FROM THE COACH’S CLIPBOARD
When I was growing up in the 50’s there was a TV program known as, “To Tell The Truth.” It featured four celebrities attempting to correctly identify a described contestant with an unusual occupation. The central character was accompanied by two impostors who pretended to be the central character. The impostors are allowed to lie, but the central character is sworn ‘to tell the truth.’
Traveling 250+ days per year since 2005, I’ve talked with several thousand leaders at all levels. Trust is a major topic in almost every conversation. Most people do not feel their leader is an imposter. However, many feel their leader struggles to communicate with clarity at a level they understand. Great leaders know that the grapevine is more powerful than any official channel, however, they never use it as an excuse for poor or inadequate communication, or spinning the truth.
When trust is present you can’t contain it, it overflows to every part of the organization. Without it you have to have more corporate policemen manning the grapevine explaining the truth while trust diminishes at best or worse, is nonexistent. Leaders who want to build sustainable trust are visible to all the stakeholders and available and accountable to their core team. Absentee leaders, or leaders insulated by an assistant who also functions as a part-time Prussian guard, erodes team spirit and with it mutual trust.
Building trust often requires that leaders share truthful ‘inside information’ and include their core leaders in key decision-making, especially the significant decisions affecting everyones personal future. Caution, trusting unproven or inexperienced people can be tantamount to pinning a kick me sign on your back. On the other hand not trusting your proven core leaders diminishes their trust in you and their passion for the mission.
Breaking trust should be addressed immediately and a clear path to restoration established sooner rather than later because trust issues never get better with age. Trust broken the second time should bring an immediate release of the offending team member, or resignation by the offending team leader. The best way to confirm and affirm those whom you trust is their ability to keep a confidence. The best time to assess their trustworthiness is before a situation arises for the need ‘to tell the truth.’
Never risk your leadership with people you don’t trust, or with people who don’t trust you. Honesty is telling the truth. Integrity is telling the truth every time
without a lot of explanation. If you have to explain it, ‘it probably ain’t so.’ There is no quicker way to violate trust than having to explain the Truth too many times. As a leader you may need to explain your decisions but never the truth regardless of how much it hurts.