How do you know people trust you? Did they tell you? Chances are it’s not something that comes up in regular conversation. Yet trust in a leader is one of THE top benchmarks of a leader’s power and influence.
Here’s a quick trust assessment – and 3 powerful tips (in case your scores aren’t quite where you want them to be).
Indicate your personal score using a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is extremely low and 10 is extremely high.
Others would say that my words and actions are consistent.
I am truthful when I share information with my staff.
I listen to staff regularly to find out their viewpoints
After any meeting, I could share what others felt was important
I am certain my staff understands the important information that they need to know about our organizational goals.
Nearly everyone I work with trusts me to a high level.
Add up the numbers from your 6 responses to determine your total score, and then review the rating to identify your communication score:
50 – 60 – Trusted Communicator
40 – 59 – Effective Communicator
20 – 39 – Good Intentions
06 – 19 – Time to Revamp
And, if you want a more serious assessment of trust, try check your Organizational Vital Signs.
Ready to Earn More Trust?
“What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Followers watch to see if a leader’s words match what he says. If what he says is, “I trust you” but what he does is micromanage and hover to make sure things are done his/her way, then what people hear is “I don’t trust you.” ASLTW (Actions speak louder than words.)
Imagine asking your staff: Are there tasks or decisions that are made up the chain – that you can take care yourselves? And then imagine giving them the authority to do so. What would it tell them? It may mean that they fail, but a great leader allows their followers to fail and supports them learn from their mistakes. If you allow them to fail and learn from the start, they fall a millimeter and not a mile.
To do so, you need to make communication safe.
Try these three tips:
1. Tell why you can’t tell
Employees should be given as much information as possible on what is happening in the company. Yet there are many times when a leader has to manage what he says, but even that needs to be communicated. The best leaders share what they can when they can and also explain why they can’t.
When I was interviewing Harry Herington from NIC, he told me about a townhall meeting where he was asked a question about an investment. Harry told them that before he answered, he wanted them to carefully consider whether or not they wanted to be told, because once they had that information it would affect what they would be allowed to do with their investments (since they’d now have “insider information”). He was ready, willing and able to answer, but they withdrew the question. How many leaders would have said, “I can’t tell you that” without an explanation? Not surprisingly, Herington is known as a High Trust Leader.
2. Respond even if you disagree
I’ve always been someone who seeks feedback. But I don’t always take the advice and I haven’t always been good at getting back to people about why. Some times I wasn’t able to afford to implement their great ideas. It would have been better if I told them that. Instead, the message that I sent was “I don’t trust or like the quality of your input.” Learn from my mistake. Share why you chose not to follow their advice, whatever the reason.
3. Check the telephone game
Communication is two ways. Unless people understand what you are telling them, then you are the proverbial tree in the forest. Ask yourself, “Could they explain to others what I just told them?”
Remember the “Telephone game” we used to play as children? It had us whispering something in the ear of the child next to us. They in turn had to whisper it in the ear of the child next to them and so on and so on until it had gone around the room of the 30 + in the class. The last child had to stand up and say what they had heard. It showed us how even simple messages could get twisted around. Become such a great communicator that the message is the same in the first ear and the last.
The Bottom Line
Communication is an essential skill for trusted leaders. You have to communicate that you care by listening and talking to your staff. Be consistent in your message, committed to communicate not once but until there is understanding and competent in how you word the message.
I read a great quote by Ralph Beslin of Beslin Communications Inc.
“Communications can’t make a person trust someone who is basically untrustworthy. But it can help create a culture in which trust can thrive”
If you want to be a leader that followers follow, then become a commanding communicator.