Three Elements Of Trust To Take Your Leadership To The Next Level

A quote I developed and often emphasize as a coach is this: “Leadership happens the moment it is required. Miss the moment, and you miss the opportunity to make an impact.“

From my perspective, leadership occurs on a moment-by-moment basis, and the only way to truly have a great impact is through trust. Trust is the glue that keeps the moment heightened. Without it, the leader, the team they lead and the processes that keep the organization working at high efficiency start to decay.

This is why I believe it’s critical to trust yourself, trust others and trust the process:

Trust yourself.

Trusting yourself means that doubt is minimized and the decisions you make have moved from questioning and second-guessing to an assuredness that others can feel good about. Everything starts here.

At first glance, it might be easy to say that you trust yourself. But on a deeper level, trusting yourself means your intuition and strategic thinking are able to come together to provide clarity to your thoughts, decisions and actions. I often describe self-trust as “the right action at the right time with the right level of intensity to serve the need of the moment.” This is a high-performing state that condenses the time between recognizing an issue, thinking about it, making a decision and taking action. In my experience, higher self-trust allows you to bypass the internal chatter of doubt and second-guessing. Instead, you are able to effectively address the issue right away.

Here are a few tips to increasing self-trust:

• Listen more closely to your gut instinct, and then act on it. I’ve found that when we don’t listen to our instincts, we tend to make mistakes.

• Regularly celebrate successes and accomplishments, including noting why they were successes.

• Understand that self-doubt or internal questioning is a habit of thought.

Trust others.

Trusting others means you can ask your team to take the leap necessary to grow your company, and they will execute at the level required. What you see in them, what you hear from them and what you feel about them should be in alignment. When you can fully trust others, you are giving way to their decisions, actions and interpretations of how things can be done. It doesn’t mean you agree all the time; it means that they are worth listening to and can execute at the level necessary for the high output you expect.

If you don’t have this trust with one or all of your team members, think about what could be the source. For example:

• Do you harbor internal doubt about letting go of some task or decision?

• Have you observed patterns of behavior, performance, training or skill level in an employee that generate doubt?

• Do their values, character or attitudes cause you to doubt them?

Any of these may be getting in the way. Any mistrust slows down forward momentum. You must have alignment with the individuals on your team.

To begin the process of trusting others in a deeper way, begin by observing them without judgment or preconceptions. In my experience, when you use this deeper level of observation, people’s actions and intentions often become clearer, and what you need to do becomes more obvious. It might be time to address the problem you are clearly seeing with that person. For example, a client of mine observed her colleague with whom she was struggling, and she soon discovered the staff member wasn’t actually complaining but rather cared very deeply for the company and was trying to make a suggestion. She was then able to help the staff member implement their idea. This level of observation can free people up to bring their best foot forward.

Trust the process.

Trusting the process means that at any time, you believe a process within your company will generate the outcome desired, the data expected and the interactions required (particularly during challenging times or times of fast growth). The processes are the systems, procedures, policies surrounding how your company operates, collects and distributes data, and gets things done. Trust is critical here. Timeliness, accuracy, depth and follow-through on execution all play a role. If you don’t trust the process, what needs to change or improve so that you do? I’ve seen this often show up in companies by way of financial data that is a lagging indicator rather than a leading one, or human resources policies that have not kept up with changes in government regulations.

Here are a couple of tips to think about when striving to build your trust in the process:

• Make sure the intention of the process is clear.

• Connect processes to the team or company goals and outcomes. For instance, a trucking company I worked with was able to decrease the time it took to respond to customer complaints — from between 90 and 180 minutes to 10 minutes — because they gave serious thought to how their process served their goals and made adjustments when necessary.

• Make sure people can connect the processes to how is the data being used.

An Exercise

Think about an issue that puts you in a bad mood or causes you to procrastinate, or you notice momentum is being lost. Then, answer these three questions to gain clarity on the issue:

• If you trusted yourself right now, what would you do?

• If you trusted others right now, what would you do?

• If you trusted the process right now, what would you do?

What are your answers telling you?

Based on what you wrote, set specific goals to focus your action. In my experience, trust at a deeper level creates freedom, more time and an increase in confidence. This is not about freely granting trust without care. It is listening to another level of internal information and using that clarity to make an impact on yourself, your team and the company.

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