You’ve accepted a big leadership position at a company that had been mismanaged for many years, leaving its employees discouraged, jaded and skeptical.
You have big plans to take this group to greatness using your brand of More Human Leadership, but the top brass wants it done “yesterday”.
What’s the first thing you must do to kickstart this transformation?
Building trust as soon as possible.
It’s the 2nd principle of More Human Leadership – and an absolute must for any lasting change.
Because the last thing a leader needs in quickly pushing goals, objectives and action plans all the way through the ranks of a company is to literally “feel” the skepticism as the messages are delivered – that collective vibe from the other team members that they really aren’t believing much of what the leader says.
I’ve been there, and felt it. And it didn’t feel good. I knew it would be nearly impossible for me to really move the dial when when the mistrust of leadership was so high, because it is such a powerful destructive force in the workplace.
To successfully overcome this force, leaders have to take 6 big steps, immediately:
1) Make sure they know you
2) Make sure you know them
3) Be a “Doer”, not a “Talker”
4) Over-communicate (use Terry’s Rule)
5) Keep your promises (or don’t make them if you can’t keep them)
6) Be a truth-teller
First, your teammates simply need to know who you are. Now I know that sounds painfully obvious, but have you ever watched that reality show “Undercover Boss”? How can leaders build any credibility if the rank and file doesn’t even know their names, or what they look like? What’s more, you can’t assume they know you just because your picture is on your company’s web site.
Trust is never nameless.
Next, a leader must get out of the ivory tower and into the places where the business gets done – that kind of visibility is critical. I realize as the companies get larger it gets harder and harder to meet teammates, but getting to know as many of them (or at least their first names) as possible at least can create good word of mouth (the “wow, at least this person goes out into the field” vibe can get around very fast).
It’s also very effective to get a reputation as a “doer”, rather than someone who just talks at people. The best complement I ever overheard from someone when I was making field visits was “I like him – he gets things done”.
And then there’s hearsay. Many a credibility reputation has been harmed by third and fourth-hand information being distorted and mangled. The antidote is over communicating – that’s why I came up with “Terry’s Rule”, which is communicating the same thing at least 15 times to make sure it is properly understood.
Lastly, there are the obvious building blocks, but ones that absolutely, positively can’t be ignored -honesty, transparency, and keeping promises. Or more importantly, showing restraint when you’re tempted to throw out a bunch of promises as temporary “band-aids” for morale issues, while at the same time knowing that you can’t possibly keep all of them.
If you can take this path to building trust using these 6 big steps, then the next time you deliver your goals and objectives, the vibe will be far different. The audience will be with you inside what I call a “fortress of credibility“, fending off any attempts to knock it down by any lingering disbelievers. The messages will be well received, and understood. You and your team now have the proper momentum to execute.
Go for it, and lead well!