The Leader’s Treasure Map in Navigating Business Cultures


How many times have you wondered whether the person you were talking with really grasped the meaning of your message as well as its intent? What was your response? Did you summarize your point again with the hope that this time they would get your message? Do you look for validation that you’ve been heard correctly? What does it mean when people just politely listen, say nothing, and gently nod their heads while you speak? The answer? It depends on the environment in which the person was culturized.

In this global workforce with intertwined business relationships, the most effective and successful leaders will be culturally savvy. First, they will understand their cultural bias and the culture of those with whom they work. Second, the best leaders will modify their style to bridge these cultural gaps. Although technology will continue to shape the business landscape, those who understand how to successfully influence people across cultures will be valued and highly sought after by companies.

Early in my career, I experienced being part of American business teams that left negotiations with an Asian companies either questioning how well the meeting went or being overly confident in the outcome. Why the uncertainty? We typically viewed and interpreted the outcome through our own cultural lenses. Only when we returned home did we learn we hadn’t made as much progress as we thought. How can a team or even an experienced business person successfully navigate these international waters?

The answer lies in reading the treasure map of cultural behaviors, which Erin Meyer spoke about at the 2016 Global Leadership Summit (GLS). Meyer (2014) has studied business cultures and seen “the sad truth…that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work” (Meyer, 2014, p. 10). Meyer concludes that without cultural literacy, your default position will be to judge or misjudge others through your own cultural lens and assume that differences, controversy, and misunderstandings are rooted in individual personalities. The truth? Cultural patterns of belief and behavior frequently impact our perceptions, mindset, and actions (Meyer, 2014).

In her book The Culture Map, Meyer defines the 8 scales that map the world’s cultures and their location on the continuum.

  • Communicating: low-context vs. high-context
  • Evaluating: direct negative feedback vs. indirect negative feedback
  • Persuading: principles-first vs. application-first
  • Leading: egalitarian vs. hierarchical
  • Deciding: consensual vs. top-down
  • Trusting: task-based vs. relationship-based
  • Disagreeing: confrontational vs. avoids confrontation
  • Scheduling: linear-time vs. flexible time

Today we no longer fly to another country to experience different cultures, because diversity sits in the office next door. You may be an American supervisor of an ethnically diverse group, whose style reflects the United States Culture Map. Believing in treating everyone equally, you may be left confused when trying to coach each of your team members who come from China, Japan, Asia, and Europe. You may wonder whether your coaching is making any impact outside of your circle of American colleagues. Your coaching style is likely straightforward with specific concrete examples (low-context) to back up your feedback couched with soft qualifiers (slightly indirect feedback). You probably sandwich negative feedback between two positives. Your Dutch subordinate expects direct feedback, so he may likely misinterpret the degree and importance of your message as he expects you to be straight forward with any negative criticism. You may feel frustrated at his lack of effort and progress in affecting change. Perhaps, you may even start to stereotype Dutch behaviors based on repeated experiences with that ethnic culture. It’s not uncommon for people to routinely experience a clash or misunderstanding of cultures. If we learn about culture, suspend judgment, and build bridges between these cultures to facilitate trust, communication, and ideas, we would harness the potential of every team member.

Giving and receiving constructive feedback is a necessary component of business but sometimes riddled with insecurity for both the giver and receiver. How should constructive criticism be given and taken? How should feedback be delivered to get the best result? How much feedback is lost in translation? How do the words absolutely, strongly, kind of, and sort of play out when delivering criticism? The answer depends on the culturalization of the giver and receiver. Certain phrases and qualifiers have different meanings. Take for example a British colleague providing feedback to his Dutch counterpart. He says, “Please think about that some more,” implying “That’s a bad idea.” A Dutch or German colleague, who expects and is comfortable with direct constructive feedback, would likely interpret that as “It’s a good idea. Keep developing it.”


In business etiquette classes, we are instructed on the ceremonies which demonstrate respect. In Japanese business culture, it’s customary to exchange small gifts with visitors and present a business card with both hands towards the receiver who respectfully reads it upon presentation versus immediately putting it into his portfolio. Americans easily embrace these cultural mannerisms but fail to realize how communication and language may be used differently.

Frequently in my coaching practice, I reference scales from 1 to 10. Regardless of the attribute measured, when an issue between two people is greater than 2 units apart, the two parties will need concentrated effort to resolve differences. Meyer (2014) confirms my informal conclusion when she states that “what matters is not the absolute position of either culture on the scale but rather the relative position of the two cultures” (p. 22). Relative positioning determines how people will view each other.

Meyer’s (2014) first piece of advice when interacting with someone from another culture is to “listen before you speak and learn before you act” (p. 27). Understand how culture will impact the conversation. For example, the United States is the lowest context culture with Japan having the highest context in its communication. In simplest terms, the people culturized in America tend to communicate literally and explicitly. They value clarity and place accountability of the intended message on the communicator to accurately convey the meaning of the message (Meyer, 2014). On the other extreme, Asian cultures often convey messages implicitly which requires the listener to read between the lines. Good communication is layered and subtle, and the responsibility of its accurate transmission is shared between the sender and receiver. The Japanese have been culturalized over many generations to become skilled at “reading the atmosphere.”

Education can further exacerbate the cultural divide, by moving people more towards the extreme version of their dominant culture. Highly educated Americans are taught and encouraged to communicate more effectively in writing and orally and to take more responsibility for the messages they send. American leaders are typically rewarded for having and implementing the answers within their organizations. On the other hand, Japanese leaders are listening more to what is meant as opposed to what is said. In my informal survey of American and Japanese business people attending a meeting, I find that at least 75% of the words spoken are by the Americans and 25% by the Japanese. The Japanese typically spend more time reflecting and reading body language and other non-verbal clues. When they do speak, it typically includes more clarifying questions. Frequently, my American colleagues have misinterpreted the meaning of a nod, assuming their Japanese counterparts are in agreement. In truth, head nodding is more confirmation of being heard.

In past decades, businesses have relied on preference tests such as Myers Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) as the source of team-building activities to help team members communicate, process ideas, handle data, and make decisions. These business teams were more homogenized in culture, but today’s global business environment demands everyone to be equipped with a new set of skills that embrace diversity in the workplace. Meyer (2014) delves deep into communication and evaluating and also takes the reader through a journey to explore other important cultural attributes. Understanding, respecting, and working with the deep roots of various cultures will forge and strengthen relationships and performance. Culturally diverse teams will continue to populate the business landscape and every leader would benefit from learning more about cultural diversity and its impact on business success.


Meyer, E. (2014). The culture map: Breaking through the invisible boundaries of global business.   New York, NY: Published Affairs. ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a business and life coach with an extensive background in business development and leadership. She partners with clients to help them develop and grow successful businesses. She also works with individuals to create their life plans and build better relationships by identifying and living out their personal values, enhancing their skills and competencies, and holding them accountable to execute their defined goals. Sandra welcomes comments, questions, and feedback at

Has your DE&I Achieved Belonging?

First there was Diversity (D) with affirmative action, then Inclusion (I) was added to the equation and more recently Equity (E). With DE&I at the forefront of current political and social action, where does this initiative go next? How do we measure the outcomes? How do we know when we’ve reached the goals of DE&I?

As a part-time consultant with ALULA, my kudos go to these leaders who are taking DE&I to the next level—belonging (B). With the launch of their intranet site UBelong, ALULA has tapped into an important fourth variable or at least the ultimate measurement of what DE&I set out to accomplish.

Why is belonging an important part of the DE&I equation? Because it taps into an important motivation that explains why people do what they do. Belonging represents how people feel—a powerful element—about being in connection with a company, colleagues, a cause, or community, and in general with each other.

Diversity represents a number, equity measures distribution, inclusion focuses on the behavior, and belonging describes the feeling. Companies can be committed to diversity in hiring and promotion, allocate training and services to those who need them most, and practice inclusive behaviors and yet still miss the mark on creating a deep sense of community. Inclusion can positively influence belonging no doubt but doesn’t guarantee it. 

Companies tend to shy away from dealing with employees’ feelings. Yes, feelings are real and powerful motivations, and definitely challenging to influence and measure. Yet, if we don’t try to tap into and influence how people feel, we won’t be taking DE&I as far as it can go.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life story. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Self-Confidence: The Unintended Consequences of the Helicopter Parent

The best parents have the best intentions for their children, but in today’s times, many are unaware of the unintended consequences of their decisions that are undermining their children to grow into productive and fulfilled adults. As a life and marriage coach to parents, who are struggling with parenting of younger children, I’m seeing a disturbing trend—late teenagers and young adults with low self-concept and confidence in their abilities to “adult”. With all the attention on how to help your child have high self-esteem, how come there’s such a high degree of young adults by their own admission who don’t have it? I have a human behaviorist theory that I’ve tested in my coaching practice. Parents who’ve implemented it have had success when started early enough in a child’s life.

The Self-Esteem/Self-Confidence Problem

Parents want good things for their children, and in the process, have typically become what most would label the “helicopter” parent. The helicopter parent makes sure to give their child everything they can afford, clears the struggle from their child’s life, and heaven forbid, when their child makes a mistake, swoops in to “save the day”. They shield their child in how the real world operates and the negative consequences of their child’s poor decisions. They make their child’s life as comfortable as possible, under the rationale that they want their child to have it better than they did.

What these parents may not have self-reflected on is how their struggle helped them learn, grow, and develop resilience to not give up and to find a way through the disappointments and rejections that come with living life. Parents, with the best of intentions, are robbing their children of those teachable experiences that afford their children the opportunity to become masters over their own life by struggling through and finding a way to the other side of their disappointments.

What are the unintended consequences of the “soft” life? These young adults have no self-confidence to work through their problems, because they’ve never had the opportunity to flex and build that muscle. They know they’ll be on their own and feel ill-equipped. They know it’s just a matter of time before they’ll be confronted with a “big” issue, and it’s causing them incredible anxiety. When will the shoe drop?

Compounding the issue is that their low self-confidence makes them unattractive to a partner who has self-esteem and self-confidence. The type of partner they attract is similar in their own struggle. I know that parents don’t want this outcome for their children.

The Solution

As a parent are you questioning whether your parenting style is setting your child up for success? The earlier in your child’s life you can catch yourself in unhealthy parenting decisions, the better the chance of self-correction and getting your child onto a development track that builds resilience and self-confidence.

If your children are older, there’s not much you can do as a parent, other than recommend an intervention. As a life coach, I work with young adults who are trying to move forward from their parenting experiences and get on a healthier adult track. If you’re a parent or a young adult who wants to further explore this topic, reach out for a conversation to discuss how I might be able to help.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life story. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

How to Succeed with People without Trying Too Much

A Leader’s Perspective

Intrigued? Sound a bit counter-intuitive? Because we want to be liked or successful, sometimes we just try too hard with people. And trying usually shows up in selling oneself, which is the opposite of how to succeed with people. There’s a better approach to connect with people and achieve more success in leading them.

Most people focus on making a good first impression, and yes, first impressions pertaining to appearance, body language, and facial expressions are important. However, first impressions extend into those first few words spoken. If you’re like many, when you initially meet someone, especially someone important, you might start talking about yourself, a project, or chat about the safe topics like the weather. Instead, focus on the other person. Be a study of other people and help them FEEL accepted and valued: understood, needed, and affirmed for who they are. When you turn the focus on others, and genuinely engage to talk about themselves, you win a friend, ally, or colleague.

You may not feel skilled at this point in making people the center of attention. I wouldn’t expect you to be if you haven’t practiced it. I only wish these relationship skills were taught in high school or college. If so, we’d all be more prepared when we stepped into the real world. At first, you will likely have to be intentional in how you connect, but don’t worry, with practice, it will become second nature.

Some concepts you need to keep in mind:

  1. People can spot fake. Understand who you are, and if you’re not happy with how you show up, develop and take action in changing your attitudes and behaviors. Always operate within your authentic self.
  2. Build trust across all your relationships. Trust is both the foundation and mortar in every relationship. Trust starts with you, and if it’s an area you’d like to learn how to deepen it, reach out for a conversation. It’s an essential element worth exploring if you need help.
  3. Engage people beyond the surface conversation. People love to talk about themselves, so ask lots of good open-ended questions that stimulate thought, make people laugh, or put people more at ease.
  4. Ask people for advice. People love to be asked what they think and believe as long as they know their response will land on non-judgmental ears.
  5. Find common ground. What do you share in common? You might be interested what you learn when you ask meaningful open-ended questions.
  6. Identify people’s strengths, then find opportunities to leverage those strengths as well as promote them.  

Overall, people are complex, because they are a mixture of core values, personality preference, motivations, and external pressures. However, as human beings we all share the deep desire to FEEL loved and accepted for who we are despite being a work in progress. We acknowledge that not everyone has to like us, but we want to FEEL valued.

When you interact with others, how do you make them FEEL? If you’re a leader, inspiring people is less about logic and more about how you make people FEEL. If you’d like to explore specific situations or relationships, or need a tune-up, schedule a coaching session. I can help.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

What If Diversity & Inclusion Were Verbs…

…and we measured their progress through the lens of how people feel.

Companies are currently wrestling with how to create and weave more diversity and inclusion (D&I) through their organization and into their people operations. Some are jumping right in by establishing D&I task forces, forums, and in some cases, even creating a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) position that sits at the senior leadership table. What will be the outcome of these types of initiatives? Likely varied.

Here are some of the challenges I expect organizations to encounter on their journey to move the needle toward greater organizational diversity and inclusion.

  • Talking the same language: If you ask 10 people what D&I means to them, you’re likely to get 10 different definitions. These definitions are likely to have some overlap, and through discussion you might get a consensus. However, it might be presumptions to suggest that you could ever achieve agreement. How will organizations handle these differences and create a cohesive language?
  • Making it a priority: Sensitivity to this issue is personal. Diversity and inclusion affect each of us in different ways, either directly or indirectly. Someone may be sympathetic or empathetic to a cause but will he or she prioritized it against other competing business objectives? How will organizations keep D&I at the forefront of their missional goals, especially early in the journey when it takes a lot of energy to “figure it out” and align the organization?
  • Expanding employee self-awareness: Companies are a collection of individuals who come with their own personal worldviews, mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors regarding diversity and inclusion. On a continuum, employees are all over the line on their self-awareness to their biases. How will organizations help their employees expand their self-awareness on this issue?
  • Measuring performance: Companies prefer to measure performance using objective criteria. How much? How many? Hitting it out of the ballpark on diversity doesn’t necessarily guarantee a more inclusive culture. Companies can meet their diversity numbers and still have cultural silos and employees who feel alienated. How will companies measure inclusion—the ultimate goal—as opposed to diversity?

If you were sitting in the CDO position, what steps might you take? I’d consider:  

  • Open the conversation up to your entire organization and welcome their feedback on what diversity and inclusion means to them.
  • People learn through story telling. Let people tell their stories of exclusion and inclusion so others can learn.You might get some surprising answers through their stories.
  • Define inclusive behaviors and then recognize and reward them, so employees make those behaviors a priority. There’s truth in the statement: you get what you reward.
  • Ask people what they are comfortable committing to that helps advance inclusion. The more people talk and intentionally act upon on issue, the more their self-awareness expands
  • Refrain from defining metrics solely on hard objective numbers. When people are asked to share their stories of D&I, they’re more likely to share of exclusion, because of the pain they felt. Develop metrics that measure improvement on how people feel.

Personally speaking, I believe organizations will have greater success if they treat diversity and inclusion not as a program, process, or statistic. I believe the most successful companies will embrace D&I as a verb. For those who’ve read The 5 Love Languages, the message is that love is not a noun but a verb. Love is action, and diversity and inclusion should also be if we’re to move the needle.

About the Author:Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Thank You for Practicing Social Gratitude


COVID-19 has given some of us a gift—a gift we’ve been asking for—and now that we have it, we don’t know what to do with it. What gift is that? The gift of time. Although this gift comes with some limitations—keep your seat-belt fastened and refrain from walking freely about the cabin—nevertheless, it’s a gift. We’ve gained hours back in our day, because we no longer commute to work, the gym, or after-hour activities. We don’t have to taxi our kids around to school and their extra-circular activities. Some of us, unfortunately, have no productive work, because we’ve been furloughed, laid off, and executive orders have closed most small businesses.

How are you going to enjoy or use your time, or better asked, how are you going to enjoy using it? Will you call and connect with old friends? Play board games with your family? Take an online course to improve a skill? Or try out some new recipes in the kitchen?


While you’re practicing physical distancing, don’t waste this valuable time. What’s on your “enjoy” list? Hopefully there are a few things that focus on serving others. One of my favorites is handwriting [or printing in the case of the younger generations] a letter to friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, charities, and ministry partners to express your gratitude for them and what they do. Share what you value most in them, their contributions, and their friendship.

Physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing. In fact, I suggest we practice social gratitude. Although you can call and tell them over the phone how you feel, there’s nothing more heart-warming than to receive a handwritten letter you can re-read again and again. Written words have sustaining affirmation.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Teamwork: Know, Share, and Leverage the Power of Personality

you-x-ventures-Oalh2MojUuk-unsplashHave you ever wondered why someone did, decide, or say something you won’t have? Personality has a tremendous influence on how we take in data, process it, draw conclusions and interact with our world. When you understand the power of personality, you will have greater insights into how you and others think, decide, and do.

campaign-creators-gMsnXqILjp4-unsplashI encourage everyone to explore their natural tendencies through the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment and find out which personality type best describes him or her. There are 16 primary types that explain why people tend to think and behave the way they do.

ESFP: Enthusiastic Improviser

ISFJ: Practical Helper

ESTP: Energetic Problem-solver

INFJ: Insightful Visionary

ENTP: Enterprising Explorer

ISTJ: Responsible Realist

ESFJ: Supporter Contributor

ISFP: Versatile Supporter

ENFJ: Compassionate Facilitator

INTP: Objective Analyst

ENFP: Imaginative Motivator

INTJ: Conceptual Planner

ESTJ: Efficient Organizer

INFP: Thoughtful Idealist

ENTJ: Decisive Strategist

ISTP: Logical Pragmatist

Regardless of your personality preferences, you have a choice to act in ways you believe will help you succeed in any relationship and environment. Yet, without stress or external influences, we all have a natural way of expressing ourselves.

nesa-by-makers-kwzWjTnDPLk-unsplashNo personality type is better or worse, because they all bring value to solving problems and growing a business. If each team member understands who they are and others on their team, they can intentionally leverage the power of personality to win. If you want to bring the power of Myers-Briggs to your office, let’s discuss a workshop that can unleash the power of personality among your teams.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Healthy Marriages Make for Good Business

annie-spratt-wgivdx9dBdQ-unsplashThere’s an old saying: if momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy. If you applied this concept in the workplace, you might say if a spouse isn’t happy, their boss and colleagues may not be happy. Would you agree? If you’re married or ever been in a serious relationship, think about how productive you were the day after a fight or disagreement? Have you ever suffered from chronic marriage fatigue and realized how it sapped your energy at work? Now think about the times when your marriage or relationships were on cloud nine. I bet you did some of your best work: fast, efficient, and high quality. You probably even got more praise and positive feedback from your boss and colleagues.

Productivity Stats

Marital and relationship problems divide employees’ attention, because it’s hard to focus on work when your marriage isn’t well (Patrick, 2019). Bowcott (2015) found that 9% of employees left their job because of a divorce or separation, and 15% of survey respondents said separation and divorce negatively impacted productivity. On the other hand, studies show that increased happiness on the job translates into upwards of 20% higher productivity (Addady, 2015), and strong marriages do just that—contribute to employees’ happiness.

The Missing Piece: Social Wellness Program

Employers commonly provide for their employees’ well-being by offering them health insurance, so they can get the treatment they need and get back to work quickly. Companies also encourage employees to take advantage of preventative health initiatives, and some even offer free or discounted gym memberships as part of promoting wellness. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are more common for those employees who need support for a personal crisis. Why do companies offer these services? Because it makes good business sense. Get employees the help they need, so they can be more productive.

Perhaps it’s been you or someone you know who’s been physically present in the office but mentally checked out or at best distracted. What’s got the employee mentally consumed? Troubles with a partner relationship? If companies are financially motivated to help employees be more productive, what’s missing from the equation? I propose a social wellness program (SWP). Companies could improve their bottom line by offering their employees coaching services to strengthen specific areas of life. A SWP could act like an EAP plan, where employees get a maximum number of coaching sessions per year.

“It’s just good business for a company to offer marriage or relationship coaching for its employees.” — Sandra Dillon

The Case for Coaching

Happier marriages mean more productive employees. How do I support this claim? By the research and my own client stories. As a business coach, I’ve worked with a number of clients on work-related performance goals, which later led into marriage coaching with the coachee and his or her spouse. Having coached these couples on marriage visioning, missioning, personality and gender preferences, financial stewardship, love/respect, communication, and conflict resolution, I’ve seen firsthand how a stronger and happier marriage has translated into higher job performance and career development.

Let’s be clear—coaching isn’t counseling. Counseling is covered by your health insurance or EAP. Coaching on the other hand allows people to help themselves and their marriages.

Next Steps

If you have the responsibility and accountability to help your employees, will you offer marriage coaching to your team? If you’re a small business owner, will you pay for a few marriage coaching sessions, so your employees can be more productive? It’s just makes good business sense!

If you’re an individual who doesn’t have employee access to coaching, will you find a coach who can help you strengthen your marriage? Ultimately, we are all 100% responsible for 50% of any relationship, and the responsibility to do better resides within each one of us.


Addady, M. (2015). Study: Being happy at work really makes you more productive. Retrieved from

Bowcott, O. (2014). Relationship breakdowns have negative impact on business. productivity. Retrieved from

Patrick, M. (2019). Top problems that affect employee productivity. Retrieved from

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, business consulting, and marriage coaching. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting


Self-Confidence: Its Source And How To Grow It

While facilitating one of my Building Better Relationships workshops, an attendee asked me, “How can I give my girlfriend the self-confidence she needs?” Depression or mental illness was not a factor—just low self-confidence, which had supposedly manifested in her not expressing what she wanted, arguments, silent treatment when she didn’t get her way, a general feeling of discontent, and lack of action toward going for what she wanted in life. My reply was, “You can’t give your girlfriend self-confidence. She has to earn it for herself.” (1)Self Confidence

What is Self-Confidence?

Self-confidence is the realistic, positive belief that you can influence your world—that you have the abilities, personal power, and judgment to overcome obstacles and get what you want in life. You’re not immune to occasional fears, doubts, and failure, but overall you trust yourself and what you can do!

Self-confidence can only be developed and sourced from within. No amount of participation trophies, positive words, or kind gestures can build self-confidence, because these are only externally applied props. These supports can be cheerleading tools and enjoyable rewards, but are not substitutes for hard work and sacrifice.

You can’t ask, beg, or pay any one any amount of money to do the hard work that it takes to build your self-confidence. What spouses, partners, friends, and family can do is be supportive by providing encouragement, brainstorming, and feedback which is akin to helping a person help himself. You’ve likely heard the expression—do with and not for.

How to Grow Self-Confidence

The only times I’ve seen self-confidence grow in adults is when they attacked challenges head-on, worked hard, worked smart, and never gave up on improving themselves and their situations. When they hit a wall, instead of turning around and giving up, they instead figured out a plan of approach to get to the other side. They found a way of either digging under it, blasting through it, crawling over it, or stepping around it.

When you get to the other side of the wall, look over your shoulder, and can honestly say to yourself, “I did that,” that is the point when your self-confidence climbs another rung on the ladder. Self-confidence increases when you put your heart, mind, and soul towards something and accomplish it, proving to yourself you can get to the other side of the wall.

Role of Family and Friends in Building Self-Confidence

When spouses, parents, and friends do for you what you should be doing for yourself, they are robbing you of the opportunity to grow your self-confidence. When they rescue you from the consequences of your decisions or actions, they’re again robbing you of a teaching opportunity that can grow you. They may not be stealing a piece of you, but they are starving you of what it means to be a fully functioning, resilient, and ultimately happy individual.

The next time someone wants to bail you out or do something you know you should be doing, I would suggest you say, “No thanks. I can do it, but I sure wish you’d keep checking in on me. I may need your support, and this is what support looks like…”

(1) Men as well suffer from poor self-confidence.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, life, and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her at

Business Trust: Its Importance, Value, and How to Build It

Trust 1In leadership circles, it’s well known that to move people from where they stand today to a better place of tomorrow, a leader not only has to paint a compelling vision of the future but must also convince them that standing in their current comfort zone is unacceptable. If you agree with this concept, you may be asking how does this apply in building organizational trust. I’ve heard managers and functional leadership agree they “want more trust,” then make decisions and act in ways that show their employees they don’t value trust. They’re not uncomfortable enough with the level of distrust operating under their leadership. Why? Perhaps, they haven’t suffered from or come to appreciate the magnitude that distrust has in undermining their business’s vision, mission, and goals.

Why Trust Is So Important

Without trust, you can’t build anything of sustainable value. Since trust is the foundation on which business relationships are set, creating trust should be a business’s number one priority. Without trust operating throughout its culture, a business is vulnerable to silo-ed decision-making, information hoarding, and higher employee and customer turnover to name a few. These behaviors directly increase costs and slow down response time. Employees, customers, and suppliers come to realize that for someone to win, another must lose, so everyone makes decisions to protect their position.

After food, water, clothing, and shelter, Maslow’s second hierarchy of human need is safety (security). In business, colleagues, customers, and suppliers first seek to answer the question, “Can I trust you?” If someone can’t affirmatively respond, a healthy relationship won’t develop.

When enough people on a team feel they can’t trust one another, the culture becomes distrustful and then toxic. Interactions become finely crafted dances to ensure that neither is hurt in the process. The energy of the organization goes into managing distrust as opposed to creating value and meeting goals.

Why Trust Is So Valuable

In a trusting business culture, people feel connected. They know that for someone to win, somebody else doesn’t have to lose. They’re a team working collaboratively with transparency and driving on their individual strengths. When people feel respected and appreciated, they go the extra mile. They don’t hoard information like a distrusting culture where information is power. A collaborative culture achieves increased creativity and problem-solving, resulting in more satisfied customers and profits to the bottom line.

How To Build Trust

Some think building trust is treating people well, forgiving mistakes, and giving lots of praise. Not exactly. Although these behaviors exist in cultures of trust, Brown (2017) describes specific elements that must be consistently practiced and reciprocated over time to build trust.

  • Boundaries: Communicating and honoring clear expectations
  • Reliability: Doing what you say you will do again and again [Note: It’s important to understand your limitations and not over-commit]
  • Accountability: Making a mistake, owning it, apologizing, and making amends
  • Confidence: Not sharing with others what is shared in confidence
  • Integrity: Practicing, and not just professing values, in which you may have to choose courage over your comfort or right over fun, fast, and easy
  • Non-judgment: Helping when another falters and being vulnerable to ask for help when needed [Note: One-sided help sets the giver up to feel superior over time]
  • Generosity: Believing in good intentions when the behavior is a mistake

Do People Trust Me?

This is one of the most difficult questions in which to get an honest answer, because if you have trust, people will say yes, and if you don’t have trust, people will still say yes for fear of repercussions. Because of anonymity with individual finger-pointing, it’s easier to get an honest answer by asking the question, “On a scale of 1-10, how much does trust operate within this company?”

If you’re a leader challenged with growing trust within your business culture, I suggest two approaches:

  • Honestly answer for yourself how much capacity you have to trust others. You can’t give what you don’t have. Work on improving your own insecurities and behaviors regarding trust.
  • Know what behaviors garnish trust and hold yourself and others accountable to make the right decisions and lead with those behaviors.

Changing culture is possible, and it takes time, patience, and thoughtful words and actions. You must trust the process that will take you from where you stand today to a more trustworthy culture of the future.


Brown, B. (2017). Super Soul Sessions Video: The Anatomy of Trust. Retrieved from

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at