Leadership Boot Camp: Trust me

imgresDust off your tennis shoes. It’s time for Leadership Boot Camp. The great thing about boot camps is the way they bring intentional focus for a short period of time and produce great results. Our bodies experience this principle physically and I believe our leadership abilities can do the same. It takes commitment but the outcomes are worth it. If folks can improve blood pressure, weight and cholesterol, why can’t we as leaders increase the positive influence we have on our team?

So…who’s with me? Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. Spring is coming and who knows, you get inspired to try a physical boot camp too.

Week One – Trust me

imgres-1These two words are used and in fact over-used in the work place. It’s often said, if you have to say these words, there is room for worry.

Trust is a psychological contract we make with each other. In its simplest terms we want to know: Do I believe what you say? Do you have my best interest at heart? Do you do what you say you will do? And in the workplace that trust is seen through these two components: character and competence. Easy words to say but much more difficult to live up to. Let’s break them down.

Competence
In simple terms, do you know your stuff?  Competence includes the knowledge and application involved in doing what you do.  And as a leader, that competence involves two areas of expertise: the tactical job you do (accountant, analyst, etc.) and the ability to lead (supervise, manage, direct, etc.).  Your team bases part of their confidence in you based on the expertise you bring to the table.  While this doesn’t mean you always have the answer, those around you see a willingness to find the right answer and strive for ongoing growth.

Want to grow your competence muscle?  Add these exercises to your routine:

  1. Each week ask yourself, “What has my team learned from me?”  This is an indication that you are teaching your team and development their skill or awareness in some area.
  2. Make an education goal for yourself every 30 days – focus either on a technical aspect of your job or your leadership capability.  You may learn a new feature about a system you use, take a customer relationship to the next level, or even read a leadership blog each week.  Your team should see you getting better in some way.  It builds their trust in your capabilities.

Character
The harder of the two elements, character is the fragile factor of trust.  Your character includes every word and action that confirms to the team you are who you say you are.  It’s those little and big interactions your team balances  over time and determines, do you, my manager, have my best interests at heart?  Do I believe you?

Let’s face it. This one is tough because we are human and we do mean well but sometimes we just mess up. Again, we’re not looking for perfection but consistency is vital.  So what does this mean? When I say I will follow up on something, do I?  When I’m wrong, do I admit it?  When someone on my team messes up, do I tell others about it?  It’s those actions over time that will either build up or destroy my team’s trust in me.

Tone your character muscles with these exercises:

  1. Have a system for follow up.  Write it down, ask for an email, dictate notes to your phone – but have a system to ensure you follow through with the commitments you make. Never rely on your memory.
  2. Each week ask yourself, “What have I learned from my team?” This is a great indication that your team is talking to you. What are they telling you – progress being made, early warnings of a problem, interests for growth?  Everyone on the team should be engaged with you. If not, what do I need to adjust to open that door?

Now what?  Any physical fitness goal requires daily activity.  Our Leadership Boot Camp demands the same.  Here’s your challenge: Focus on these four questions the next seven days.  I promise, you will be a little sore but you’ll be glad for it.

Let us know how you are doing!  This gym LOVES success stories!

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