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Sunday, 9 February 2014

How Far Do You Trust Your People? More Importantly How Far Do They Trust You!

Perhaps the most emotive word in the whole leadership lexicon is trust.  The number of times that I have heard people say, for example, “A good worker but I’m not sure whether I can trust them to make a decision - it might go wrong”. 

Where there is mistrust in either direction very little of worth will be accomplished.  On the other hand in a trusting environment anything can be achieved. 

This was brought to mind this week with one of my members who has recently taken a new job and is looking around the people to see what talent can be uncovered. 

He found two, both 24/25 years old, one with six years service and the other a recently employed graduate.  Both had been working in a directive environment, “do as I say and don’t make any mistakes” and were not happy. 

In the new atmosphere of inclusivity now being brought into the business, both are now being trusted and encouraged to analyse situations, make decisions, and get on with the action. 

The result?  Two happier, involved and engaged young ladies who are starting to make a significant difference in the business. 

A simple tale perhaps but a very important lesson. It is matter of culture; the difference between the authoritarian approach and the inclusive approach. 

A wise sage once said that leaders are not there to lead people.  They are there to grow people to enable them to perform. 

It all starts with the values espoused by the leader and hence the business.  It is essential to articulate them at every opportunity so that the values become a vital part of “this is the way that we do things around here”. 

From there it is the vision of what can be accomplished and where the leader intends the business to be in the next few years.  Once again this must be driven into the business on every occasion. 

Finally the people must be given the freedom to perform and that for some may be difficult.  When people have been exposed to an authority organising their (working) lives at every touch and turn some find freedom a trifle daunting and don’t know what to do with it. 

It can take time but with effort, most of the people will react positively.  It all demands from the leadership an absolute dedication to a no-blame culture; no-blame because if we give people the responsibility of making decisions, then we cannot reprimand them for making mistakes. 

Any problems must be looked on as a learning experience, at least once.  More than once may result in something more than just a learning experience. 

It all devolves on trust.  Trust is a fragile flower and needs to be cared for.  Trust must be bi-directional and, in some ways, cannot be anything else. 

With trust comes accountability for performance and that implies reward (not necessarily financial), growth, achievement and success. 

All these features are the most motivating aspects of anyone’s working life and when they are in place and available, anything can be achieved.
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