David Seltzer’s Trustworthiness Is A Competitive Advantage
“David Seltzer is another trustworthy leader for whom I have great respect. David is the managing partner of Management 360, an LA-based artist and literary management company. In an industry often characterized by questionable dealings, loose lips, and a pronounced lack of ethics, the folks at Management 360 have made integrity one of their key competitive advantages. David is extraordinarily discreet; I’ve known and worked with him for a number of years, and he has never once revealed to me a single piece of information about any of his celebrity clients. He doesn’t even drop seemingly harmless pieces of intel about who’s he’s traveling to support or meet with, information that could make him look cool but might possibly compromise his clients’ privacy.
He also has high standards of discretion internally; if one of his colleagues tells him something in confidence – it stays confidential. I’ve noticed how his colleagues, most of whom have worked with him for many years, rely on his discretion; they share sensitive topics with him without hesitation. They feel safe to do so.
As with the first two elements of trustworthiness, when leaders keep confidences, it creates an atmosphere of safety and calm; people are more likely to be able to focus on doing the work, as opposed to figuring out how to protect themselves from the leaders’ indiscretion.”
— From Chapter 8 of Leading So People Will Follow
I really like working with David: I feel completely confident that he will always tell me the truth as he understands it. Over the past few months, I’ve been talking with David and one of his colleagues about some work we may be doing with their partners. It’s a huge relief knowing that if he commits to doing this work, it will happen. And if he doesn’t think it’s a good idea, he’ll tell me why, and it won’t happen.
I suspect that he deals with his clients in the same way (I don’t know for sure, because as I noted above, he never talks about them!) Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a mega-popular Hollywood artist, and every day most of the people you deal with suck up to you and tell you what they think you want to hear. Let’s say you’re not the kind of person who wants that; let’s pretend that you actually long for the people around you to be supportive and helpful without being sycophants. That you want people to be reasonably straight with you. How refreshing and reassuring would it be to have someone like David as your manager? Someone who would be willing to say “I don’t know if that’s a good script for you” or “I’m not sure that would be a great career move.” And if that person, as your manager, said, “This project is just what you need” – even if you disagreed, how great would it be to know that it was exactly what he or she believed, vs. what he or she thought was politically expedient?
As I noted above, I see David’s ethical approach, and that of his partners, as a huge competitive advantage for them. Especially when your industry doesn’t have a great reputation for trustworthiness (think Hollywood, car sales, insurance, diet and exercise, etc.) if you’re seen as the trustworthy provider, your starting point is miles ahead of the competition.
And trustworthiness has the same impact internally: if you, as the leader, have a reputation for straight dealing, discretion and delivering on your promises, it’s reassuring and comforting to your team in the same way.
Having the opportunity to work with leaders like Pat Langer and David Seltzer has really reinforced for me that trustworthiness isn’t only a moral imperative – it’s a powerful business driver.