Trying to move people forward without trust increases resistance.
It’s like trying to drag a toddler out of the house when they’re not ready to go. It’s messy, slow, more people get involved than need to, and everyone ends up frustrated. Eventually, the tribe make it out alive, but everyone knows it doesn’t need to be that hard.
Trust, on the other hand, speeds business up.
When people trust each other, and trust the environment around them, they naturally want to contribute and collaborate.
When we trust, we try new things, stretch further, speak up, lean in together, risk and grow.
Sadly, most people don’t experience this kind of environment at work.
I find many busy leaders silently expect their people to operate in the same way they do, leaving them confused and underwhelmed when their expectations are consistently unmet.
Everyone moves at a different pace and if a leader expects everyone to keep up, some people are likely to react by containing their performance to what’s familiar and comfortable. To elicit higher performance, it’s important for leaders to learn how to connect and communicate beyond their silent expectations, and create an environment of trust.
Nick Morgan, author of Power Cues, says it’s never been harder to influence others, because they’ve never been more distracted. At the same time, it’s more important than ever to be able to command influence, because of the increased pressure on getting results.
Leadership is the art of cutting through distractions and influencing the thinking and behaviour of others to achieve results. But leaders can’t do that without engagement, and people aren’t engaged if trust is missing.
People thrive when those in authority do things with them,
rather than to them or for them.
From the outside looking in, people might go through the motions, make busy look productive and say what they think they should. But if they don’t trust, they will not give all that was hoped when they were hired, or what they themselves intended to give when they jumped on board. With engagement worldwide at 13% according to Gallup, it’s clear most people aren’t experiencing trust at work.
So, how do we build trust? How do we create an environment where all of our people want to move forward and give more because it excites and inspires them? Because they believe in, and are compelled by, a new future.
A restorative practices premise is that people thrive when those in authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.
Doing things with people includes getting up from the opposite side of the desk (literally and metaphorically) and sitting beside people, taking a moment to find out what makes them tick. It includes learning to listen with presence, asking quality questions and making space in our minds to hear the answer, rather than being ready with the next question. It means finding ways to help people navigate what one person might find easy, but another finds difficult.
Doing things with people means noticing when we’re trying to drag people forward, and instead, taking time to learn how to unlock their unique potential. Rather than trying to force engagement and performance through motivation, we need to find ways to ignite inspiration.
People want to grow and develop, even those that say they don’t. It’s innately human to grow and expand. What gets in the way is fear. Fear of failing, of looking ridiculous, of being judged and ostracised. Fear of disappointing, of upsetting, of losing, or even of succeeding and then being asked to do more.
Trust transcends fear. Trust creates a sense of safety. When people feel supported when they fail just as much as when they succeed, they are more likely to traverse the challenges and go beyond where their fears would otherwise allow, beyond what was previously comfortable.
When a leader walks beside their people, creating and fostering an environment of trust through daily conscious thoughts and actions, there’s no need to drag anyone toward a goal, to convince or push. When people trust their leader, and the spaces in which they work, they will leap forward, knowing for sure their leader has their back.