Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Leadership Lesson 6: Building Trust

Leadership Expectation: Be Accountable

Many of us have participated in some sort of “trust building” activity. We’ve done trust falls, ice breaker questions designed for us to show vulnerability, and even attended workshops and seminars on trust. There are countless lists of ways we can show up in a relationship to help build trust with our peers, coworkers, friends, congregants, and family members. I have found that most of them center on integrity and communication: accountability for our actions in speech and deed.

We extend trust to those we “deem worthy” as we observe their behaviors. Did they complete the task they were assigned/agreed to by the due date? Did they listen when concerns were raised about something they were working on? Did they answer questions with honesty to the best of their ability, including saying, “I don’t know” when they reached the limits of their knowledge? All of these are examples of opportunities to build or to tear down trust.

Here is a useful list of behaviors that aid in building trust with others:

  1. Recognize that building trust takes hard work. Trust is something we must earn, and earning trust is borne from an investment of time and effort. 
  2. Be honest and supportive. Especially when the answer is no, honesty is always the best policy. Learning to deliver bad news with a foundation of support, EVEN WHEN someone has made a mistake, builds trust quickly after the ego-moment fades. 
  3. Be quiet sometimes. Listening to truly understand is one of the best gifts we can give to someone confiding in us. Check back frequently to ensure you are understanding what the speaker wishes to convey by paraphrasing what you just heard them say.
  4. Be consistent. Show up the same until the same needs adjusted, and then show up better. Sounds easy, right? Now, show up the same with the person who made the mistake and the one who did not.
  5. Model the behavior you seek. “Nothing speaks more loudly about the culture of an organization than the leader’s behavior, which influences employee action and has the potential to drive results” (Grossman, 2019). Be the employee you want your employees to be, including the words you use to talk about those who are not present. Finish your tasks on time, give others the opportunity to speak, speak up with firm kindness when mistakes are made, and be a part of the solution. Only then will you see these behaviors in others.
  6. Build in accountability. Acknowledge your mistakes and work on correcting them yourself instead of leaving them for someone else to handle. 

As leaders, the shadow we cast is much larger than we think. It is what we do when we make a mistake that measures our success in building trust. It is easy to display integrity when everything is going well. What about when it is not? Addressing something that needs repaired is the most crucial moment in building trust.

Tip #3: Building trust is more about what you do with a mistake than what you do with perfection.

Grossman, D. (2019). Trust in the workplace: 6 steps to building trust with employees. The Grossman Group. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Musings on "Thoughts and Prayers"

“Magic” is simply the way humanity has always explained scientific phenomena we don’t yet understand, and what can be more magical than divine intervention (or retribution, depending upon whether we view the results as positive or negative)? This is an age-old question upon which the bulk of the pre-axial religions were formed. Early cosmotheological religions such as those practiced by the Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) were sacrifice-based systems operating in cyclical time. At the appointed times throughout the year, various sacrificial reenactments were performed in order to literally hold up the cosmos. Evidence of this still exists in the early Vedic works in the Rig Veda.

The scientific revolution has illustrated how much of what we previously held as evidence of divine intervention is fueled by naturally occurring and explainable phenomena. The more we have found the mechanisms to be reproduceable in our laboratories, the less we have allowed ourselves as a society to assume a divinity is involved. Once, a solar eclipse would send everyone scrambling to hide and find ways to appease whichever divinity was offended. Now, we all go outside and take photographs with special lenses on our lunch breaks at work.

In our modern sensibilities regarding religious beliefs, we have less evidence of divinity in the mundane in a tangible way. Prayers and offerings made on someone’s behalf can help soothe the wounded spirit, but they will not bring about direct change.  Instead, offering our prayers to those who are in need helps create a sense of hope and community in a time of helplessness and isolation. As a community, offering our prayers to others is a form of emotional support that creates the conditions for the disenfranchised to be empowered to take action. ADF’s role in larger-scale events such as fires, earthquakes, and floods, begins with statements of support and community. Formal intervention, in my opinion, must take the shape of humans finding the resources for those in need. Other churches pass the plate to take donations for their congregants in difficult situations and still call the collective pool of assistance divine aid. The spirit has moved the generosity of the congregation to come to the aid of one of their own. ADF must do the same, if we are to bask in the glow of community. Afterall, it is during trials and stressful times that our character as an organization will be shown to the outside world.