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When  leaders bust trust, employees play games. I don’t mean board games or a tennis match. I mean the games employees play at work.

In my first job out of college, my boss was simply intolerable. In retrospect, I can’t blame him for being the way he was. He was placed in a leadership role, but was never meant to be a leader. He was insecure, abusive and lazy. He was also a liar. I frequently reminded him that if he didn’t lie, he never had to remember what he said. He chose not to listen. He assumed that all he had to do to be a good leader was to pay his employees well, and the other “stuff” would work itself out. But it didn’t.

“Game playing” became the office norm. These were some of the favorites:

  1. Calling in sick on Fridays and often on Mondays
  2. Every last minute of the hour-long lunch break was taken, and often more
  3. The water cooler was the most popular spot in the office
  4. Friday couldn’t come fast enough
  5. 9AM turned into 9:30 and 4:30 became the new 5PM
  6. Minimal effort was exerted
  7. Many of us treated our clients the same way we were treated
  8. People quit without notice
  9. Hours were spent on personal phone calls
  10. Throwing other employees under the bus was all too common

Through observation, I once calculated that the average employee spent less than 3 hours each day actually working.

Any of the above sound familiar?

This week leadership expert Tom Peters asked the following:

Do you absolutely understand and act upon the fact that the first-line boss is the…KEY LEADERSHIP ROLE…in the organization?

Employees take their cues from their leader. We certainly did. If you want to avoid game playing in your organization, act like a trustworthy leader simply by being a VIP role model (values, integrity, promises kept.)


Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

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Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.


Have a question? Feel free to contact me: barbara@trustacrossamerica.com









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2 Responses to “The Games Employees Play When Leaders Bust Trust”

  1. August 14th, 2014 at 02:00 | #1

    Yes Barbara, I’ve seen that behavior, too. Definitively, the leader’s behavior sets the tone of an organization’s culture.

  2. August 14th, 2014 at 07:43 | #2

    Rosana- thank you for taking the time to comment. Unfortunately, too many of us have seen that behavior! Barbara

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