In last week’s blog, I talked about trusting the process. A related, but also distinctive part of maximizing your leadership impact is to trust your people.
If your immediate reaction to that statement was, “Well I do trust my people!” my follow-up questions are, “Do they know it and do you show it?” Here’s why those two things are important:
When your people know you trust them, they are more likely to offer their honest feedback rather than telling you what you want to hear so they can gain your favor. I’m not talking about your staff outright lying to you, but rather editing their comments or not bringing up ideas or concerns because they think they would not be well-received. You need your staff to have the hard conversations with you, to share their “crazy ideas”, to push back a bit where it is warranted. That only happens when it feels safe enough to take that risk. What makes it safe enough? When your staff know you trust them and that you have their back.
How do you show your staff you trust them? By letting them use their unique gifts and graces to contribute to your organization’s success. Are you holding onto the reins too tightly, insisting that all the decisions run through you? You severely limit your potential impact if you have to have all the good ideas. Yes, it can be scary to let go when you are the one being held accountable, and yet the only way to keep the best people is to trust them enough to bring their very best to the table, not simply to expect them to simply mimic your very best.
I’m not suggesting that trusting an employee means throwing them in over their head and setting them (and you) up for failure. I am suggesting that showing your employee you trust them may mean giving them enough leeway that you both feel a bit uncomfortable. Discomfort provides an opportunity for growth. Yes, they will stub their toes on occasion. Do you trust them enough to figure it out and suggest a different path?
And here is the best part about you as the leader showing your people that you trust them . . . that trust then cascades throughout the organization. When you trust your lead team to bring their very best to the organization, they are more likely to offer that same trust to the people they work with, and so on, throughout the organization. And trust brings energy, and engagement, and commitment . . . all of those things that you need to maximize your impact as a leader.
Trust your people.