Tuesday, October 25, 2016

3 WAYS TO BECOME A TRUSTWORTHY LEADER

The email from the conference director read: “Come prepared to face a challenge on the mountain. Wear jeans and sneakers.”

Permanently labeled Class Klutz many years ago, I was an uncoordinated, out-of-shape, middle-aged woman about to make a fool of herself in the majestic Cheyenne Mountains of Colorado. Sheer panic set my stomach tumbling.

It was the High Performance Excellence Sales Meeting. The company had been through yet another merger. Right-sizing the team was inevitable. In my mind, this was the organization’s way of separating the high performers from the mediocre ones. Failure was NOT an option.

As the fog was lifting over the beautiful Broadmoor Resort we boarded a luxury motor coach and began our ascent to the site of our adventure. I could not believe the challenge set before my eyes. There in front of me was a wall that seemed to reach the sky … and, we were expected to climb it!

How in the world would I conquer this presumably impossible challenge? Petrified and anxious, I was short of breath, sweating profusely, and shaking like a leaf on a windy day.

Then David, who was in his late 50’s and well over 300 pounds, accepted the challenge to ascend. He partnered with Rick who was significantly younger, stronger and more physically fit. During their ascent to the top of the structure, not once, but twice, when David was too weak to take another step, Rick reached down, grabbed David’s harness, and pulled him to the next foothold. Together they reached the pinnacle.

Seeing David succeed gave me the courage to try it too. Inhaling deeply, I swallowed my pride, let go of control, and faced my fear. With a few encouraging, able-bodied people willing to climb next to me, and a trusted advisor to coach me from the ground, I grabbed David’s sweat soaked helmet, nervously put it on my pretty little head, and began my ascent skyward.

Focused on one step at a time, I made it to the top. The experience was exhilarating! Who’d have ever guessed that this uncoordinated, out-of-shape woman branded Class Klutz would have the potential to achieve great heights?

The vast view of the valley from the pinnacle was spectacular. If I hadn’t made the climb, I’d have missed it along with important lessons on leadership and trust. In organizational life there are always at least three dynamics at play: self, team and the organization.

Unfortunately, trust is a rare commodity these days. Because of widespread hidden agendas and extensive political maneuvering in an ever-changing global economy, most people do not intrinsically trust themselves, others, or the organization they work for.  Is it possible to break through this barrier and become a trustworthy, high-performing achiever? At Insight Management Consulting we believe honorable leaders can be developed. It starts with ordinary people like you and me WHO have a heart.

Work on ME first. Becoming a respected leader requires courage to let go of control, fear, and labels. I used to tell my boys “‘I can’t means I Certainly Am Not Trying.” Standing at the base of that wall, I was thinking, “I can’t. I’m a klutz. I’ll look like a fool.”

We need to stop listening to the awful voices that tell us such nonsense and trust that we CAN reach our goals using our unique talents and personal motivation even when we’re branded incapable, scared stiff, and don’t know how to take the next step.

The next time you make a mistake and blurt out, “You’re so stupid,” catch yourself and say, “That’s okay. It was just a slip up. I’ll learn from it and try again." Self-trust refuses to give up. It perseveres and practices patience instead of perfection. It increases self-confidence, reduces your need for approval and strengthens your connection with others. A high performing leader trusts her abilities and limitations, and is motivated to let go of control, fear, and invalid insignias in order to reach new heights.

HELP OTHERS. With the stigmas gone, a savvy leader strives for a higher level of trust: the trust of others.  Others will trust us when we help them succeed. Sometimes we are the example that goes ahead of the team showing them how to accomplish the task like David and Rick did for me. Since teams can only go as high as their weakest member, occasionally, we may have to tether ourselves to the team, and work alongside them, pulling them up when they are weak. Great leaders never ask others to do a task they are unwilling to do themselves.

Other times we can be the trusted advisor or mentor who sees the potential in people and spur them to let go, face their fears, and take the next step. Often, good leaders hold the ropes, access the situation, and make it safe for others to reinvent themselves and experience new heights.

Influential leaders know the abilities and limitations of their team members, value their contribution, and inspire them to rise to challenges. Intentionally looking out for the best interest of each individual, they engage, encourage and empower their people to be successful earning not only trust but also respect and loyalty.

OBSERVE THE STRUCTURE. Trust is the heartbeat of every significant relationship with ourselves and with others, but there is yet a higher level: organizational trust. A trustworthy organization has solid structure and a clear purpose.  They not only encourage and empower their people to be successful; they also equip them with the necessary tools to accomplish their goals.

With the helmet on my head, the harness wrapped around my waist and clipped to secure ropes, I put my feet on wall, and discovered that it was a solid and trustworthy structure made for the purpose of climbing. The organization created an environment of trust, and equipped me to succeed.

Leaders of solid trustworthy organizations with a clear purpose experience the exhilarating and achieve unexpected and extraordinary results even in times of crisis because fully engaged employees will go above and beyond for leaders WHO have their best interest at heart.

As a Senior Consultant at Insight Management Consulting Beth Rudy uses her magnetic personality and passion for people to help encourage, empower, and equip others to rise to their full potential. At Insight Management we don’t believe leaders are born. We believe they are developed using tools they were born with: their eyes, ears, mind, mouth, heart, spine, hands and feet.  Contact Beth to inspire your team to reach peak performance.  

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