. You may feel that you are making deposits and yet you are still facing resistance. This is a sign that you haven’t figured out what motivates the other person.
  9. What you think is a deposit, maybe a withdrawal to someone else. Everyone has different motivations. The secret to making this work is to learn what motivates the people around you. Discover what drives them and make that deposit often.
  10. Don’t forget about the banking fees. Just like with a bank account, there is a fee for using this service. Every day, when you neglect a  relationship, a small withdraw is taken from their account. This is especially true for the people closest to you. The balance slowly goes down over time, even if you are not making withdrawals. The lesson: make small deposits daily to cover the banking fee.
  11. Never keep score. When using this strategy, it’s crucial that you apply an abundance mindset. When you help someone, it doesn’t mean that they owe you something in return. Your intention needs to be that you are helping because it’s the right thing to do, not to get something out of it. If you are keeping score, then you are manipulating and will damage your reputation.
  12. Legacy = (Deposits – Withdrawals) x People. Your legacy as a mindful leader is the sum of all the positive balances that you have made with others over your lifetime. Investing in long-term relationships is that best thing that you can do as a mindful leader. Start making deposits today.

Universal Deposits

Looking for ideas on what deposits you can use? Here are some that you can apply in just about any situation:

  1. Positive Attitude. People do not like hanging out with people that have a negative attitude. A great place to start is to adjust your attitude.
  2. Avoid Gossip. When you talk about others behind their backs, you are planting the seed of distrust in the minds the people you are gossiping. They are unconsciously thinking, “What is this person saying about me behind my back?”. A good rule to follow is never to say anything about anyone that you wouldn’t speak directly to that person.
  3. Defend Those Not Present. A great way to counter gossip is to defend those that are not present. Speak up when someone says something negative about another person behind their back. Add a positive perspective to the situation.
  4. Know Where You Stand. To establish creditably and trust, you need to get clear on your values and what you represent. Go through a values clarification exercise and raise your standards.
  5. Be Transparent. Hidden agendas will sneak up on you. Act with integrity by being genuine and honest with what you are trying to accomplish. Be yourself and most importantly, never lie.
  6. Extend Trust First. To create trust, you need to extend trust. Don’t wait for others to act. Be the first to reach out.
  7. Pay Attention. Giving someone your undivided attention, even for a short period is a massive deposit. Put away your phone, focus your complete attention on the people that you are with, and practice active listening.
  8. Shut Up and Listen. Don’t dominate the conversation. Realize that when you give others the space to express their thoughts, you are making a deposit. WARNING: If you are not paying attention to what they are saying you are making a withdrawal, not a deposit.
  9. Remember Peoples Names. People know you are listening when you remember the little details about their lives. Pay attention to their names, the names of their spouse/kids, and their hobbies. A great way to make regular deposits is to use these little details in follow-up conversations.
  10. Belief In Others. Probably the most significant deposit that you can give another human being is to believe in them. Hold people to a higher standard, honestly believe in their ability, and provide positive praise and motivation.
  11. Avoid Hot Buttons. We all have situations that push our hot buttons and trigger an emotional hijack (fear, anger, jealousy). This is especially true during busy and stressful times. Knowing the hot buttons of the people around you will help you avoid unnecessary withdrawals.
  12. Work On Your Hot Buttons. If the people around you are walking on eggshells, trying to avoid your hot buttons to prevent an emotional outburst, you are continually making massive withdrawals. It takes courage to own up to your negative behaviours and persistence to change them.

In Summary

Trust is the currency of leadership. When you have established trust with the people around you, you are a more effective and efficient leader.

You will be more effective because you will encounter less resistance to your ideas and will be able to achieve results faster.  You will also be more efficient because you will be able to produce these results using less of your time and energy.

Every interaction we have with another person is either placing a deposit or making a withdrawal in their emotional bank account. When you make regular deposits, it creates a positive balance, and there is trust. When we make too many withdrawals, we become overdrawn, which results in distrust.

When you follow the rules within for this strategy and take action using the universal deposits, you will build a solid foundation of credibility and trust as a mindful leader.

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