Key point: Leadership effectiveness and trust are two sides of a mirror. Establishing trust requires conscious attention and practice. In order to establish trust, we have to work on both our character and competence simultaneously. Are you trusted as a leader? Team member? How do you know? How would you be rated on the competence and character scale?
Upon recently leaving the company I was CEO at for almost eight years, I wrote a farewell note to all team members and thanked them for trusting me at the helm. Trust was their gift to me. They were always there to encourage me in success and pick me up when I failed. It is a privilege to be in a leadership position and one can’t be optimally effective without having the trust of the entire team. To develop additional insight on the trust challenge read the following Harvard Business Review blog by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback, authors of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader.
Their HBR blog focuses on two significant components of trust; competence and character.
“For people to trust you as a boss, they must believe in your competence to know what to do as a boss. At one time or another, we’ve all had bosses whom people said, “he doesn’t know the business” or “she doesn’t understand what we do.” No one would trust you to do brain surgery because you’re incompetent in that context…
Character is equally important. It refers to your intentions, what you’re trying to do, your goals and values as a boss. If, for example, people think you’re only out for yourself, driven by blind ambition, and don’t care about them, the group, or the work, they will distrust your character, no matter how much you know.”
- Be aware and present regarding your competence and character “score” as it relates to trust.
- To reinforce competence fully engage the expertise around you. People don’t expect you to know everything, but understanding how and why you make decisions and the extent to which you make that clear to all parts of the organization is a vital trust element.
- Work on and continue to develop your character. This is what The Character Triangle is all about. However, we’re not perfect. People know we will make mistakes. They will help us be true to our values if we truly care about them in the most genuine way. Remember that you live in a fish bowl and every act, big or small, connects to define our character.
Trust in the Triangle,
Regardless of what role we have in organizations, I believe we are all in sales. Why? Because all of us, more often than not, are in the business of connecting solutions to problems and essentially transferring trust. We are usually convincing other people to buy into an idea, product or service we’re offering. Sometimes the person is internal to our organization; other times they are outside. If we peel away the veneer we usually are helping someone avoid a pain or fear and/or helping them achieve a desire or goal. I believe the RESPECT value of the Character Triangle is a gateway for successful selling. Why? Because, one of the key subsets of RESPECT is great listening.
Recently I heard a terrific presentation from super sales coach and leader Gerry Layo. Here is the essence of his short course on selling. Gerry says the short course is 4 words:
ASK QUESTIONS AND LISTEN!
Too often we are so focused on what we are going to say that we stop listening. Gerry’s contention is that the strongest sentences we can give to customers end in question marks? I believe it’s the same for anyone we interact with; at work or at home. When we can get people to open up, to trust us with their hopes or fears, we can usually help.
Another great sales coach, the legendary Zig Ziglar, said, “They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” So when we ask the questions we also have to listen with sincere purpose and care.
People who live in the Triangle contribute great value to others …and that is what great sales people are …super value providers.
So you and I can improve ourselves by applying Layo’s short course on selling.
Ask questions and listen with care!
Live the Triangle,
I promised in a previous post that I would have more on Lisa Gansky’s thought provoking book Mesh. Gansky states that there are seven keys to building trust in a Mesh environment:
- Say what you do (manage expectations)
- Use Trials
- Do what you say
- Perpetually delight customers
- Embrace social networks and go deep
- Value transparency but protect privacy
- Deal with negative publicity and feedback promptly and skillfully
Upon reflection, I think the same principles apply to our behavior as individuals in an organization. Self accountability involves delivering on our promises. When we do that; it builds trust with those around us.
Think about each of the seven trust builders above and how you might apply them personally. In Gansky’s book, she points out that San Francisco based Curtis Kimball’s Creme Brulee cart is so popular, he’s attracted 14,000 followers on Twitter. People tweet where he is, flavors offered, etc. Is it possible to create this type of response at work? How do we get fans raving about our work? Why is it important?
Building trust in our work environment is important. When we live in the Character Triangle, we take responsibility for our personal behavior. When we build trust amongst others, people want to work with us and for us.
In the Character Triangle,
Being abundant in both thinking and doing is one of the big three of the Character Triangle. I want to be surrounded by people who think this way. I want to work and play with abundant “meshers.”
What do Zipcar, Groupon, Netflix, Crushpad, Thredup all have in common? They are new business models based on what Lisa Gansky describes in her brilliant new book The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing. A Mesh business is based on people coming together on a common platform to share in the use of goods or services. The commercial transaction is based on sharing. Gansky goes on to describe what she calls the “Virtuous Cycle of Trust”: learn, test, engage, play…then rinse and repeat. I encourage you to read Gansky’s book for the full meal deal description and understanding of Mesh. But my point is that Mesh, at its foundation, is about abundant rather than scarcity thinking. It’s all about expanding and sharing.
The virtuous cycle of trust is required between us as people in order to make sharing and partnering our preferred way of working. Hoarding resources is counterproductive. We need to leverage each other’s skills rather than negatively minimize each other. As a CEO there is no way I have all the skills to run a company on my own. I need to mesh with all the people on my team so that we can leverage, expand and contract our capabilities as the environment around us changes. As a company we also need to partner more with other valuable members of our ecosystem. To borrow a phrase from Gansky, I guess we could call this Mesh Leadership.
I want to challenge us to think about how we can better come together to share and leverage each other’s skills. How can we abundantly give what we have developed in ourselves? How can we seek out and openly engage and receive what others have to offer? Where and how do we behave in fearful/scarce ways? How is that restrictive? Or even harmful? This is a different and a more complete thought than teamwork. It’s bigger and more expansive. It is “Mesh.”
I am at the early stages of more fully incorporating mesh thinking into abundance leadership. But I know it is important. Join me on the journey. I will write a lot more on this in coming blogs.
Live the Triangle,