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Building trust at all levels of the organization is an ongoing challenge. The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer identified that employees are 2 times more likely to trust their peers vs. their CEO. They believe what they hear at the water cooler, not what comes through an email or internal memo.
But building trust is not easy. We are living through the democratization of the world’s information, which is heightening expectations of transparency, putting demands on leaders to communicate more information, more often, and in engaging and personal formats. Regular open communication naturally builds trust and loyalty because people simply appreciate hearing the truth. But it also creates some risk as you also have to deal with legally imposed quiet periods, or leaders who aren’t naturally comfortable being so vulnerable. It requires proper training and a commitment.
The challenge lies in balancing what can be legally shared and the leader’s ability to be comfortable out of their comfort zone. If you can find that balance you have the opportunity to create an empowered and engaged workforce.
Leading is about providing people with a sense of purpose, inspiration, and motivation to keep moving forward towards a common goal. You set the direction and you consistently communicate the vision and ensure everyone knows their role in bringing that vision to life.
Managing is about assigning and clarifying roles, developing processes and structure, and making choices about resources.
But in today’s fast-moving economy, the separation between leading and managing is not that clear cut – sometimes you just need to be ambidextrous – a leader must manage and a manager must lead.
I admire leaders who inspire creativity by ensuring everyone feels as though their contribution matters and that they are recognized for their ideas. They build diverse teams and welcome diverse opinions. They create an environment that encourages risk taking and eliminate the fear of failure. They stimulate visionary thinking by removing any constraints by encouraging broad thinking. One of my favorite quotes is from U2’s frontman: “Vision over visibility – look beyond what you can see to imagine what could be.”
I believe it is important to truly get to know the people on your team – what they are passionate about, what they want to learn and what their career aspirations are. Then you do your best to create an environment where they can thrive – where their contributions are appreciated, they‘re managed by objectives, offered flexibility and feel supported each and every day. That’s a mix that seems to work but you’ll have to ask my team if I’m effective!
- Starting something from nothing
- Inspiring and developing people
It’s always a struggle balancing the people needs and the business needs. I aim to support each team member’s professional development and ensure I’m providing each of them with stimulating work and enough room to grow. Sometimes that’s difficult because I’m also leading them through change while they are managing the day-to-day deliverables. For me it’s about finding the right balance – I believe it is equally important to ensure the job gets done and you deliver exceptional results as it is to ensure your people feel valued and that they’re on a meaningful career path.
It’s a lot like being a parent; you never think you’re good enough.