How quick are you to give someone the benefit of the doubt? To give them grace even before they’ve earned it?
In a recent podcast episode, I interviewed Justin Fox, an Army veteran and 20-year operations leader, about the transition from military life to civilian leadership. One of the challenges Justin faced – as do many making the transition from the military – was how others would perceive his demeanor and approach. Would he come across too militaristic? Would his communication style have gaps entering a civilian lifestyle and workplace? The answer was undoubtedly – YES! This was Justin’s learning curve. However, what became important to his successful transition was his leader’s and team’s willingness to give him grace as he navigated the journey.
For organizations and leaders to thrive, we have to become more and more comfortable with the small failures our team might face. These failures are learning experiences and they cannot be held up and used as ransom, but instead as an opportunity to grow. Giving grace during these moments is critical – and luckily, it’s an easy practice to deploy.
Start with Trust
You’ve likely heard the phrase, “trust is earned, not given.” Wrong. That mentality is a recipe for disaster and will you hold you back from creating meaningful relationships. Leaders building dynamic teams, envious cultures, and exceeding goals are building off a platform where trust is implied. If your team is not freely given trust and must walk in Day 1 feeling the pressure to earn it, you will get surface-level effort. But when your team knows you’ve got their back and you’re ready to support them, they’ll give you maximum effort to ensure your trust is rewarded.
How do you start with trust?
I encourage leaders early in a relationship (personal or working) to find opportunities to blindly trust. It could be by giving a new hire a more difficult assignment; one you might normally reserve for a tenured employee. It could be by giving them freedom to complete assignments and not monitoring their hours worked like a hawk. Or it might be by taking the backseat during a conversation and just listening more intentionally versus speaking up and directing the conversation. During my corporate career, I routinely let my leaders join in and lead meetings with our senior executives. I made myself available to them in any capacity they desired, but I specifically removed myself from telling them how I thought they should approach the topic or meeting. These little acts, when added up, will showcase your willingness for trust and motivate your team to continue earning it tenfold.