The gravel voiced Dr Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State, said: "Experiencing University politics made me long for the tranqu...
Sunday, 25 August 2013
Don’t Trust Someone to Achieve? Have You Ever Given Then the Freedom?
A word which seems to come up time and time again in any
discussion of leadership is Trust and
it elicits several and varied reactions.
A simple definition of trust says that when an individual is
trusted, the trustor (if that is the right ward) effectively abandons control
of the situation and allows the trustee to perform the allocated task without
Easily said and difficult to achieve simply because of the
perceived lack of control especially when the leader may have a tendency to
wanting to know at all times what is going on.
The question is: how long should it take to be able to trust
someone to undertake a task without the aforesaid hindrance from any one?
If the leader is courageous it is feasible to take that
route from the beginning on the basis that he/she will be able to learn from
the results and either begin to develop trust or realise that some coaching may
For many leaders it can be a painful experience to
relinquish control of the achievement of a task particularly when the
individual is relatively inexperienced and consequently needs to learn.
When I started my working life in engineering we were
allocated to some machine operator for example who would show us what to do and
we would learn from an expert.
operator would allow us to do the job ourselves but under his strict
supervision until such time as he was content that we had learnt what to do and
how to do it.
At this stage trust was established and the operator often
felt that he could wander off for a chat somewhere to leave us to it and
frankly to earn some piecework on his behalf.
It was a micro-version of the one of the functions of a
great leader who understands the necessity of the coaching role.In effect if the leader knows what to do and
how to do it then it stands to reason that he/she should demonstrate, coach and
teach until a level of trust has been established which enable to leader to
stand back and allow the work to proceed.
I still think, however, that the leader who is prepared to
take a risk, the very act of allowing someone to undertake a task without
interference can be a significant learning experience in itself.
The clue is in that word Interference
which, it must be said, is the usual complaint when the leader tries to
influence progress.It’s an irritation
to both sides, in fact.
So then, if the leader has trusted a team member to
undertake a task, then he/she has one or two criteria to consider. Firstly whatever the reason it is essential
not to be seen to be interfering and that can take quite some strength of
Secondly there must be a no-blame environment so that even
if the team member ostensibly fails to achieve the task, then it must be
considered a learning experience.
All in all, trust must eventually be a two way process so
that with mutual trust, there will be mutual success and a developed
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