Robert D. Putnam in his influential study, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, writes that only in high-trust environments can leaders recruit the eager support they need to achieve worthy goals. So how much do you trust the people that you lead? No, how much do really trust them! Then on the other side, how do your behaviors signal trust?
There must be an essential amount of trust to truly have a great team. The members of the team need to know that they each have one another’s backs. There has to be an essential amount of confidence that the other person will pull their weight and that they will do what they are supposed to do.
We all have probably encountered that person or situation that has led to our lack of trust. They failed to deliver on that important project. We depended on them for a certain bit of information, a resource or homework that would add to the project. But they didn’t finish it. They missed the meeting. Instead of their work product they came with an excuse. Frustrating. Infuriating. Somehow you soldier on. Perhaps you even pick up the slack. Note to self: don’t trust them ever again!
But lest we point the finger too quickly, how are we at being trustworthy? The Bible says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” Mat 7:3-5.
Do you show any of these negative behaviors?
- Do you do what you say you will do? Or do you make excuses?
- Do you do it yourself and signal that you don’t trust others?
- Do you hold a grudge and not extend grace to others and work with them to improve?
- Do you have a short attention span and don't listen to others?
- Do you fail to return phone calls and/or emails or texts?
- Are you always late and signal that their time is not important?
- Do you say one thing and do another?
- How consistent and predictable are you on the things that matter?
- Do you fail to loop people in on details that impact them or even on things for which they can contribute - or anything for that matter!?
- Do you stand up for a teammate in the face of criticism or do you wilt and go with the crowd out of fear you won’t be liked?
When it comes to trust, there are no little things. Each word and behavior sends a message. If you are not living in integrity in the way you interact and work with others, why should they trust you? Why should you be trustworthy? It may not be worth the risk! They may not feel safe! If you are not extending trust then how can you expect them to trust you?
On the positive behavior side, the international coach federation identifies “trust” as one of the core competencies that must be present for good coaching. They identify six things that help with creating a trusting environment:
- Shows genuine concern for the client's welfare and future.
- Continuously demonstrates personal integrity, honesty and sincerity.
- Establishes clear agreements and keeps promises.
- Demonstrates respect for client's perceptions, learning style, personal being.
- Provides ongoing support for and champions new behaviors and actions, including those involving risk-taking and fear of failure.
- Asks permission to coach (talk to) the client in sensitive, new areas.
For our purposes, place your name at the beginning of each sentence and substitute “team-mate” for “client.” Then ask yourself and a few trusted people who are courageous enough to be honest, how am I measuring up?
Trust requires constant attention because trust is the currency of leadership.
Scott Gress is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church as an independent contractor. He specializes in Leadership Training, Consulting, Coaching and Coach Training. Contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. 561-542-4472, firstname.lastname@example.org or scottgress.com
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