EP 58 – Mary Balistreri – How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results

Mary Balistreri is the Business Development and Leadership Coach at Quarles and Brady. She coaches attorneys both in groups and individually to develop action plans and strategies to in turn develop business. Mary focuses on discovering tactics to help individuals grow to their full potential. She is also certified in Conversational Intelligence. If you are interested in getting in contact with Mary, you can reach out via LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/marybalistreri/

The Importance of Trust in Conversations and Relationships

Trust does not just happen automatically. Not only is it important to check in with the mindset of the person you may be meeting with, but it is also important to check your own mindset before entering into that conversation. If you receive bad news before walking into a meeting with someone else, it may cause you to be closed off or resistant because your mind is thinking about something else. That will read to the person that you are talking to and could ultimately have a huge impact on what they hear from you. Trust cannot be rushed as you come into a situation. Find ways to empty your mind of all the things going on in there before you get into a difficult conversation or have to lead your team. We do not take time for ourselves to do this because we are often running from one thing to the next. Stop yourself to fix your mindset to be open when you go into each meeting. This is very important to business development just as it is important to leadership and really in any situation interacting with somebody.

The majority of things are all about trust. It is also easy to lose trust, especially in a working environment. Not everybody is going to be trustworthy. Trust is built based on actions so saying what you are going to do and then doing what you said that you were going to do are very important. Trust is also a basis for so many relationships. In the legal world, you want to be the trusted advisor for your clients and be the person that cares about them and gives them the insights that they need, but you also have to be transparent and notify them if things are not going well.

Understanding Communication Styles and the 80-20 Rule

There is a communications style test, similar to Meyers-Briggs but it does not have as many things going into a specific personality trait, instead, it is a communication style and uses the ISFT. There are 4 communication styles – Intuiter which is someone who is all about ideas; Sensor describes someone who is all about results and is very fast-moving and likes to communicate in bullet points; Feelers are those who are all about relationships, and; Thinker is someone who is all about the process. What do you need to do to have a conversation with someone that might not be in the same category as you might be? It is still a responsibility of leaders to have high-level conversations with their team to make their team want to produce. Spend some time asking questions and gain an understanding of who you are talking with when you are having the conversation so that you can adjust your style to that person as well. This is a soft skill that attorneys need to learn because they need to work with clients and develop those relationships with their clients.

People want to be listened to. This goes back to the principle of the 80-20 rule which is in a conversation, you should only be speaking 20% of the time and letting the other person (client, prospect, or whomever) speak the other 80%. The way that you do this is by asking questions and then listening for their answers. You may ask an open-ended question and get an answer from the client that sounds like a need – ask an additional question for clarity and that breath of what you discover is so much broader and larger and can lead to a stronger relationship with the client. At the end of the day, that is what drives business, but it is also what drives us in our lives to develop relationships with people.

Assumptions and Judgement vs Discovering Intent

When your mind is in that state when you are not trusting, everything that the other person says will be heard with that filter applied to it. Use language that is less accusatory and more open. Open up the other person by allowing them to talk about what the reality was for them. So often, we make judgments in our minds about what the reality is, and when we ask someone and wait for them to talk about it, we find out that wasn’t it at all. We put things onto ourselves and give things more meaning than they may have.

People cannot read intent, so there could be all kinds of different intent on the side of the person who’s trust was lost. If you assume intent, that is where the mistake might be. Sit down and ask the person what was going on and hear from their plan and allow them to offset what the intent was. Go in first without any assumptions or putting people in different categories. Have a conversation rather than giving a questionnaire. Ask a couple of questions to each individual to get a sense of their engagement and commitment, their likes and dislikes, and what their motivation is. Everybody has the capability to improve themselves.

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