A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about “Why I Fired My Top Salesperson.” And it all came down to a single reason, trust. I can’t think of one thing a successful leader needs to do more in a business than establish a culture of trust.
Leaders influence people. Trust is the foundation upon which the ability to influence others is built.
Simon Sinek puts it this way: “Being a good leader is like being a good parent. You catch glimmers of hope when you catch them doing something right, but you really don’t know if you’ve done a good job for like 30-years.”
Trust is comprised of two basic components: character and competence. Character means you make decisions that go beyond your own self-interests. Certainly, in firing my top salesperson, that wasn’t going to help my month or quarter. It wasn’t in my own self-interests for the present moment. But knowing that the long-term good of my radio stations was the value I was protecting, and maintaining the trust of the people who I worked with every day, made doing the right thing clear albeit difficult. Competence doesn’t mean having all the answers. Competence means having the experience and knowledge to make decisions that positively impact the performance of the enterprise and the courage to ask for help when you need it. (I always tell people I have an awesome contact file full of brilliant people to call when I need help.)
When your people trust your character and believe in your competence, they will follow you wherever you lead them.
Being a trusted leader is done with love.
I attended Weight Watcher meetings for the first time in my life this year. Like everyone else on the planet I wanted to drop a few pounds, but I also wanted to see if I could pick up any new information about nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. What I learned was that change occurs by what you consistently do every day. That message was shared by others in the room that had lost lots of weight, all taking the same journey and it was shared with love. Simon Sinek also says when we are surrounded by people who believe what we believe and we feel loved, trust develops.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book “The Tipping Point” that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to get really good at something. You can’t rush trust building anymore than you can rush how long it takes to make a baby. Babies are born when they are good and ready. And you can’t build trust via email, Facebook, Twitter or any other form of modern day communication. You build trust when people come together through human contact. It’s why webinars lose one of the main benefits of seminars, that being people coming together and meeting one another. (Besides, I don’t know about you, but I’m always doing at least two other things when I’m on a webinar.)
Again, when we’re surrounded by people who believe what we believe trust develops.
Be Like Ed Koch
Ed Koch was a three-time mayor of New York City. Mayor Koch was famous for asking people everywhere he went “How Am I Doing?” He got in their faces and asked. Over and over and over; Mayor Koch asked “How Am I Doing?”
You build trust by being consistent.
The best teachers teach by sharing their mistakes and what they learned. People don’t connect with perfection. People connect with people who’ve been there, screwed it up, learned from it and shared the experience. Real courage is being able to share your mistakes with others and like who you are in the process of doing that.
When you reveal yourself in this way, you demonstrate what you believe and value.
In other words, you build trust.