The Courage to Create Community

Expanded 2nd Edition Now on Sale!

Tony’s short book on building community is now available
with an extra chapter and a guide to additional resources.

The Courage to Be in Community Expanded 2nd Edition

The new chapter is a simple, practical guide to building better relationships at work and at home. The focus of the book is the importance of compassion and authenticity, while this new section is all about implementation, with specific advice on how to be compassionate and authentic in your day-to-day life.

This expanded edition also includes links to recommended books and articles for further study and practice.

Click here to “Look Inside” & see a sample on Amazon.

➤ Paperback , hardcover, and Kindle available on Amazon!

➤ Paperback and hard cover available on Barnes and Noble!


iTunes Spoken word version available on Audible

Audio version read by Tony Mayo also available.

 To hear a sample click here for Audible or iTunes.




Poor Morals or Poorly Managed?



As I discussed in my popular article, Truth or Consequences: Beyond the Punishment Model, employers are too quick to act like cops with the result that employees respond like criminals. Here is more support for my advice, this time from a rigorous study of new restaurant software. Instead of using the software mainly to fire workers suspected of theft, all employees were made aware that the software was looking for misbehavior. The results were positive and–to those not familiar with my approach–surprising.

The same people who are stealing from you can be set up to succeed.

–Prof. Lamar Pierce
Washington University

“The savings from the [monitoring software’s] theft alerts themselves were modest, $108 a week per restaurant. However, after installing the monitoring software, the revenue per restaurant increased by an average of $2,982 a week, or about 7 percent.

“The impact, the researchers say, came not from firing workers engaged in theft, but mostly from their changed behavior. Knowing they were being monitored, the servers not only pulled back on any unethical practices, but also channeled their efforts into, say, prompting customers to have that dessert or a second beer, raising revenue for the restaurant and tips for themselves.”


How Surveillance Changes Behavior:
A Restaurant Workers Case Study
The New York Times



Get smarter by asking “dumb” questions

Mine was the Depression generation of journalists. Many of the best people were not educated. When I went to London as a sportswriter, I didn’t even know the difference between the Baltic states and the Balkans. But I learned the advantage of the dumb-boy technique. I found that people love to talk about themselves. You get more news by trust than by tricks.

But that is not a very popular idea with this generation. Because they went to college, they think that they know more than the guys who run the joint, and that’s a pretense that doesn’t work. Also they like big shots. I always felt that the way to gather news in Washington is at the periphery not at the center. You get it from the people who tell the big shots what to say.


James Reston
interviewed by Alvin P. Sanoff
US News and World Report


What Trust Is

5 Types of Trust


Trust is increasingly recognized as an essential element of successful personal relationships, effective teamwork, and large-scale commercial relationships. The amount citizens of one country trust the residents of another has even been shown to correlate with the amount of trade between the countries.

Evaluating the level of trust in a relationship is an often evaded and sometimes sensitive task. My work coaching top executives and facilitating work groups has taught me that the “trust topic” is much easier to discuss once we realize that trust has at least five constitutive components. Examining each aspect of trust, one by one, leads us to better judgments and more fruitful conversations.


  1. Sincerity
  2. Capacity
  3. Competence
  4. Consistency
  5. Care


When we say that we trust or mistrust a person it means that we have evaluated their:

1. Sincerity — Does what the person says match their internal conversation? Are they telling us what they honestly believe and truly intend? Once a person establishes a reputation for (more…)

The asymmetry of give and take



Boaz Keysar

The Great Recession has led many of my executive coaching clients to reduce 401(k) contributions, celebrations, work hours (through furloughs), and cut other employee perqs. These leaders often explain the reductions as prudent adjustments to avoid layoffs. Employees, unfortunately, are likely to react by becoming less trusting and cooperative with their employers, as this new research illustrates.


Although people reciprocate kindnesses proportionately, slings and arrows prompt bullets and grenades.


By Laura Putre


“Even something that is not so strong as a vindictive action—something simply perceived as a negative act,” [Professor Boaz] Keysar says, “escalates quickly.”

The researchers paired up participants for several games of give and take. In one a designated leader decided how much of $100 to give to a partner. In another, leaders decided how much of $100 to take from their partners. … Subjects in the study also consistently reacted better to receiving something than to having it taken from them, even when the gift left them with less money, say $30 instead of $50.

Leaders, however, thought they were being fair … “They did not anticipate,” Keysar says, “that the other person was going to perceive them as doing something negative.” What’s more, he discovered that as the game wore on, each successive round saw partners grabbing more and more as they alternated the taking role. Perceiving the takers as selfish, the participants became less generous.

How to avoid the retribution? This paper doesn’t say. Other research suggests laying out the facts for employees and letting them design the adjustments. People are much more supportive of changes they have helped create.



See also, on this blog, step-by-step conversation instructions with video here:
The Conversation Contract.



It pays to trust your employees



Study indicates that employees who are trusted by managers do better work and are more loyal to their employer.

Journal of Management



A Closer Look at Trust Between Managers and Subordinates: Understanding the Effects of Both Trusting and Being Trusted on Subordinate Outcomes

The authors propose that trust in the subordinate has unique consequences beyond trust in the manager. Furthermore, they propose joint effects of trust such that subordinate behavior and intentions are most favorable when there is high mutual trust. Findings reveal unique (more…)

Leadership in a True Emergency

Lippold of the USS Cole

At Accelerent, I was lucky to meet the commander of the USS Cole and hear his story of the day his destroyer was nearly sunk by al-Qaeda. Kirk Lippold made clear that his ship was saved mostly because of how he led and trained his crew in the years prior to the attack, rather than by any dramatic decisions or heroics on October 12, 2000.

His “Five Pillars of Leadership” are:


• Vision

• Personal Responsibility and Accountability

• Trust and Invest

• Professional Competence

He gave a thrilling and informative presentation. I particularly thanked him for illustrating the masterful use of chain of command, maximizing his impact as a leader by improving his officers rather than continually reaching down to personally resolve specific issues.

Click for larger image

The Navy, unfortunately, tends to be rather unforgiving of officers whose ships are damaged so Kirk Lippold never made Captain. The military’s loss is our gain as he tours the country sharing his leadership lessons.

Self-Inflicted Wounds

Dan Wertenberg

Business owners all seem to be very busy and over-worked. For most of them, the reason is that most of what they are doing is just creating more things that have to be done, instead of making the business more successful.

Want more time to relax? Stop trying to fix everything.

Dan Wertenberg
Serial CEO and Vistage Speaker



The human immune system is a wondrous mechanism. It detects and destroys invading bacteria, viruses, and debris. It is vigilant 24×7 and extends into every tiny and obscure part of our body. Our immune system is adaptable to changing threats because it learns from and emerges stronger from many infections. A fantastic model for an executive to learn from as she designs monitoring and control systems in a business.

The immune system has a flaw that may also be instructive for managers. It can (more…)

Conversations that Make a Difference

Click to Download a .PDF version
Click to Download a .PDF version

Here is my 12 Step Program for conducting a difficult, stressful, or frightening conversation in a way that will create new possibilities for relationship and action.

  1. Get yourself centered.
  2. Make sure the other person is willing to talk. Use my Conversation Contract™.
  3. Help the other person feel safe. “We’re friends and colleagues now and we’ll still be friends and colleagues after this conversation.” Easy on the relationship, rigorous on the topic.
  4. Get a firm agreement on facts before delving into opinions. Be conscientious about distinguishing facts from opinions. “The client reported several misspellings in the report,” is a fact. “Your work is sloppy,” is an opinion.
  5. Remember, seek first to understand, then to be understood, is Covey’s fifth habit.
    Listen before you speak. Encouraging the other person to talk first is also a way to get his or her concerns out of his or her head to make room in there for what you have to say.
    Ask questions to clarify how it looks to him or her. Stop behaving as though you know what they think; be genuinely curious.
    Repeat key points back to him or her to show that you are listening and to verify that you have heard correctly. You do not need to agree with the person’s point of view, but it is helpful to let him or her know you understand and you accept that he or she sees that way right now.
  6. Take responsibility for your own reactions.
    It is not responsible to assert, “You are forcing me to double-check all of your reports.” It is more useful to explain, “When I hear a client complain I feel obligated to double-check all of your reports.” See the difference? The first is the voice of a victim making an accusation, one who has reached a firm conclusion about the location of the problem: it’s the other guy. The second is a person making a choice on limited information, one who is eager to consider alternatives.

    The simple shortcut from victim to choice is to start sentences with “I” rather than “you.”

  7. Establish the level of trust: sincerity, capacity, competence, consistency, and care. “I know that you can see when a project is suffering from scope creep and that you will let me know about it.”
  8. Explicitly agree on the shared commitment or values e.g., “We both want to preserve the company’s reputation with clients and develop the next generation of project managers”
  9. Point-out what you see as missing or not working. Reach an agreement on the facts of the situation and its threat to our shared commitment.
  10. Explore and create together possible actions to move closer to circumstances consistent with your shared values. Don’t get stuck on your favorite course of action. It is not a solution until both sides take action to make it work.
  11. Make requests and promises.
  12. Establish a structure of accountability for monitoring the agreed actions.

These steps are in sequence, like bricks in a wall. If you are having trouble completing a step, return to the previous step. That is, if you cannot agree on the relevant shared values, talk about trust. If you cannot talk about trust, talk about safety. If you cannot talk about safety, get in touch with your center. Get centered even if you need to take a break and leave the room.

See also, on this blog, step-by-step conversation instructions with video here:
The Conversation Contract.

Good advice from David Brooks via
The New York Times, Kindness is a Skill

See also on this blog, The 3 Rs of Dispute Resolution.

Gifted Group Leader

Dr. Bruce Kehr

As CEO of a publicly held company, and as a psychiatrist who is a member of his Vistage group, I hold Tony in the highest regard regarding his talents as a group leader. His intellect, background, and experience keenly enhance the group experience, but more than that he has established a deep feeling of commitment and trust among our group members, which is rare.

Tony is truly gifted as a group leader.

–Dr. Bruce Kehr