In my last post on creating a culture of joy, we talked about high-fives and Toto.
But let's face it, not every day with your team is filled with unicorn rides through daisy-laden fields.There are some days when things are tough, where there is much work to be done, and your team is looking to you to lead them through it. So when that moment comes, will your team trust you to lead them well?
How do you know if they will? And more importantly, are you building a culture of trust among your team so that when that time comes, they will not only trust you, but trust each other, regardless of circumstance.
Let's look back at the top 4 reasons people will leave their jobs, according to Forbes:
- They don't like their boss (31%)
- They don't feel empowered (31%)
- Negative internal politics (35%)
- Lack of recognition (43%)
- It's much more tolerable to have an unlikable but trustworthy leader than it is to have a buddy-boss whom you have no confidence in. A leader that can be trusted can be respected.
- Empowering someone else is simply to trust them to get the job done. Trust is at the very foundation of equipping others to take their next step.
- Team politics preys on one very important emotion: fear. You don't have to be afraid of what others think or say because of a culture of trust among your team.
- Recognizing the efforts of someone else is releasing the right to be recognized yourself. Trust is letting others know that you have released that very right.
Here are some ideas from my experience:
- Be in the trenches. In my experience, you can't lead someone to where you've never been, or where you yourself are not going. This requires you be in the trenches, alongside the people you work with. If you're at least aware of the day-to-day challenges, and have seen them face-to-face, it's easier for others to trust you. If you're in software, write some code from time to time. If you're in foodservice, work the line a night or two. If you're in accounting, pour over the books with your reports at the end of a quarter. People want to see that you're not just red tape above them, but that you identify with their issues alongside them.
- Create empathy, not sympathy. A rapport should not only exist between you and the team, but should be part of the team dynamic as a whole. Lead the entire team to pitch in together to assist an individual team member when hard times come to that person, even if it means sacrificing other team goals. When difficulty comes to your team, don't feel sorry for the people you lead, but associate with them, while allowing them to assist one another. Make compassion a part of what it means to be a part of your team and enable teamwork to overcome adversity.
- Maintain high accountability, but low control. Don't micromanage your people, but make sure there are consequences for their decisions, for better or for worse. Leadership is the art of equipping others to succeed. To do this requires giving others the freedom to fail, but ensuring that others learn from their failures. It also means giving them the option to succeed on their own, and recognizing or rewarding them when they do. You are not a babysitter, but a leader. You lead adults: treat them as such. Don't rule with an iron fist, but lead with open arms.
- Fight fear. In a team's culture, the opposite of trust is not distrust...but fear. If someone is afraid that you're talking behind their back, or that their teammates are, it leads to distrust. As you learn to trust one another, this leads to the destruction of gossip and politics. Be honest with one another. Fear usually creeps in when things aren't certain or information isn't known. Don't let fear sink in about the future or any other uncertainties. Head uncertainty off at the pass, and learn to lead your team to embrace the unknown rather than be scared of it.
- Have no secrets. One of the ways to fight fear and embrace trust as a team is to have no secrets. Be transparent with your team: with the decisions you're making, with goals you're heading towards, with the good, the bad, and the ugly of the day-to-day. Of course there are times when information must be hidden for a while, but make sure your team knows why the information cannot be divulged. As soon as that time has passed, share it openly. Don't let team members unnecessarily harbor information from other team members. Be open and honest about your personal struggles as a leader. Foster communication among your team by communicating yourself.