Building Trust

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“Leading others is about building trust.  Trust is built through accountability, feedback and conflict resolution.”

The books, research and articles on the topic of leadership can be overwhelming.  We try to distill and simplify leadership into a framework then move toward tools or practice.  Leadership without followers does not exist and thusly leading others is critical to success.

Accountability is about setting and upholding performance standards.  If you have not set the standards you cannot uphold them.  If you have set them and you are not upholding them then it could be about the ‘why?’ The executives and managers that we work with commonly resist accountability because they are afraid.  The fear is either rejection or feeling uncomfortable.  Either fear must be approached to be a strong leader.

Tools are helpful to generate accountability.  Here are a few tools we use to uphold accountability:

1.     The Top 5: The Top 5 can be completed as a standing meeting or as a call.  Essentially, each person in the meeting goes around the room and shares their focus for the week.  They answer the question – “What 5 things do you need to accomplish to ensure a successful week?”

2.     Friday Success Email:  This is a great tool as it provides both the leader and the email author a chance to see progress.  The email is a short paragraph of all that has been accomplished that week.  Many leaders ask their direct reports to include their Top 5 in the email to track progress.

3.     1:1 Guide Follow Up: Using a template for your 1:1s allows managers to track success and commitments.  One manager I know, sends the commitment list to their direct report 24 hours prior to the meeting indicating that he looks forward to updates on the previous 1:1 meeting commitments.

Feedback is used as a tool to help leaders get better.   As people, we need about 4 positive remarks to every 1 that is constructive.  The reason for this is based on the hard-wiring of our brain.  Our brains start with anxiety and fear and then moves to productivity.  We are hard on ourselves by default.  A leader can help relinquish some of this suffering by providing positive feedback.

Tools:  There are some great tools to give feedback.  We have two that we prefer:

1.     Continue, Start and Stop:  You start the conversation with the areas where you want the person to continue (positive behavior or performance) and move to the behaviors that you would like them to start doing.  From there you move to the behaviors that you would like for them to stop doing immediately.

2.     Situation, Behavior and Impact:   As you begin the conversation, you share with the person the moment in time (situation) – For example: ‘At the meeting yesterday…’ Then move to the behavior, which is observable.  And then the impact which describes how their behavior impacted you personally.  If you put it all together it could look something like – “At the meeting yesterday, you were 15 minutes late, I felt frustrated.”

Conflict is not always a bad thing.  In fact, studies show that once conflict is resolve relationships and results increase.  The fear of what the conversation could be like is often more intense than the actual moment.  The reason is tied to our brain projecting fear of the unknown into the future.  This takes us out of the moment into uncertainty.   Resolving conflict is as much about speaking your truth as uncovering the truth through reflective listening and questioning.

As you review these 3 keys to leadership impact, what stands out?