This article by Randy Conley on trust and spin hit home for me. In fact, when I looked at the list of 10 ways leaders bust trust and took an honest stock of myself, I realized I have been guilty of 8 out of 10. What?!!! I thought I was without blemish, leading from a truthful and direct place, but if I’m honest – with myself and with you – I have been guilty, especially of the sin of spin.

Over the years, especially as an HR leader, I have been tripped up by massaging the story. I was proficient at using all sorts of HR lingo that no one could make heads or tails of for a variety of efforts. But my worst offense? When asked directly about someone’s performance, who I knew in confidence the CEO or other top leaders didn’t think highly of, I packaged it neatly – all tied up with a beautiful Tiffany bow. Spin.

I cringe reading this and remembering some of these conversations. And if you were on the receiving end, my apologies. Today, I do my best not to spin, and I coach leaders similarly. Although I am a firm believer in artfully communicating for everyone’s best interest (meaning successful outcome), direct, truthful conversations by far win the day.

In reading Susan Scott’s Fierce Conversations a few years ago, I was heartened to learn additional frameworks which help us to have strong, direct conversations. No spin. No massaging. What a relief! Sure, from time to time, I have been known to be “too direct.” But I would much rather be labeled too direct than be guilty of busting trust. To me, busting trust is one of the cardinal sins of leadership – there simply is nowhere to go without it.

Take a hard look at the list in Randy’s article and at yourself.  Both that article and Daniel Goleman’s latest post on How Leaders Build Trust are excellent guideposts. There is no time better than today to course correct.  If you want to spin, take a class – I hear there are plenty!


As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.

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