…followed by a Firm Handshake!
One of my favorite artifacts in my office is a sculpture of a handshake, a Christmas gift from my three sons. They know the handshake holds high value to me as a symbol of the right kind of leader to be. It is not an accident it is part of the RPC Leadership Associates Inc. brand. While difficult to trace the exact origin of the handshake, we can easily trace its origins back as far as medieval times when knights and royalty would shake as a gesture to let the other know there were no weapons present. In other words, it was a sign of trust. It is trust, which we as a culture continue to struggle with today.
We seldom go a day without seeing a headline or a story related to trust, typically a displayed lack of it. Headlines in business, politics or sports conjure up images of a broken trust between leaders and the relationships with the people who helped them succeed in the first place. So I believe it is here we should begin our discussion of trust by looking at what it means to have a meaningful relationship as a leader.
If we look at the buying process used by many in business for making a value based decision, we find it begins with the first thing people buy – you! It is through the strength of the relationship that starts the trust building process. Building trust is much like saving money in a piggy bank. Every moment of truth, every interaction with another person and every transaction in a relationship helps build the trust bank account. I like the way it was described recently as “we add trust to a relationship a nickel at a time, but we lose trust in that same relationship a dollar at a time”. If leaders are looking for trust in the relationships with their teams the first place they need to look is in the mirror. Are you the type of leader who is trustworthy? I spoke last month of the importance of self-awareness as the authentic leader’s greatest tool. This is crucial as it helps a leader’s ability to leverage candor and empathy as crucial elements to building trust. If people in an organization trust their leader as a person, they stand a much better chance of trusting their organization as a whole. The results of the Gallup poll on Employee Engagement regularly suggest only 30% of employees are fully engaged in their organization. What organization in this day and age can afford to have 30% engagement? Yet by disregarding the very elements that build trust within the culture of their organization, they may as well hang a sign outside their door stating “Employee Engagement Doesn’t Matter Here”.
Finally, a fitting quote from David Armistead I often use, “Trust each other again and again. When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities for which they were previously unaware”.
What undiscovered new abilities are you still unaware due to your level of trust?