At Leadership Vision, the topic of trust is a consistent struggle for the people, teams and organizations we work with. It comes up during 1-to-1 conversations, and as an indicator about the health of a culture. Trust is quite a popular topic of discussion. But how do we achieve it?
Whenever I hear someone mention “trust,” I immediately think of “trust falls.” You know, that “team building” activity which used to be really popular among team building facilitators, but not so much among participants. If you have ever been involved in this exercise, I am sure you will not forget the experience. Maybe it went something like this:
Falling A Lot
Throughout my life, I have fallen a lot, both physically and professionally. Growing up, I played hockey, and fell a lot. I fell trying to skate, when others instigated it, and trying to make a play. What I learned in hockey was that no matter how many times I fell, I trusted my ability to get back up and get back in the game.
As a professional, I have also fallen a lot. I fall just trying to do my job, because circumstances have tripped me up, or when taking a risk. But as a leader, I have learned to trust that whenever I fall, I also need to get back up and get back in the game.
Leaders Trust Falls
Good leaders know that a fall is both an ending and a beginning. When leaders fall, the momentum of what they were working on stops, but they get up and something new begins. Experienced leaders trust falls.
As a leader, I have always struggled with trusting myself and others. Whenever I fall, I know there will be something to learn: how can we trust ourselves? How can we trust the lesson of the fall? How can we trust our potential to carry on as a leader?
Here are three things we need to learn to trust.
Lesson #1: Person – Trust Yourself
I know this sounds simple, but we all need to start with trusting ourselves. To this day I work on how I can trust who I am: my innate skills, abilities, talents and strengths.
For many years as a leader I practiced trusting others more than trusting myself. I would invest is other’s skills, capacities, abilities and potential. But I would not do the same for myself because I found trusting in others was easier than trusting in myself. I hid behind the trust I projected instead of trusting myself and was unaware of the instability this created within a team. And I was unaware of the weakness this caused within me.
Lesson #2: Place – Trust Where You Are
Leaders know where they are right now; not too much in the past, not too much in the future, but a healthy balance of being in the present.
Think of a children’s mobile, with two arms… the apex is who you are right now.
One arm of the mobile is the past, all that has brought you to this point and your life’s experiences. On the other arm is the future, all that could be, opportunities to come, plans you have made, and the unknown that could be.
A leader’s challenge is to discover and trust the healthy balance that is needed today. Knowing and trusting where you are, who is around you, and what is before you, is so important to a leader’s effectiveness.
But this takes balance.
It is easy to become out of balance when we place too much trust in either the past or the future.
Leaders are aware of the need to have both feet firmly planted in the here and now. Too many opportunities are missed because leaders are not focused on where they are or are overworked because they stay too long in one place.
Lesson #3: Promise – Trust The Timing
Effective leaders are sensory and have a great sense of time. Not only for themselves, but for others. Great leaders pay attention to the timing of sensory harmony (an awareness of the components required to come together in order to create something that each individual component could not provide on their own) and sensory dissonance (a leader’s awareness and attention to what is not right).
Great leaders know when the timing is right, can call it out, name it, leverage it and engage the time for the life and benefit of others. Sensory harmony is a call to pay attention to the timing right now, and remain. When you feel this, pay attention and take action.
Great leaders are also those who realize when something is not making sense, or doesn’t feel right. This sensory dissonance is a provocateur of something else that needs to happen… now! When this dissonance occurs, great leaders name this as well. Identifying what is not quite right, or at least pointing people in the direction of the dissonance and asking them what they hear.
Either way, great leaders pay attention to time, know when things are not making sense and have the ability to bring people together for a time to bring a resolution and solution.
Leaders Trust Falls
The great leaders trust themselves to get up once they fall. Great leaders trust where they fall, that the place of their fall is important, that there is learning to be had where they are. Great leaders trust the timing of their fall, that the fall is happening now for a reason. The best leaders we have worked with trust their fall, and learn the valuable lessons that falls will teach them.
Experienced leaders trust falls.
Wise leaders trust and risk a fall.
Courageous leaders trust both the fall and the getting up.
Do you trust falls?