We all want people to trust us. When you sense someone doesn’t trust you, you may feel disrespected or misunderstood. It’s easy to take this personally, but in reality others may not be questioning your character.
What are they questioning then?
Here are 4 things people don’t trust about you:
- Your Capacity
If you’re seemingly overloaded and give others the perception that your workdays are a constant exercise in plate-spinning, it won’t instill confidence that you can fulfill any new responsibilities. When you promise something new, you may want to mention what you will be taking off your plate in order to keep that promise.
- Your Competence
OK, this one can still feel personal, but lack of competence doesn’t mean you’re incompetent in the way that word implies. Lack of competence may simply mean a task is outside of your current skill set. You may consider training or delegating these tasks in order to reassure others you can be trusted to make sure it gets done.
- Your Personality
This can also seem like a personal attack. There are a couple of things to remember. First, your personality is not the totality of who you are. It is an outward expression, which leads us to another point. This outward expression can be misunderstood. What you see as positive and outgoing may be interpreted as undiscriminating and careless. An awareness level understanding of a personality type index like Meyers Briggs (MBTI) may help you overcome personality miscommunications like this.
- Your Motives
If your goals seem to compete with what others are trying to accomplish, then they may challenge your motives even when you offer assistance. This is where your group culture helps encourage an environment of trust. Does your culture encourage collaborative efforts, or does it reward those who only look out for themselves? Also, you may need to explain why you’re motivated to help. This may encourage others to trust you when they understand what you’re real motives are.
By making trust issues less personal, we can find practical ways to overcome distrust and gain support. We see it as less of an attack on our character and as more of an exercise in managing perceptions. Additionally, we can assess why we don’t trust others and decide whether or not our skepticism is merited.
Have you had issues being trusted or trusting others in these areas? Are there other things about people we seem to distrust?
Are you trying to get things done and feel like others aren’t helping you?
The image above quotes Andrew Carnegie’s claim,
No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.
But maybe you don’t want to do it yourself. Perhaps you are willing to share credit. You just need some assistance, support or sharing of the load.
For example, you may be working hard to improve things at work. You’re putting in the effort, logging the hours, making the hard decisions. The problem is it seems others are content with status quo.
Is that because you’re the last bastion of a solid work ethic and esprit de corps? Not likely.
So, why aren’t others helping you? Here are 2 reasons:
- They don’t know.
- They don’t know what you’re doing. Maybe you’re so busy DOING, that you’re not COMMUNICATING what you’re working on.
- They don’t know you need help. You seem self-sufficient and don’t delegate or ask for help.
- They don’t know how to help. You haven’t showed where their skills can be applied to best help you.
- They don’t care.
- They don’t understand why your work is important.
- They have no extrinsic motivation to help you. (rewards, acknowledgement, etc.)
- The corporate culture doesn’t encourage helping others.
Of course the issue could be laziness, a lack of character or a general spirit of apathy (unlike the systemic issues above). But why worry about that, since you have virtually no control in those scenarios? Also, that’s probably not the case. It’s more likely that by addressing the 2 factors above, you’d greatly improve the odds that someone will help you in your efforts.
Do you feel like others don’t care or don’t know to help you?
Leaders should be destructive when obstacles are keeping them, or their people, from being the greatness they were created for.
Focus on destroying obstacles – not your fears, not your competitors, and especially not your people.
A leader without a follower is simply taking a walk without knowing.
- Ancient Proverb (multiple attributions)
With an escalating amount change, uncertainty and cynicism in our world today, we need mutual leadership. This is when leaders and followers work together with a healthy respect and understanding for each other.
What good leaders should understands about followers:
- Know the kind of followers you want. (demographics)
- Know how to motivate and influence your followers. (psychographics)
- The trust of your followers is more important than their approval.
- Without followers, you are no longer truly a leader.
What good followers should understand about leaders:
- Know the kind of leader you want.
- Realize leaders are fallible. Don’t expect perfection.
- Strong leaders are characterized by fostering growth, not dependency.
- Recognizing the point above, don’t abdicate your own leadership out of fear.
Creating an environment where strong and competent leaders are paired with healthy and confident followers could change the world as we know it.
What steps could you take today toward such a promising, new world?
Indulge me with a short thought experiment.
Imagine you’ve hired a professional photographer to get a well-crafted portrait of yourself. You arrive at the address he provided, which appears to be his house. You walk up to the front and ring the doorbell. He opens the door and seems a little surprised to see you.
“I’m here for my portrait session.” You say.
A spark of recognition flashes across his eyes. “Oh yeah. Hang on a second.”
He shuts the door in your face, leaving standing on the porch a bit bewildered. You look at your phone to confirm your appointment time and address are correct. They are. Just before you ring the doorbell again, the door opens and the photographer steps out with a camera strapped around his neck.
“OK. Uh, just stand over there.”
He points to a spot on the sidewalk about 3 feet behind you. You give him a puzzled look and slowly shuffle back according to his directions. He starts taking seemingly random shots. You realize the sun is backlighting you, which can’t be good for the photo. You haven’t changed into the clothes you brought for the photo session and the photographer gives you no suggestions for how to stand or which direction to look.
He lowers his camera. “OK. That’s it. I’ll go back and take a look at these. Maybe we’ll get lucky.” He re-enters his house and shuts the door behind him.
You return to your car to leave, highly doubtful that luck will be on your side.
We would never expect a photographer to treat a portrait session in this way. Since the main goal of a photographer is to take photographs, we anticipate they will use their expertise and exhibit some forethought in preparation for a photo session.
What about leaders? Since the main goal of a leader is to LEAD, do we expect some level of expertise and forethought as we do with professional photographers? Like a photographer sets up a beautiful picture, leaders can lay a groundwork for success.
4 Ways Leaders Establish the Big Picture
We recently had a plumbing issue cause a flood in our house. The disaster restoration service brought in several large fans and dehumidifiers, which filled our home with a loud, constant drone. We had to move to one side of the house and close doors to take a phone call. It was hard to have a conversation with each other. At times, someone would knock at the door or ring our doorbell without me hearing them – even when I was near the front of the house. Some visitors had to call my cell phone in order to let me know they were at the door.
You probably see the metaphor forming.
Creative Commons Image courtesy Burk’s Falls, Armour & Ryerson Union Public Library
Putting a bear on a unicycle doesn’t do anyone any good. It humiliates the bear and wears out the unicycle. I’m all for servant leadership, but be careful about putting your most capable people on the most menial tasks.