Last week, I wrote about the importance of trust in leadership, and saw Al Lewis’ column in the Wall Street Journal yesterday on, “Who Do You Trust?” It was disheartening to read that in a Gallup poll last week, “Ranking lower than journalists were business executives.”
A quick search of “Trust” and “Leadership” showed 147,000,000 results, so this topic isn’t one that’s ignored in principle. But in practice, it seems to be another story. Stephen Covey wrote that a leader’s first job is to inspire trust – born out by character and competence. One thing I have observed with my students is that when I begin speaking of a numbered list, note taking actually commences in earnest! Covey went on to write that he observed 13 common behaviors of trusted leaders:
- Talk Straight
- Demonstrate Respect
- Create Transparency
- Right Wrongs
- Show Loyalty
- Deliver Results
- Get Better
- Confront Reality
- Clarify Expectation
- Practice Accountability
- Listen First
- Keep Commitments
- Extend Trust
That’s way too many items for me to remember, so I boiled it down to three questions to ask yourself (in the spirit of self reliance):
- What is the right thing to do? This question is easier to answer if you invite confrontation.
- Have I taken a step back from the minutiae to insure I am giving laser-focused energy to the right things? This means you’re empowering versus micromanaging your team.
- Am I interacting with people the way I would like to be respected so that I earn their commitment? This requires you to find the value in each person with whom you work.
None of the above questions will be positively answered if the leader isn’t a listener, and striving to hear the unheard. It takes showing some vulnerability as well. Kevin Eikenerry wrote a great article on the subject and describes three traits to show:
- Caring for others – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care . . . about them.”
- Mistakes – Admit ‘em!
- Path to Improvement – Involve your team in helping you work on your development plan.
I’m interested in your thought on how trust is earned in today’s complicated and rapidly changing environments!