The purpose of this narrative is to outline the key principles required for our leadership team to succeed in providing an exceptional evolution for our team members while providing a consistent excellence experience for our customers. We invite our colleagues, partners, customers and friends to consume and use it as well.
The foundational element for our leadership team is trust. As leaders, we must agree we are all on the same team. It is critical to know, we have each other’s back, we have each other’s best interest in mind, and fellow leaders are there to help each other. They are not there to simply be competitive, criticize or ridicule. This must be balanced with healthy accountability. This is not about a weak, soft, squishy set of guidelines, but a confidence in knowing we are here for each other.
To further capture the necessity of trust across our leaders, we must work diligently in moments of stress to believe the best in each other. What we focus on expands. Consistently thinking negative thoughts breeds negativity, negativity in our speech, our relationships, and ultimately our results. This does not mean holding a “rose-colored glasses” attitude about everything. It requires positive thinking, taking a moment to breathe and pause before addressing a tough issue, while being intentional to ensure things have been thought through.
Trust is developed through real performance and experience. The best measurement is doing what you say. If my fellow leaders consistently do what they say, it creates a tremendous foundation of positive expectations It builds a databank of confidence based on historical data points. I believe it takes ten (10) positive performance actions to overtake one (1) failed action. That ratio may change over time as more positive actions are experienced, making it easier to continue to build and grow trust. None of us are perfect and as a high performing, effective leadership team, it is critical we all understand perfection is not the goal. Working together cohesively, improving our communication, understanding each other better, and developing our relationships, are central to the focus.
We talk often about COTG, which is a mnemonic for Communication – Openness – Trust – Growth. We know we need to over-communicate when we have questions, don’t understand, or need to proactively let other team members know what’s going on. When in doubt go find out. How do we find out? With openness in having a conversation. This mindset fosters trust which in turn fuels our growth as a person and as a company.
We are bombarded by the media and our culture about “feelings”. Meanwhile, in business, we are told to “Go with your gut!” Many times, we confuse our feelings with our gut. Neither of these are the truth. Because our heart has so many inputs tugging at it, our feelings mislead us. Factor in our personality makeup and the complexity increases making discernment even more difficult.
For example, those with a high “conflict avoiding” personality will be more likely to be influenced by people who have the loudest and strongest voice, but not necessarily the best, wisest, or most truthful. This may lead us to make poor decisions. In addition, our frustration level based on our unique temperament may lead us to over-state and dramatize the issues of a given situation. To maximize success in pursuit of the truth, it is critical to tailor our approach to discovering the truth to the various personality types involved. We are not attempting to address all types in this document, but encourage our leaders to investigate, understand, and assume others may have a different approach to processing information and emotions.
This is why it is imperative to develop a common method, language, and set of questions to uncover the truth of the matter at hand. One method is simply asking for more details about the “dramatic” situation. Keeping questions focused on the facts about what is being conveyed, rather than emotional feelings, allows the actual truth of the issues to emerge. By doing this, the person sharing will sometimes begin to see the situation may not be as bad as they originally thought. Another method is to hit it head on by saying, “I hear a lot of emotion in what you are talking about. What are the real issues and what actions do you believe we need to take?” This is effective if your team has the foundation of trust to build upon. As a fellow leader listening to someone talk about their issues, we must be willing to separate our emotions from the situation. Depending on your personality and style, this may require more work. The final method is to utilize a larger than normal portion of listening. This is difficult for some leaders. Some of us are so anxious to help solve the issue, we just start working the issue. In many cases, we need to slow down and simply listen and not respond for a moment. In fact, if you can make it a little uncomfortable by creating a longer pause, the person will begin to go deeper and start to shed off the emotion and get to the real issue.
Understanding how to utilize strengths and balance from different personality types will ultimately deliver a more meaningful and well-rounded pursuit of the truth! We are working to develop a common method, language, and set of questions, to uncover the truth of the matter at hand.
Getting to the truth of the matter is powerful and essential to making progress. It allows us to make better decisions, become a more cohesive team, and develop communication skills which serve to improve performance across the board. I am reminded of a very wise Bible verse: John 8:32 (NIV) “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” What is meant by “set you free,” is the freedom of doing the right thing for the right reasons, which produce the right results.
We all want to win! In fact, our society is so focused on winning, we tend to jump to the end and just want what is there without the hard work to make it happen. This causes so many failures. You’ve heard it said, “It’s about the journey, not just the destination.” This is so true, but our microwave, want-it-now, quarterly-focused, consumerism society pushes us a different direction. We must resist the temptation to cut short the journey. When we invest the time to build trust and dig for the truth, it will lead us to make meaningful decisions in difficult times. We will triumph together!
There are three other key “T’s” required for this to be executed well. It takes time, tenacity, and torque to make this all happen. We must give ourselves and the process appropriate amount of time to execute. It takes time for trust to develop with lots of data points supporting the positive activities which produce trust. Tenacity or perseverance is required to be patient for the outcomes. We should stay in the game and know as we give time to the right things, they will produce the desired fruit. Finally, it takes torque or the appropriate level of power to drive home the points based on the truth. We say appropriate power, because it cannot mean to bully our way through to get to the end. It takes finesse and the “knowing when to push versus when to pull” to achieve trust, truth and ultimately triumph.
There is nothing more satisfying than working through tough issues and looking at your teammate after the battle has been fought and won and knowing you all did it together, despite the roadblocks. A true leader understands the level of self-actualization Maslow’s hierarchy is really talking about. The means become the end. The journey becomes the result and the results we were after, become a natural outcome from the excellent activities of building trust, and harvesting the truth!