In Mike Myatt’s book Hacking Leadership he writes, “nothing impacts our world like leadership, and sadly, the practice of leadership is broken. We live in a society where the pace of change has never been faster and more dramatic, yet our leadership practices have remained painfully stagnant. Using eighteenth, nineteenth, or twentieth-century leadership practices in the twenty-first century simply doesn’t work. It’s time for a fresh perspective.” Evidence to support his belief include current findings about our dis-engaged workforce coupled with high turn over rates and more and more people deciding to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit and go at it alone. Last week I saw for the second or third time another piece of data that reported some 75% of employees don’t trust their boss to tell the truth. Upon reading this I literally remember uttering the words to myself, “and there it is again.”
There are few things in work and life involving two or more people that will flourish and stand the test of time without trust as a foundation. With trust comes relationships and the resulting flywheel effect when both are put in play. Flywheel in a sense that as trust builds, relationships deepen which in turn builds more trust – and so on, and so on.
For leaders, trust and relationships are the means and end of our work. Over the course of my career I’ve found that with them, all things are possible. And much like many other things in work and life, it’s what you do before you do what you do that matters most in building trust and relationships. As such, in response to Myatt’s request for a fresh perspective, I would recommend the following:
By definition authenticity means something is genuine or real, and worthy of acceptance or belief. Kouzes and Posner subscribe “people won’t believe in the message until they believe in the messenger.” For leaders, trust is synonymous with belief and both are best realized when we are our authentic selves.
Booker T. Washington said, “few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know you trust him.” Extend trust before it is warranted- leaders always go first.
BE ABOUT THEM
My version of this is to love your employees to death, give them something to believe in, and obsess every day about them becoming everything they are capable of becoming. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
People want to know you are completely there with them, in this moment. Pour yourself into their lives and catch them in the act of doing extraordinary things. Good leaders in your presence make you feel like they are the greatest person on earth- great leaders in your presence make you feel like you are the greatest person on earth.
Trust can take years to earn and seconds to lose. Employees place their precious lives on our care, tread lightly.
Stephen M.R. Covey speaks about trust as the one thing that changes everything and Forbes recently reported that employee’s relationship with their boss is the number one reason why they leave the company. In leadership and life, trust and relationships are the means and the end (action and consequence) that when well attended to, much like the flywheel can get better and better over time.
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