“If you think you’re a leader and no one is following you, you’re simply just going for a walk.” Have you ever wondered why you can have the best plans, a compelling vision and even a great strategy and yet still not make progress? One of the key skills of a seasoned leader is learning to “move at the speed of trust”. There are a number of factors that play into this and a few suggested approaches to building what’s needed. I’ve come to realize that I’d rather move together towards a lesser goal or imperfect solution rather than alone to the idyllic. Your team may love your idea and even agree that it’s the best solution, but if they don’t trust you they won’t move with you or they’ll move but not be fully invested. Trust obviously requires character and integrity and you either live with that or you don’t. However, there are also things that contribute to building trust and they are often experienced rather than spoken.
First of all, trust is built through listening and asking great questions. People will not typically follow someone who they don’t think understands them or their viewpoint. Leaders who tend to talk too much, convince too hard, and refuse to take a real interest in their teammates will find they are alone. The key is to develop ownership around an idea or solution. People will own what they contribute to more than what they’re convinced of – spend more time allowing others to contribute than you do trying to convince. Secondly, value the person. If your team thinks you see them only as cogs in the machine or objects to be manipulated (even if your intentions are good and your focus is on the vision) they won’t follow you. When you focus on being “for” the individual and wanting them to experience fulfillment they’re much more likely to commit. This means you’ll need to take interest in what makes the other person tick. Thirdly, take your time. The reality is, even though we live in a microwave culture, trust takes time. If you activate the other skills you can speed up the process slightly, but the reality is people need to see consistently who you are and how you treat them. The good news is once the trust is built, momentum typically will follow.
Moving at the speed of trust involves personal, individual conversations with those you’re leading. It’s about not being anxious to move ahead but giving your attention to the individual. Trust is all about relationships and people will quickly discover whether you value the relationship or value the objective. Objectives are important but never over relationships and never before relationships. In my experience, most leaders lean either toward objectives or relationships and the need is both. However, what is critical is the order of events. Build the relationship first, together agree on and own the objectives and then move forward together. Some leaders will be frustrated at moving at the speed of trust, but I’ve been learning the hard way that it’s the ONLY way to move! This is because you will get more accomplished, changes will be more solid and impact will be long-lasting, plus you may just end up making friends rather than merely colleagues.