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Leadership and building trust

Sometime back, I was in a coaching call with a client
He is a senior director with a tech company and had recently taken over a new role and a new team
“I feel that I am not able to connect with my new team effectively” he said “especially since many of my team members are still working remotely”
“Tell me more” I probed him
“Well, I have to constantly check on them as I am not sure what they are doing” he said “So it appears that I am micromanaging the team, which is obviously not my intent”
“How is this impacting you?” I asked
“The overall performance and productivity of the team is getting impacted” he continued
This might seem like a common scenario to you, right ?
Remote working has created its own challenges in terms of people management and every leader, every organization is trying to figure out the best way to manage teams remotely
And it is easy to attribute lack of connectivity or rapport with teams to remote working as a single cause
But there is a more fundamental issue here….
Lack of trust
And that is more about your own leadership style than anything else
Let me explain further....
In my experience of coaching and consulting with senior leaders, there are 3 distinct styles of leadership when it comes to trust
The 100% style
You trust your people completely by default stand (100% trust)
This needs a lot of courage, as the onus “to trust” is on you
It obviously holds good till someone breaks your trust
Once that trust is broken, the onus shifts on the team member to repair the relationship and gain the trust back
The 0% style
You do not trust your people by default. Your starting position is 0% trust
You expect people to do things to gain your trust over time
The onus to gain your trust is entirely on your team members
If anything goes wrong, it is easy for you to put the blame on people
“I told you so” or “I knew it” kind of attitude
The X% style
This is where you do not start from 0%. You also do not trust your team 100%
You are somewhere in between
You know them well. You like them. But you do not trust them completely
Again, the onus to gain your trust is on your team members, but they are not starting from 0%
They have a head start
Now this is just one side of the story
Trust is a 2-way street
Let us look at the other side
What about your team members ?
What is their position on trust ?
Do they trust you or not ?
Obviously, there is no direct way to know it
You need to observe their behavior, their actions and their words and derive conclusions from it

You need to get feedback from them

But if you simply adopt that approach, the burden is still on your team members to give you clues or feedback whether they trust you or not
And it can be long drawn process before you can make any meaningful conclusion
Most importantly – whether they trust you or not is something which is not under your direct control
So what is a better approach ?
Take ownership to win their trust
You can even assume their starting position is 0%. They do not trust you by default
Ask yourself this question - "What can I do to gain their trust ?"
And when you take this stand, you can influence them positively by your actions and behaviors as a leader

It may take a lot of courage and effort to gain their trust  
But remember....

The key is to be genuine and authentic
You truly want to build deep meaningful relationships with your people
You want to gain their trust

You see….
Being aware of your own approach to trust as a leader is the key
Being aware of your true intention as a leader is important
So here is your weekly reflection :
1) What is your default position on trust ? 100%, 0% or X%. Be genuine and honest, when you reflect
2) Do your team members trust you or not ? How do you even know it ?
3) What actions do you take or can take to gain their trust ? What more can you do in this space going forward ?
4) What is your true intention when it comes to managing people ?
I would be interested to know what came up for you as you read and reflected on this email

Till then
Stay safe and stay healthy
Harsh

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