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A Leader’s T.R.U.S.T.; How to Build a Culture of Trust as a Leader!

TRUST, what a heavy word and foundational building block of any great relationship… professionally or personally. I’ve had the honor of meeting leaders of organizations all around the world and one of my opening question is always, “What would you like to get out of bringing someone like me in?”. They share their concerns, pain-points, and we customize best ways to move forward to positively impact and add value to their leaders, teams, and employees. During the latter portion of this process… something special happens! When I meet with the more Front-Line employees, they have their own take on things and their frustration usually boils down to a lack of trust… either with their co-workers, their leaders, the organization, or all of the above.

There are hundreds of ways trust can be broken or damaged and over time the damage can compound; causing irreversible damage to professional relationships or careers. Not following through with raises, bonuses, promotions, meetings, not keeping your word, playing favorites, I could go on but it’d be a book all of its own! So, how to create trust, enhance your Leadership & Work/Life Harmony, and that of your people all at the same time?

 

T. – Table Personal Expectations

This is a tricky start; as it involves us… as people and as leaders… to be mindful and uphold our professional expectations, at the same time tabling our personal expectations. What’s the difference? Your professional expectation is the Vision you have and the Vision Factors you know will make the vision come true when acted on consistently, the expectations you’ve set forth, and rules you’ve shared with your team all for the purpose of moving forward and succeeding.

Personal Expectations tend to operate out of “Shoulds” and your desire for everyone to be like you, operate like you, care like you, or behave like little-you-robots. We don’t employ robots; we employ people… and they come in all different forms, shapes, shades, personalities, and backgrounds. Being mindful of this simple… yet, easy to forget fact tends to allow more room for empathy, understanding, curiosity, and conversation. I am not suggesting standards and expectations ever drop… I am imploring an appreciation to win with a team of diverse people committed to a common goal!

In my life, professionally and personally, I’ve chosen to redefine how I define trust. It used to be, I’d trust someone if they would behave, respond, and live life how I would… Then I’d trust them. Nowadays, I trust people to be how they are… how they’ve continuously shown themselves to be! Now, I have a decision to make… when the way they are is outside of what I’m willing to tolerate; the relationship, professionally or personally, can end. No harm no foul! When I don’t like the behavior, but value and enjoy the person and see the positive impact they bring then I… and you… have two choices:

1. Acceptance – Accept them as is, know it’s not going to change (because they’ve been so consistent), make the necessary adjustments to your world, and continue the relationship.

Here a professional example; I was a leader of a team and was gifted with four amazing people. At the time, I was in Manager-Ego-Mode and was high my professional superpower and therefore wanted and needed everyone to be like me… totally ignoring the superpowers each of them brought to the team. One team member, in particular, couldn’t have been more opposite from me… she was quiet, stern, and communication wasn’t her strong point; even with various trainings, classes, and supervision… she was consistently herself. Accepting this about her; while recognizing her organization skills and her attention to detail… I could have increased my trust in her by placing her in a new position to event plan and manage authorizations for payment. She would have excelled, potentially loved her job, and we both would have gained a greater trust in each other. Instead, due to my youth and leadership growing pains I didn’t do that and must live with that missed opportunity!

Personally, I have a friend that’s always late… you have the same. He says 8:00pm but arrives at 11:00pm; it used to drive me crazy! At one point, I was so upset I considered ending the friendship and asked myself… is the friendship worth it. My answer was yes… he’s my best friend, has consistently been this way, and does it to everyone. Therefore, when he says, 8:00pm… I continued my life and stopped expecting him at 8:00pm because I trust HIM to do what he’s consistently done. Or, I tell him 5:00pm because I trust he will arrive at 8:00pm. I’m happy to say we are still best friends and he… as we continue to age… now arrives at 8ish, Lol!

2. Reveal – This takes us into the next topic of revealing the issue as problematic as everything isn’t to be accepted!

 

R. – Reveal

Leadership isn’t for the faint of heart. At some point, you will either choose to accept everything and get walked over… damaging the trust your people have in you, the team, and the organization. Or, you will choose to reveal to your team or an individual on your team what is expected and develop a plan to make it happen.

Revealing can be difficult because it first means you accept full responsibility for accepting the problematic behavior for so long. Remember, this has been bothering you… not them! This is old information to you… new information to them! So, start by stating the behavior, accepting responsibility for allowing it, valuing them as a person, and sharing what the new need and expectation is. Perhaps it’s punctuality, a more positive demeanor, or meeting deadlines. Whatever it is… be mindful to share the solution or make them part of the solution… instead of simply telling them what to stop; allowing for a conversation of replacement behavior. They may come up with a better idea than you!

It may sound like, “Hi everyone, I want to accept full responsibility for ___________ and the way things have been going on around here lately; people coming in late, missing deadlines, etc. Today is a new day! As we move forward the vision is _________________. The 3-5 things (Vision Factors) we’re focusing on to be sure the vision comes true is _____, _________, ______. This is my expectation for each person here and for us as a team, ____________________. And here are the rules starting today ______, _________, ______________. I understand this change is going to easier for some and hard for others. We want to move forward with everyone, but understand that may not be the case and we want to create win-wins for you, the team, and the organization. If you have questions please come and discuss with me as we move forward and I’ll be happy to speak with you. Thank You!”.

 

U. – Understanding Change

Trust would be an easier concept if people behaved just like you wanted right away and stayed that way forever… right? You know like I know that rarely happens! As a leader, you understand change is hard for people and it’s our job to stay clear and connected as our people work to follow through. When we want change and have initiated plans for change… it’s our job to be present, visible, available, and ready to uphold the change. That may mean walking the floor or the office, conversing and checking in with your people, following through with what you said you were going to do, and perhaps weekly 1-on-1’s for the first month after having the R. (Revealing Conversation) with that employee… having them discuss and build with you instead of inappropriately venting to co-workers who can’t help their cause.

 

S. – Super-Belief!

This will sound harsh; however it’s a truth all leaders must know deep down… Not everyone that starts with you will end with you! I was recently conducting a training and a leader asked about consistent difficult employees and how to best address certain situations. The truth is, at some point, a leader may have to fire their high-performer that is successful due to consistent shady practices, the employee that has all the potential but never pans out, and sometimes a high-paying client/customer that is abusive to you, your staff, and is resistant to change.

The Super-Belief is the belief that you, your team, and the organization will be successful NO MATTER WHAT! It’s not a slight on the person you let go… you know the team and business will take a dip before it springboards again… but it will springboard due to you as a leader, the wonderful people you have left on your team, your trust in their ability, and the fact there are roughly 7 billion people on the planet and one of those great souls are going to be a better fit when you seek and hire looking for the right personality and skills to best fit your desired culture!

 

T. – Tell

You want to increase trust, evolve work culture, and enhance Leadership & Work/Life Harmony for you and your people… simply tell them when they’re doing good, have done a good job, and be present to catch them succeeding and being positive in the face of change! Typically, leaders and employees are busy… and even busier in the face of change. When you make yourself present and catch people doing the change… I’ve found what gets rewarded gets repeated. Lastly, encourage a culture in which co-workers are expected to catch each other and their bosses doing good and tell each other so… it goes a long way!

This is a new take on trust and I hope it resonated. Trust is more than this abstract bully that lives in our mind insisting everyone operate like us, can read our mind, or is willing to use their emotional thermometer to gauge how to be with us and for us. As a leader, trust is something we have some control over and can be a part of. Enjoy your new T.R.U.S.T.!

 

“We don’t employ robots; we employ people… and they come in all different forms, shapes, shades, personalities, and backgrounds. Being mindful of this simple… yet, easy to forget fact tends to allow more room for empathy, understanding, curiosity, and conversation”

                                                                             – Andre Young

Written by: Andre Young

 

Enhance Leadership and Work/Life Harmony in your Organization, your Leaders, Employees, and Teams with Andre Young’s Speaking Engagements, Evolve & Lead Training Programs (on-site, online, or virtual), and1-on-1 Growth Sessions! www.youevolvingnow.com

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