What to do When Trust is Lost
As business leaders, you don't always walk into an organization that trusts leaders. Sometimes, a team you have worked with for a long time loses trust in themselves or in their leadership. So how do you work through this?
1. Embrace Vulnerability
Working as a leadership coach over the years I've found that one thing that makes leaders at various levels uncomfortable is being vulnerable. Some even go so far as to say that they think it is inappropriate for leaders to show any vulnerability. I disagree. People relate to humans not scripts.
Howard Schultz, the former chairman and CEO of Starbucks talks about how he addressed a large majority of the Seattle Starbucks staff, in tears in 2008 when the company was not thriving. He spoke to the employees gathered, which included staff at all levels, in more detail than most of the coffee giant's leadership was comfortable with. He brought the real issues of the company to the table without sugarcoating them or assuming that the staff couldn't handle them because he knew he needed every employee to help create and execute solutions. He also admitted how he believed he had personally failed in that time. I don't need to tell you that the company has since continued be not only successful. And Schultz has remained a leader that other leaders study and look to for guidance.
Vulnerability does have a place in business but it takes a strong leader to demonstrate it.
2. Help Each Individual Regain Their Self-Confidence
When teams are constantly stressed, overworked, or told no, they tend second guess the impact that they can have on an organization. I recently heard burnout defined as demands outweighing the resources needed to meet them.
As a leader, you should be busting barriers for your team and helping to identify the resources they need to succeed. Do you know which demands are weighing the most heavily on your team? Do you know what they need to successfully do the work that drives them? Having these conversations and providing these resources can reinvigorate even the most downtrodden of teams.
3. Assume the Best. Really.
If you really think that nothing can be done to improve a situation, you will inevitably create a self-fulfilling mindset. I've worked with some very disgruntled leaders before that are convinced that their team will never change, that nothing works with them, and they just are stuck with a bunch of bad apples. The stubborn outlook of these leaders just bred more and more of the negativity, and team turmoil, that they always griped about.
Here's the thing though - when you adopt this outlook, you are really just showing your own fixed mindset. And frankly, a lack of confidence in your own ability to flex and become a different leader; one that your team of possibly not-such-bad-apples might need.
By assuming the best in your team, you give yourself space to grow, and assume the next level of leadership in yourself. But you have to believe that action can be taken. And as the leader, that action has to start with you. I recommend fixing your mindset as your first step.
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