Did you know that one third of your team may not trust you?
Shocking, right? But according to statistics, true nonetheless. A third of employees don’t trust the company they work for; they don’t believe their leaders will do what they promise and they’re pretty much expecting the organization to throw them under the bus given the chance.
That’s a pretty massive problem. Think about it: if you felt like that, how would it affect the quality of your work? How would it affect your mental health, your motivation, your creativity? How loyal would you be to your organization if something better came along?
And just how will it affect your organization if this is how a third of your team feels?
So why do so many employees lack faith in their leaders?
The answer is simple — and oh-so-complicated. It’s all about commitment. Or rather a lack thereof…
Heart+action = commitment.
Commitment is often one of the easiest concepts to get on board with mentally, and the hardest to follow through on when push comes to shove.
We’ve all encountered leaders who talk a great game. They have passion, ideas, and enthusiasm in spades. They know how to pick a superstar team, how to motivate them (at least to begin with), and how to get the ball rolling.
Then they disappear.
Emails go unanswered for weeks, you realize that they’ve gravitated towards other projects, and when the entire team is staying late at the office, surviving on takeout pizza, the boss has already clocked off for the evening.
The problem? A missing ingredient. For a project to succeed, you don’t just need heart, you also need action. Heart is a wonderful starting point; it brings the passion, the enthusiasm, and the fire that acts as a powerful driving force in the early stages of any project.
It’s essential, yes, but it’s action that shapes all that good energy into tangible results.
If you’re missing either one of these ingredients you have a recipe for failure; a disaffected team that lacks trust in their leader, employees that’ll jump ship as soon as the opportunity arises.
Missing in action…
Why do so many leaders find their “action” MIA? Why are they so great at the heart bit — starting a project and getting their team fired up — before disappearing when things get tough? Why do they struggle with the follow through?
We all like to think of ourselves as being the kind of person who always does the right thing and always does what we say we’re going to do but…we’re also really good at coming up with reasons why this particular time is the exception.
Whether it’s because you’re afraid of the consequences of doing what you said you were going to do, or because it turns out that meeting your commitments is going to be much harder than you anticipated, or because you’ve got a situation where nobody’s really going to know if you don’t fulfill your promises, it’s incredibly easy to let things slide. Just this once.
Except it’s very rarely “just this once”…
The truth is, if you look for reasons that you “can’t” follow through on your commitments, you’ll find them. And you’ll more than likely start finding more and more of them as time goes on. This kind of thing tends to become a habit, failing to follow through on one commitment snowballs into an ever-larger and ever-more-unmanageable situation. The kind of situation where keeping promises becomes impossible.
So how do you ensure there are no missing ingredients in your own leadership? How do you ensure an even mix of heart + action?
Start with heart.
To lead a team effectively, this is the first ingredient you need to find. Hopefully your store cupboard will be well-stocked. If you feel more than passion for the goal you’re
working towards, if you feel connected to it in such a way that win or lose you’re still invested, you already have a bucket load of heart.
If you don’t, you still might be able to cultivate heart but first you need to check in with what’s going on. If you feel disconnected from what you’re supposed to be doing, explore whether it aligns with your core values, your internal compass. If it doesn’t, it’s worth asking yourself whether it’s worth pursuing in the first place.
When you’re lacking enthusiasm but there’s no issue relating to values, consider whether the project is right, but your role in it is not. Think about delegating certain parts of the project to other members of your team, letting them play to their strengths while you play to yours.
Now add a generous pinch of action.
“Are you in?” This was the question my grandfather used to ask me every summer when I promised to help him out with construction projects he was working on.
A simple question with a world of meaning behind it.
It meant was I “in” no matter what, was I willing to do whatever was necessary to get the job done — was I prepared to stay late, to push myself beyond my physical limitations? Was I ALL in?
He needed to know if I was fully committed.
And that’s what you need to ask yourself (and your team) before you commit to any new project. But make sure they — and you — know exactly what being “in” means.
Are you (all) prepared to work late, to push the boundaries, to try new things, to dust yourself off if things go wrong and to keeping trying? Are you prepared to do what you promise every single time? Are you willing to keep working once the initial enthusiasm has worn off, when things are no longer enjoyable, when things are crumbling around you?
If that’s what you expect from your team, it’s vital for you to demonstrate that they can expect the same thing from you. If they’re all staying late with a takeout pizza, you’re going to be right there along with them for as long as it takes.
By giving your team the power to decide what their “in” looks like, you’re not only setting group expectations, you’re teaching your team that they have a lot of control over the outcome of the project. By making them take ownership of it, you’re giving them the opportunity to be leaders in waiting. And because they’re more invested in the results, they’ll work harder, be more creative, and be willing to take responsibility for whatever needs to get done to make the project a success rather than checking off their own individual checklists and checking out.
A recipe for trust.
If you’re horrified at the thought of one third of your team distrusting you, take heart, your horror proves that you’re already on the right track. You already know the kind of leader you want to be, you know that you want to lead with integrity, with your values pointing you towards your true north.
And the best way to do that is to stick to the recipe for commitment; heart, underpinned by integrity, and followed up with action. Decide that when you’re “in”, you’re “in”, no ifs, buts, or maybe next times.
If you consistently lead your team with that potent mix of heart and commitment, not only will you be sure that your team trusts you, but you’ll be building a team that you can trust too.
Al Schauer is the Founder of PointNorth Consulting. He offers coaching and mentoring to aspiring leaders committed to leading with character. His new book on values and doing the right thing, All In Leadership, will be available Fall 2019. Sign up through the link below to receive updates on how you can purchase his book.