Episode 5 – Trust

Welcome to episode 5 of the ELC podcast.  I am your host and intentional leader, Rob Fisher, coming to you from the AEROhp.com Studios in the FIT Center for Excellence, here in Concord, NC!
In the last episode, we described the third attribute of the ELC – Clear Roles and Processes.  I hope listeners immediately used some of the recommendations at the end of the podcast to start making changes in their intentional leadership. By now, you should have downloaded the E-Colors app and are using that information to manage your strengths and potential limiters in your day-to-day interactions. In this episode, I am going to discuss the next attribute of the essential leadership cycle – Trust. Once we are moving towards a better awareness of ourselves and our team, and we are working on creating and verifying a shared vision and values, we are generating and using clearer roles and processes – we can start to generate trust. In the essential leadership cycle, there is an acknowledgment that trust is developed, not demanded. When trust is developed through being self and team aware, having a real shared vision and values set, and having clear roles and processes, then it is a sustainable trust that is not dependent on how people ‘feel’ day-to-day. People can fall back on the process that developed the trust instead of just believing they would up there. Did you now that of the 4 major personality types, 2 of them have no problem at all asking you to trust them. And they don’t mind you asking them to trust you. They tend to think that trust can be requested (or in some organizations demanded) and will tend to trust until that trust is broken. When trust is broken, these personality types usually limit the breach of trust to that component of trust that was broken. On the other hand – the other two major personality types tend not to trust until it is earned, and feel like you asking for their trust without earning it is enough for them not to trust you!  Think about it – which one are you? How about some of the people you know? How does this difference impact your life and your business? Of these last two personalities – one tends to lose all trust at the first sign that some trust is broken. With the other, it is VERY difficult to rebuild that trust or new trust for the future.
I am a pretty trusting person. I tend to trust first, and basically think people are good in general and usually have good intentions. I will pause here and let that soak in. Let you think about what YOU think about that statement. My prediction is that fully half of you are sitting there right now thinking – “what – in this world?” or “I don’t trust anybody”… but the rest of you are actually shaking your heads as you listen, and completely understand that mental approach.  It is really a case of self and team awareness to understand first that we can be a bit different in our approach to trust and how we see it, but second that if we don’t understand that there are different views of trust based on our personality tendencies, we may miss many opportunities to improve our companies and our lives. I sometimes lock my truck – I sometimes don’t. It doesn’t matter much to me. I don’t usually leave much of value in it, so even if some nefarious soul wanted to break into it, they wouldn’t get much. So to ME, locking the truck wasn’t a big deal.  My wife, on the other hand, would always ask, “did you lock your truck?” For years I never really understood why she made such a thing out of it.  I mean – we always knew we were ‘different’  – that we had different personalities, but until we got educated into what those personality tendencies are and how we can manage them, we mostly avoided the personality element. One day a few years ago, after we had learned more about our personality tendencies and how to manage them, we discussed why she always asks me if the truck is locked. I discovered (remember self and team awareness) that she felt SAFER when she knew my truck was locked. She felt SAFER when could TRUST that I would lock my truck.  As long as my behavior regarding locking the truck was a bit aloof, she wasn’t convinced that she was SAFE as a result of my actions – translated – she didn’t TRUST that I was protecting her (remember shared vision and values?). I was a bit devastated that something that I thought was so simple and almost rather silly, was so important to her. She explained that the reason she felt unsafe wasn’t that someone might break into the truck and get some of our stuff – it was that the truck has the garage door opener, and someone could use that to access our home. THAT’S what made her feel unsafe. I didn’t realize that (remember self and team awareness) and also didn’t realize that safety and security for my wife and family were the real issues (remember shared vision and values). I immediately started using a different PROCESS for ensuring that she KNEW that the truck was locked (or the door was locked, or the garage door was closed) by verbalizing to her when I do it, and certainly no longer questioning her motives when she asked me. My role is to let her know that I am doing the things necessary to make her FEEL safe; her role is to continue to question whether the actions are done in case her fallible husband forgets. In essence, we have better TRUST that has developed through self and team awareness, shared vision and values, and clear roles and processes.
Have you ever known of an organization that is surprised by a low trust score on an engagement or safety culture survey?  Think about it – if we had a good self and team awareness, we worked on and verified that we have a shared vision and values system, and we use those to create clear roles and processes, we would probably never be surprised! I routinely see different interpretations of what it means to trust and to be trusted. Specifically, these misinterpretations are between leaders and the rest of the workforce, whether or not it is a reoriented business that seems not to matter. When I talk to the leaders, they don’t understand and sometimes don’t even recognize that some of the way they say or do things (remember the importance of leadership knowledge, language and behavior) was adversely impacting trust.  Take the simple use of the term “constant enforcement of life-saving rules” – management thought that was being done to save people’s lives. But the workforce heard the constant enforcement as an attempt to get rid of people that the management didn’t think were following rules. Once the leaders, through engagement, discovered this mismatch in the vision and values, they reframed the message to “continually re-enforce the importance of life-saving rules and methods.
Don’t forget – your version, definition, or perception of trust and how it developed, maintained, lost, and regained may be very different than that of those around you in business and life.  It is worth the effort to intentionally engage with others to make sure that you understand their version of trust, and to ensure you have a good handle on a shared vision and values system. We hear a lot about “talking the talk and walking the walk.” For the attribute of trust to exist within the organization, everything hinges on whether the leader language and behaviors match. Leaders need to remember that everyone will be watching and listening
So what can you do today? First – have a talk with some others of different e-colors or personality types on THEIR version of trust. Ask them what it looks like to them, what it feels like to them, and what it takes for them to develop trust in someone, something, or an organization. Whatever you do – DO NOT put people on the spot and ask them, “do you trust me?” First – you may not like the answer, but more importantly, different individuals with different personality tendencies do not like to be put on the spot, and you may not get the real answer anyway. Since we are trying to develop good self and team awareness and a good shared vision and values, starting with a question that drives about half of the population to either not want to answer the question, or not want to answer it honestly, is not a good start. Go out and have a values-based engagement with some of your workforce at all levels. Ask them a question like – what do we as leaders do to show you that we believe in our lifesaving rules? Or What are we not doing as a leadership team to ensure you are protected? – Then shut up and listen. You will be amazed at some of the responses. You may also be shocked at how actionable the information you get is. Until next time, this has been your host, Rob Fisher. Thanks for listening, and, remember Intentional Leadership starts with YOU!
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