Among the biggest challenges for corporate leaders is to establish trust. It’s not difficult to understand why. Most management positions are filled by the person most successful in a non-managerial role, not the person who exhibits the most leadership potential. Unsure of what to do or how to behave, they emulate their superiors, most of whom got their role the same way.
The default mode of the worst bosses turns people off. Many are unwilling to admit what they don’t know and often act on impulse. They lack empathy, often expressing the attitude that “if you can’t do it, I’ll find someone who can.” In short, they make excuses for their own failures but accept none from their subordinates.
Further, they lack transparency. Coached to play their cards close to the vest or, perhaps, unwilling to admit their own failings, they don’t let their teams know what’s going on
Does my description fit your experience? It’s pretty common, right?
“Trust is a multiplier. People who don’t think they are trusted will do no more than required. The more they do, the more exposed they feel. It’s better for them to keep their heads down – to stay out of the line of fire. They will do what you ask of them and very little more.”Excerpt From: John Calia. “The Reluctant CEO.” iBooks.
So, what should you do about it? Well, if you’re a front-line worker, there’s not much you can do unless your employer has set up a mechanism for you and your co-workers to provide feedback. On the other hand, if you’re a senior member of the management team or your company’s CEO, there’s plenty you can do.
First, you must recognize that your behavior filters down to those below you on the corporate ladder. It’s often said that culture starts at the top and that’s because it does. And, culture results not from what you say but rather from what you do. So, here’s what you should do.
Be authentic! Tired of that word? Yeah, me too. However, whichever of its synonyms we choose, my message is the same. Be true to yourself when dealing with your staff. People can spot a phony a mile away. So, be authentic… tell the truth even if the truth is that you are responsible for some failure or that you are unsure how to proceed.
Next, you must create a “No Excuse” environment. Set an example by living and leading as one who accepts that you are the cause of everything good or bad in your life. You are not a victim. Neither are they. (See “
In that context, you must understand that your role is to provide your team with the resources and support necessary to do their jobs well. How else can you hold them accountable for results?
Finally, you must commit to something larger than yourself and ask your team to do the same. It may be to achieve the company’s mission or perhaps to connect with the ways in which your product or service improves people’s lives. Better yet, focus on the ways in which you and your team can improve each other’s lives at work and at home. Ask yourselves how you can do the same for your colleagues. That behavior will spread like a virus.
“People who feel trusted will deploy all their talents. They will allow themselves to be creative. They’ll think of things you never thought of. They’ll make things happen that you haven’t asked them to do.”Excerpt From: John Calia. “The Reluctant CEO.” iBooks.
Of course, it’s easier to say these things and to buy into them than it is to figure out how to do them. Often we need training or coaching in the soft skills of leadership, which require that we find the right balance between demanding results and having compassion for those who work for us. (Full disclosure: I coach executives for a living.)
Even in the absence of those resources, anyone with the requisite amount of self-awareness can improve the level of trust they engender. It doesn’t work any differently on the job than it does in real life. It does, however, require a degree of focus and a consistent effort.
So, get started. Yesterday, you said tomorrow.
“Trust multiplies the team’s capacity to get things done.”Excerpt From: John Calia. “The Reluctant CEO.” iBooks.