It’s a paradox. Trust is earned with team members that you are leading when you show that you are vulnerable. Weird right? Gone are the days when leaders (actually, managers) needed to be in complete control and have all the answers.
To connect, I mean really connect with your team, you need to be the leader that says things like: “I don’t know” “What do you think?” or, “I suck at this. Help me.” For me, for example, I suck at details. And, I tell people that all the time. That’s why I surround myself with people like Tiana and Cindy that are stark raving detail-oriented people who help me look like I am on top of stuff.
Our job as a leader is to help teammates feel socially or psychologically safe. It’s a basic human need to feel socially safe in whatever group they are in. From that, people will trust each other more deeply – and by ‘trust,’ I mean that they feel socially safe with them, not the kind of safety where you trust people around you will do the right thing. That drives greater connectivity with each other (another basic human need) and a greater sense of belonging.
There’s a great story you can look up that demonstrates this, here are the Coles notes:
In July of 1989, a United Airlines DC 10 (United Flight 232) took off from Denver en route to Chicago. Comfortably leveling out at 35,000 feet, the flight crew was settled into their morning coffee and… a catastrophic failure happened in one of the three engines which consequently took out the pilot’s ability to control the airplane.
Over the next 35-minutes, the pilots fought with the airplane in vain attempts to control it.
At one point, the Captain, Gary Haynes, showed the rest of the flight crew true leadership by saying: “I have no more ideas. What do you guys think?” This simple phrase engaged the other pilots (there happened to be three other pilots on the flight deck that day) to offer other ideas and suggestions. In normal ‘command and control’ situations, everyone else would have remained silent and waited for the Captain to give them orders.
When the plane eventually crash-landed in Sioux City, Iowa, and half of the passengers and crew survived what experts said was an un-survivable scenario, the flight crew credited the Captain’s leadership.
People trust a leader who is vulnerable more than a leader that acts like they have all the answers.
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, #1 Best Selling Author, International Keynote Speaker, and TEC Top Speaker of the Year for 2018. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
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