Leadership Anthropologist, Mentor, Coach & Business Consultant

Proactively helping business leaders engage, empower and grow!

10 Powerful Ways to Build Trust

Now, more than ever, leaders need to decisively and powerfully nurture trust in the workplace. Although much of what it takes to build trust is common sense, it’s not always common practice. In this short video, I share 10 practical ways leaders can immediately build trust with their teams and organizations.

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4 Critical Needs of Employees During Coronavirus Lockdown

4 Basic Human Needs for Engagement

Thanks to Tanmay Vora at QAspire.com for the sketchnote

Now, more than ever, people need leaders to step up and lead from the heart.

The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down, and people are looking to their leaders for direction on how to move forward when it seems like life has ground to a halt. Sheltering in place and social distancing may be effective strategies for slowing the spread of coronavirus, but they can be recipes for disaster by creating isolation, fear, and loneliness. Millions of workers have been told to work remotely, often with little training on how to do so effectively. That leads to a loss of productivity, frustration, low morale, and disengagement.

In order to be fully engaged and bring our best selves to work, there are four basic human needs that must be met. Meeting these needs has become even more critically important during this time of uncertainty and change, and if we lose sight of them, we run the risk of losing our best people.

In conducting over 19,000 exit interviews of employees who voluntarily left their jobs, Leigh Branham, author of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, identified four basic needs that weren’t being met that started people on the path to disengagement and ultimately quitting a job.

The Need for Trust — The number one priority for any leader is to build trust with his/her team members. Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, and in the workplace it’s a non-negotiable if leaders desire to tap into the full effort and passion of their employees. Employees won’t give you their best if they don’t believe you have their best interests in mind. They will shy away from taking risks or making themselves vulnerable if they don’t feel safe and trusted. They expect company leadership to deliver on their promises, to be honest and open in communication, to invest in them, and to treat them fairly. The ABCD Trust Model is a helpful tool for leaders to understand what it means to be trustworthy and build trust with others.

The Need to Have Hope — I’ve had the privilege of meeting football legend Rosey Grier, a member of the “Fearsome Foursome” when he played with the Los Angeles Rams, and now a Christian minister and inspirational speaker. He said something I’ve never forgotten. When speaking about his work with inner city youth in Los Angeles, Rosey said “Leaders aren’t dealers of dope, they are dealers of hope!” So true…leaders are dealers of hope. We need to instill a sense of hope in the people we lead. Our people need to believe they will be able to grow, develop their skills, and have the opportunity for advancement or career progress. It’s our job as leaders to foster that hope and support our employees in their growth.

The Need to Feel a Sense of Worth — Despite its struggles and challenges, work is an intrinsically rewarding experience for people. We derive a tremendous amount of self-worth from our work, whether it’s something we’re employed to do or whether we volunteer our time and effort. Employees have a need to feel confident that if they work hard, do their best, and demonstrate commitment and make meaningful contributions, they will be recognized and rewarded appropriately.

The Need to Feel Competent — Employees need to be matched in jobs where their talents align with the challenges of the work. If the work is too simple, then it’s easy for people to lose interest and become disengaged. If the employee is in over his/her head and the work is too challenging, it can lead to discouragement and frustration. Leaders are on a constant quest to find ways to place employees in that sweet spot where they are challenged at just the right level. But it’s not all on the shoulders of leaders to do this work. Employees need to take responsibility for their own development and learn how to manage their motivational outlooks.

These four needs – trust, hope, sense of worth, and competence – aren’t just needed during the coronavirus lockdown. They’re needed each and every day. Unfortunately, too many people show up to work each day and check their expectation for these needs at the door. They don’t think of work as a place where they should experience fulfillment. Isn’t that sad? If there is one good thing to come out of this global pandemic, I hope it’s the renewed focus that leaders have on the value of their people. Most business leaders spout the cliche that “people are our most valuable asset.” Well, now is the time to put the money where your mouth is. What are you doing to meet these basic human needs of employees during this unprecedented time?

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A Present for Working at Home

This morning I was rereading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s, Full Catastrophe Living. It feels like so many of us are being thrust into the full catastrophe. Here is a little present from the introduction to the second edition:

Work at Home

“The only way we have of influencing the future is to own the present, however we find it. If we inhabit this moment with full awareness the next moment will be very different because of our very presence in this one. Then we just might find imaginative ways to fully live the life that is actually ours to live.

Can we experience joy and satisfaction as well as suffering? What about being more at home in our own skin within the maelstrom? What about tasting ease of well-being, even genuine happiness? This is what is at stake here. This is the gift of the present moment, held in awareness, non-judgmentally, with a little kindness.”

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Work at Home: Manage The Circle of Transitions

This post can be used by individuals to manage the transitions they experience with the change to working at home. If you are a leader/manager I encourage you to take time with your staff either individually or collectively to help them be mindful and to manage the challenging transitions that can accompany the movement from being at the office to working from home. Ensure you also do this for yourself.

As a leader, you don’t have to become a psychologist but you need to know that the single biggest failure of organizations around change is the failure to acknowledge who is losing what because of the change (William Bridges). Don’t fail to address the loses around the changes people are experiencing in their work due to COVID-19.

Debbie misses her morning order of dark coffee before arriving at work. She felt helpless when she told her three young children that the trip to Disney World was cancelled. And now, she was worried about her ability to get her job done knowing schools were closing for 3 weeks.

Ahmet missed the interactions with the people in his building – going to his basement in the morning failed to energize him the way the daily small interactions with the dozens of people in the office did. Working on Zoom and Skype really did not feel like the next best thing to being there.

Nancy assumed her job would be forever but now with all the stuff going on with the virus she wondered if she would even have a job after this was all over. It felt next to impossible to focus on the task at hand. Simple tasks were taking almost twice as long for her to complete.

Shin relied on the IT department to come to his desk to sort out his computer woes but now he was left staring as his machine and cursing because the off/on and plug/unplug didn’t fix his computer woes. He was worried about how the economic downturn would impact his retirement.

One of the challenges with the change from working outside your home to working inside your home is managing or at least being mindful of all the accompanying psychological transitions involved in these changes.

The master of transitions, Bridges (I love his last name for someone writing on change) said it was vital to know that transitions begin with endings, enter a middle or neutral zone, then end with beginnings.

Have you fully attended to what ended when you made the exodus from the office to home?

It is useful to take even 10 minutes to heighten your awareness of the transitions you are experiencing working from home. Use the Circle of Transition below to target in on your psychological experiences of change.

Circle of Transition

Step 1: Consider what roles, routines, relationships, and assumptions ended or were lost when you left the office. Some of us are out of kilter because our routines have changed while some of us miss the incidental daily relationships. Because this change was precipitated due to COVID-19 it may have shaken your assumptions about wellbeing at work. Or maybe, our role was clear at work but now our roles and functions are murky as we move forward. Of course, not all loses are negative and you may appreciate not encountering certain people each day. Perhaps you have also lost several meaningless tasks you were requested to do each day you were in the office.

Step 2: Now, focus for a second time on the circle of transitions. As you work at home what new roles, routines, relationships, and assumptions are being added to what you do. Are you developing new assumptions about how to work? Have you created rituals or routines to keep you engaged while away from the office? Are you developing new relationships with the other people in your neighborhood who also working from home?

Step 3: Don’t be surprised to find your engagement and productivity at home temporarily diminished because of all that ended and you feel like you are in a neutral zone unsure of what your work will be like in the next 2 weeks to 2 months. Of course, there are a great deal of individual differences and many people will find they are more engaged and productive working at home and hope they can maintain this working arrangement after the crisis ends.

Taking time and giving some thought to the transitions we are experiencing in this change can help us successfully navigate the turbulence we experience.


Do you want some temporary coaching/support/guidance to navigate the transition and to work from home successfully?

I am one of the world’s leading experts on employee experience and engagement, I taught counselling psychology for 25 years, was a workplace coach for Seagram/Diageo for 15 years, and I have personally worked from home for over 40 years.

Contact me today for 1 or 2 individual coaching sessions via phone, Zoom, or Skype. During this challenging time I am reducing my fee to $100 Canadian a session — under $75 US per session.

To get started email me at: david@davidzinger.com or phone 204 894 4483.

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How To Make It Better

Here is a small way to feel better while you work at home.

Never enter a room without making it better before you leave.

We Can Make It Better

I wander while I work at home. After an episode of work I may go upstairs or downstairs. I may poke my head into the garage or hover around the refrigerator. When I visit each room I do something before I exit to make it better. It could range from putting a glass in the sink or wiping a counter to throwing out the trash or organizing papers or engaging in an albeit brief positive interaction with Susan, my wife.

These are tiny actions but in this time of fear and isolation it gives me a small nudge of positive emotion and contribution each time I leave my desk and before I return to work.

I have extended this thinking to outside the house. When I enter a room full of people or visit with friends I determine how I can make it better for even just one person before I depart.

Acknowledgement, recognition, appreciation, listening, curiosity, laughter, conversation, and connection are powerful ways “to make a room better.”

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5 Zingers on How to Successfully Work From Home When You Have No Choice

Once there was an elephant

who tried to use the telephant —

No! No! I mean an elephone

Who tried to use the telephone —

~ Laura Elizabeth Richards

With the mass enforced exodus from the workplace to home due to the coronavirus there has been a plethora of articles extolling a tyranny of tips to teach neophytes how to show up for work when you are forced to work from home.

Many of these tips take the form of commandments to the newly minted home worker.

  1. Thou shalt shower and dress properly before starting your day.
  2. Thou shalt work only in a spot in your home dedicated to your work!

At 65 years of age, let me face the elephant in the room, or at least in the picture below an elephant in the River Kwai. I have worked out of my home for 40 years and have seen many changes in how I work. In addition, what works one day may not work the next so as opposed to cajoling commandments, I offer 5 invitations to entertain as you muddle thought the trials and tribulations of doing homework when you thought you had left it all behind after grade twelve.

Before you read the five invitations, here is my one real tip: If you ever face an elephant while standing downstream in the River Kwai and the elephant needs do an elephant size number 2, swim to the side and upstream as fast as possible.

Do it your way. The Buddha said be a lamp unto yourself and Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way.” By all means read tips and articles and talk with others but primarily carve out your own path. Some of us love to do household chores between work tasks while others of us need to sequester in a small basement room with minimal noise and no family interaction. Don’t be surprised if your ways and means of work alter based on how you are that specific day, what is going on with anyone else living in the home (including the cat), and the nature of your task.

View this experience as an experiment. Perhaps when the crisis is over you will want to request more opportunities to work from home or you will know that you are meant to be in a bustling office with a cacophony of sounds and a myriad of incidental interactions. Be reflective about how your experience unfolds even if you capture yourself folding laundry when you desperately need to complete the quarterly projections. Stay curious and learn more about your own best ways of working.

Make memories. At one point during my career working from home, I had 3 children under two years of age inhabit the same place I worked (twins were born when our son was one). It was bat-shit crazy at times and the pablum on a report definitely diminished the report’s gravitas but today I have playful memories of the challenges and the time spent at home cemented a close relationship with my children.

Be mindful of your own engagement. To me engagement is caring. Take moments during the day to monitor how much you care about what you are doing. If you are full of care for your work, good— but if your caring is low be careful and don’t become careless. Good relationships can contribute to our caring so know that you may be on your own at home but you are not alone. Make good use of the plethora of tools to stay connected and supported with coworkers from email, text, and the phone to Skype, Zoom. and WhatsApp.

If you can laugh, you can last. Given this is a forced change know that things will go wrong. You may find yourself watching a game show at ten in the morning or you may find yourself with an appetite like an elephant knowing the fridge is just a few short steps away. If you work in your housecoat be sure it doesn’t suddenly fling open when you answer the door to sign for a package.

Please note that I inserted three elephants into this article and loosely referred to a bowel movement with the real elephant in the River Kwai. It wasn’t funny at the time but it brings a smile to my face now as I never knew how fast I could swim when fully motivated. Perhaps even if you feel you are sinking at times the necessity of working from home will help you to swim more powerfully into your work.

I am not prone to prayer but I like to start my working day with this modified serenity prayer composed by an anonymous woman named Jane N: “God grant me the laughter to see the past with perspective, face the future with hope, and celebrate today without taking myself too seriously.”

Perhaps before you return to the office you may discover, “there is no place like home.”


Do you want some coaching/support/guidance on how to work at home? If you would like authentic and down to earth coaching directly with David Zinger, one of the world’s leading experts on employee experience and engagement, on how to work well at home I invited you to contact me for 1 or 2 individual coaching sessions via phone, Zoom, or Skype. During this challenging time I will reduce my fee to $100 Canadian a session — which is under $75 US per session. To get started email me: david@davidzinger.com.

Working from Home

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4 Areas to Address in Your Coronavirus Working Virtually Strategy


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The desire to contain the spread and impact of the COVID-19 virus has led many organizations to require their employees to work from home. For some, working virtually isn’t a big change. Many workers are already accustomed to working remotely on an intermittent or regular basis. It’s been reported that 43% of Americans work from home occasionally and at least 5.2% (8 million people) work from home full-time.

However, there’s a big difference between occasionally working from your kitchen table and setting up shop in your home for an extended period of time (or permanently).

Before you pull the trigger on sending your team members home to work virtually, I suggest you formulate a thoughtful strategy. Having led and been a part of virtual teams for many years, I can testify that working from home is not a panacea. It has its advantages compared to life in a cubicle, but it has its own unique challenges as well.

Incorporate these four areas in your strategy to have team members work virtually:

Clarity—Your team needs clear direction about the expectations and responsibilities of working remotely. Questions or topics to address include: Will team members be expected to maintain specific “office” hours? Does there need to be a different process for securing a backup if someone needs to be away from their desk or has a personal appointment? What technology platforms will you use, and when, to replace face-to-face meetings? If webcams are required for meetings, will be people be allowed to opt-out because they’re having a “bad hair day” (when, likely, they just didn’t feel like changing out of their pajamas)? Are there norms established that govern how the team makes decisions, communicates, and collaborates? Don’t assume the implicit expectations of a few team members working from home occasionally are explicitly known by everyone and that they apply to having the entire team function virtually.

Communication—Effective communication is the key to working successfully in a virtual team and of primary importance is establishing trust among team members. Trust is built through interpersonal interactions, and unfortunately, working virtually reduces the amount of interpersonal connection we experience compared to working in the office. We lose the random encounters in the hallway, break room, or at the water cooler that are so important in fostering personal connection. We also lose the visual cues provided by body language that place a person’s communications in context. The reliance upon email and IM in the virtual world easily leads to misinterpreting a person’s intent, usually in a negative fashion, so be proactive about using the phone and webcams to make communications more personal. Stay disciplined about holding one-on-one and team meetings to bring people together to combat loneliness and foster a sense of team identity.

Community—There are many benefits to working remotely. Included are increased productivity, a greater sense of autonomy and control over one’s work, and better work-life balance. But it comes at a cost—isolation and loneliness. Any veteran remote worker will tell you that loneliness is a frequent visitor to their home office and intentional effort is required to prevent that visitor from settling in permanently. Remote workers need to be proactive about reaching out to other team members to connect socially, even to just chit-chat for a few minutes. It’s also important for team leaders to create opportunities for team members to bond. Strategies can include having a virtual team lunch via webcam, have team members share pictures of their pets, or give virtual tours of their home offices. Shifting employees to work virtually, either temporarily in response to the coronavirus, or permanently as part of a larger strategy, requires leaders to increase the amount of training they provide the team. Whether it’s specific training on how to lead or work in a virtual team, or general leadership and other skill-building training, remote employees should not be treated differently from office-based team members. The out of sight, out of mind pitfall often befalls virtual workers, thereby limiting their personal development and advancement opportunities. Virtual workers must advocate for themselves and need their leaders to champion their efforts in being included in the broader organizational community.

Shifting employees to working virtually requires leaders to increase the amount of training they provide the team.

Care—Virtual workers need to take the lead in self-care if they are going to be successful over the long haul. In addition to the challenges of isolation and loneliness, virtual workers often end up working longer hours because work is ever present. It’s hard to resist the temptation of sending just one more email, writing a few more lines of code, putting the finishing touches on that critical presentation, or doing just a bit more data analysis when the glow of the laptop screen is beckoning. To combat this challenge, have a dedicated work space, preferably with a door, where you can leave work behind at the end of the day. Establish personal norms for yourself regarding work hours and breaks, just like you would have in a physical office. Establish boundaries with housemates about noise and activity levels in the house, and how household responsibilities are handled during the workday. Build routines into your schedule that allow you to connect with others and recharge your batteries. It may be going to the coffee shop in the morning, walking the dog around the block, eating lunch outside, or taking an afternoon walk at a local park. Treat working from home much the same way you’d treat working in the office. Getting dressed in office attire puts you in the mindset of being at work, and believe me, it works in your favor when you need to join an impromptu webcam meeting!

For many occupations today, work has become something you do, not somewhere you go. Requiring people to work from home in response to the coronavirus gives many organizations a chance to see that people can be just as productive, if not more so, working virtually as compared to working in the office. This is a fantastic opportunity for organizations to build trust with their employees by giving them the opportunity to work remotely, and it’s also an opportunity for employees to prove themselves trustworthy in response.

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Employee Experience: Under Mental Construction

Employee experience is more than something that happens to you. You mentally construct your experience and this mental construction may be as, or even more, important than the experience itself.

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Happiness based on George Vaillant


The following quote from an article about the Harvard Grant study demonstrated authenticity and realness in happiness.

Only with patience and tenderness might a person surrender his barbed armor for a softer shield. Perhaps in this, I thought, lies the key to the good life—not rules to follow, nor problems to avoid, but an engaged humility, an earnest acceptance of life’s pains and promises. ”

by Joshua Wolf Shenk

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4 Ways Servant Leaders Use Power

PowerThe word itself evokes a reaction. What thoughts or feelings do you have when you think of power? Perhaps you picture an organizational chart where the boxes at the top are imbued with more power than those below. Maybe you imagine an iron fist, representative of a person who rules over others with absolute authority. Or perhaps the word power conjures up feelings of nervousness, anxiety, or fear, based on negative experiences you’ve had in the past. On the flip side, maybe the word power emboldens you with excitement, energy, or drive to exert your influence on people and circumstances in your life.

I recently spoke at the Training 2020 Conference & Expo on the topic of Servant Leadership. After my presentation, a participant approached me to discuss how servant leaders use power. You see, she had noticed on one of my PowerPoint slides that I had said servant leaders “seek more influence.” That seemed contradictory to her. Servant leaders seeking more power? Why?

I explained that power is a dynamic present in all of our relationships and it’s one we need to properly manage to help our relationships develop to their fullest potential. In and of itself, power is amoral; it’s neither good or bad. The way we use power is what determines its value.

But what is power? How do we get it? And once we have it, how do we keep it?

In his book, The Power Paradox: How we gain and lose influence, author and U.C. Berkeley professor of psychology Dacher Keltner, shares twenty “power principles” that range from how we earn power, how to retain it, why power can be a good thing, when we’re likely to abuse it, and the dangerous consequences of powerlessness.

Keltner defines power as the capacity to make a difference in the world, particularly by stirring others in our social networks. Focusing on the needs and desires of others is key, and four specific social practices—empathizing, giving, expressing gratitude, and telling stories—are ways we develop power and sustain it over time. These four keys are in alignment with the benevolent use of power in a servant leadership context.

Enduring Power Comes from a Focus on Others

1. Enduring power comes from empathy—We express empathy when we focus on what other people are feeling. We attune ourselves to their mannerisms, language, expressions, and tone of voice to gain a sense of their emotions. This promotes a sense of connection and trust with others that allows them to be vulnerable and authentic in their behavior. We can promote empathy in several practical ways: asking open-ended questions, listening actively, asking others what they would do in a given situation before offering advice, and soliciting the opinions of those in less powerful positions.

2. Enduring power comes from giving—Giving, without the expectation of receiving something in return, is a tremendous trust builder and leads to people being willing to grant you power in relationships. Keltner focuses on a particular form of giving: touch. Whether it’s politicians shaking hands, athletes high-fiving each other, or a boss giving an affirmative pat on the back, there is tremendous power in the human touch. A reassuring touch on the shoulder or warm embrace causes the release of oxytocin in the brain, a neurochemical that promotes trust, cooperation, and sharing, and also lowers blood pressure and fights the negative effects of the stress-inducing hormone cortisol. The overarching principle of giving is that it’s a way of providing reward and recognition to others that promotes goodwill.

The key to enduring power is simple: Stay focused on other people. Prioritize others’ interests as much as your own. Bring the good in others to completion, and do not bring the bad in others to completion. Take delight in the delights of others, as they make a difference in the world. — Dacher Keltner

3. Enduring power comes from expressing gratitude—Gratitude is the feeling of appreciation we have for things that are given us, whether it’s an experience, a person, an opportunity, or a thing. Importantly, it’s something that has been given to us, not something we’ve attained on our own. Expressing gratitude is a way to confer esteem on others and we can do that in a number of ways: acknowledging people in public, notes or emails of affirmation, and spending time with others. Expression of gratitude spreads goodwill within a team and causes social bonding.

4. Enduring power comes from telling stories that unite—Abraham Lincoln is an excellent example of a leader who used the power of storytelling to communicate important truths and unite people in working toward a common goal. Families, sports teams, businesses, and organizations of all kinds have a history that is communicated through story. Members of these groups establish their identities and understand their role in the group based on those stories. Stories enhance the interests of others and reduces the stress of working in a group. They also help us interpret the events going on around us and shape the way we deal with the challenges we encounter. Stories bring us together and foster the sharing of power that is necessary in organizational life.

Power is often perceived in a negative light. The natural reaction of many is to associate power with Machiavellian attempts at preserving self-interest and exerting dominance over others. It doesn’t have to be that way. Servant leaders know the best use of power is in service to others, and the four principles Keltner advocates are an excellent way to develop and sustain power in a way that allows you to influence others to make a positive difference in the world.

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