A small, five letter word that carries more weight than almost anything else in our lives. A huge component of good leadership is building trust. Most of the time, the focus of the conversation is about building trust within a team, with colleagues, etc. Rarely, does that conversation shift to the other side of the coin.
*Enter Ashley, stage right*
Today, I would like to focus on that often forgotten side – deciding who and what you should trust. How do you decide where to place your trust? No, it’s not a rhetorical question. I want you to honestly answer. What are the qualities that you look for in a person that you consider trustworthy? How do you decide if a program or practice is worthy of your time & effort? Who do you listen to as a respected authority? The list you develop is undoubtedly related to the sum total of your experiences as a person, including your morals, values, and experiences. That means that everyone’s answer will be unique to them. Some people will base things on competence. You’re looking for accomplishments, accolades, degrees, etc. Others will focus on relationships. They’re looking for past experiences, relatability, and even trusting their gut feelings about a person. Still others will mention some combination of both. There is no right or wrong answer. The point of this post is not to steer you down any single path; it’s to get you to reflect about how you make decisions, specifically as they relate to trust.
I, for one, fall into the category of people that first look for competency-based trust. How do I know that you are qualified in this area? Why should I listen to you? Do I trust this person, software, etc. to do its job? What do the data, reviews, etc. say? I could continue, but the list would be longer than this post. My gut feeling is great, but if it’s not backed up by facts I don’t completely trust it. That often leads me down the same path when it’s time to make decisions. As a leader that can be helpful, but it can also be a hinderance to decision-making. Additionally, it makes me considerably less likely to take uncalculated risks. It’s something that I have been focusing on as a growth area. No, that doesn’t mean I don’t require facts to move forward (though I am sure that there are many people who wish that were the case, lol). It’s means I’m a work in progress, and I’m learning to value other’s decisions regarding where to place trust.
As a focus for my professional growth, this path has led me to become a better leader for my team. Understanding how they make trust-based decisions, and trusting that they are making the right decisions is a big part of being a leader and growing leaders. As such, my focus has shifted away from “what would I do in this situation,” and entered a new territory that I am honestly not sure how to describe. It has taken work for me to sit back and just observe. I’ve learned that this new realm requires balance. There are times to trust, and there are times to step in. I have made blunders in both areas, but I continue to learn and grow from these missteps. It is my intent to continue to learn and grow in this area.
So often in our careers we find ourselves experiencing the same things & the same types of disappointment over time. We often look outward for the cause. However, many times the answers that we are looking for can only be found by looking inward. Let’s all take a moment to look inward.
Where do you need to grow as it relates to trust? What steps can you take to hold yourself accountable for growth in this part of your journey?
I invite you to start right here and right now. Leave a comment to let me know what you will do to stretch yourself. Be sure to add your thoughts to your personal journal so that you can hold yourself accountable for the new trust goal(s) that you set. I look forward to hearing from you!