Leadership in Progress—Building Trust

My last post might have seemed like a blatant plug for Dr. Tasha Eurich’s Bankable Leadership book (2013, The Eurich Group, LLC; Greenleaf Book Group Press). Yes, a bit of a plug, but only because I happen to like what she has to say, and I like how she’s written it as well—it’s not stuffy; she uses every-day language; and it’s not too academic (many citations to support her writing, but I can gloss over those when I feel like it). Full disclosure: I am not being compensated for using her book as a basis for some of my “on leadership” posts. (When I tweeted about Bankable Leadership a couple of times, Dr. T did respond and retweet some of my tweets; that was kind of cool!) Bankable Leadership just happens to be a recent resource that is handy to me, and since I’m leading a new team, I’m going to take advantage of what I’m learning.

And the first thing I need to do is to make sure my new team trusts me. According to Dr. Eurich, researchers have discovered two types of trust: competence-based and motivated-based.

Competence-based Trust

I think I’m good to go with competence-based trust (your team believes you are capable and reliable). That is, I don’t think I need to work harder on building that type of trust. Most of my team members have known me a long time (in a work/business environment), and they have seen me, for example, (pretty much consistently) exhibit this: I follow-through on what I’ve committed to do; I meet task deadlines; and I’ve led/managed other committees/teams successfully. (The one team member who had not worked with me previously saw me in action at our first team gathering, and was directly involved in my follow-up actions from that. For her, I’m going to presume she believes I am capable of leading the team.)

Motivated-based Trust

Does your team believe you have positive intentions? Well, I don’t know that my team thinks that of me. Some of them? Probably. All of them? Probably not, because the one team member has only seen me in action at our first gathering, and a couple of them haven’t worked directly with me for a while now.

One of Dr. T’s tips to earn motivated-based trust is full self-disclosure (self-disclosure is your friend).

Another one of her tips for motivated-based trust is to understand your story as a leader—knowing the events in your life that shaped your views on success and leadership (self-disclosing that as well).

Oh, man. Do I really have to share stuff about me, to help my team understand where I’m coming from? Apparently, yes, if I want to help my team trust that I have the right motivations for leading.

Okay, then. Here’s what I plan to do. I’m early enough in the leadership process with this new team (although we’ve already held that one gathering) that I will use the first few minutes on the next meeting agenda to “share where Judy is coming from and what her expectations are.” What will I say? Well, off the top of my head:

  • I’ll have to let them know how I work (how I manage teams). For example: I hold myself accountable and I expect my team members to do the same.
  • If deadlines are agreed to, then I expect progress by the deadline. And if the deadline won’t be met, then I want to know sooner rather than finding out the day of the deadline (no surprises).
  • I prefer periodic check-ins/status reports. It will help if I find out each team members’ preference for checking in with me.
  • How Total Quality Management training made such a huge impact on me (do it right the first time), that I tend to analyze some tasks a bit more, before starting the task, to see if there are any efficiencies I can create (enabling best practices for the long run), or to see if I can eliminate any likely barriers or defects right off the bat. (I look for root causes, if problems do exist.)
  • I have a tendency to not include the entire team in discussions, if I think the entire team does not need to weigh in on the subject. (Frankly, I think sometimes there are too many cooks in the kitchen, and when you get too many in the kitchen, you have to start managing way more than is necessary.) I know from past experiences that when I do that (not include everyone), that some team members get upset—but can live with it, and some team members let their ugly-side come out—they start gossiping with others about “the leader who won’t let everyone in on the discussion.” So I think it’s best if I let my team know that about me, and try to alleviate any concerns they have about that particular style. Understanding my story as a leader: A former manager of mine coached me when I became the committee lead for a first-time ever implementation plan for the firm’s entire admin staff. He said, “Don’t just convene a group of thinker-type members for your committee. You also need people on your team who are doers [who can produce]. If your committee is composed of all thinkers, nothing will get done.” That story/words of wisdom—his influence—has stuck with me.

I think sharing stuff like that will help the team understand me a bit better. And if a discussion riffs off of that, I’m sure I will learn some of their motivations as well.

I know, I know—it would  have been better if I shared “who/how I am” at our first gathering (our Planning Meeting) to set the tone. I missed that opportunity because, instead, I took advantage of another member’s time, someone who was willing to facilitate a much-needed topic to kick-off our new board year (updating our chapter’s vision and goals). That was an all-day, Saturday meeting, and I needed all the time I could get to make sure the team started with a solid foundation from which to move forward on.

By the way, my Miranda Priestly-mode kicked in when I was drafting the agenda for that Saturday Planning Meeting. I wanted to work from 8am to 6pm, with only a 30-minute lunch break, but I knew as the new leader, that wouldn’t have gone over well, so I nixed that idea and we enjoyed a one-hour lunch break in our 8am to 5pm timeframe. A leader has to do what a leader has to do to keep the team happy, right?

Next up: I’ll see if I can get some feedback from the team, after I self-disclose. Was it worth it? Did it work? I hope so, because I don’t think I’m very good at self-disclosing when leadership self-disclosure is called for.

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