How many organizations have you heard about where employees don’t trust leadership? There can be many reasons for it, but one of the main ones is that employees feel leadership is distant, that they’re holding something back, that they believe they are better than them. Those perceptions build over time, but can be broken. How? By being more authentic.
Every interaction with a person or group has the chance to strengthen or break down bonds. Bonds of trust, connection, alignment, etc.
Personal interactions aren’t always direct and face to face. Actions are louder than words is a phrase often said and it is often true.
Leaders burn through trust when they say one thing, but actions and, more specifically, the results or implications of those actions stick with people for much longer. If a leader’s actions support the words, that can be powerful, but usually serves simply as a confirmation of the words.
Trust builds up slowly. However, when actions don’t connect with words, trust is eroded at a much higher level than when it was built. Whether this was an intended action, or just perceived by your employees, it’s still on you. It’s your responsibility to make certain your actions, and those of the people on your team, match your words.
As a leader, your authenticity, and how its perceived by people in your organization, is absolutely critical. Just think of how you respond to people you feel are not honest with you? Imagine an entire organization spending time and effort wondering what you really mean and what you’ll really do in various situations.
If you are asking yourself questions like these, rather than looking just at processes, maybe you should be asking about authenticity and trust of leadership in your organization.
What things can you do to be more authentic?
- Be you – You are not a person on a pedestal. You have your own issues, likes, dislikes, experiences and goals. Let your people know you as a person. The connection made at that base level builds a foundation of trust.
- Admit your faults – You don’t need to constantly apologize for every little thing, but showing you can screw up makes you human, like the rest of us. If you work hard to show you are perfect, and even hold that line when you messed up, credibility is battered.
- Listen to your people – You don’t have all the answers. The people are in your organization because they bring value. Believe in it. Tap into it. Change your mind when a better idea is brought forth. If you shut people’s ideas down, they turn you off as well.
- Do what you say and say what you do – Actions speak louder than words. People are smart enough to notice the disconnects between the two. If they see you trying to mask it, you’ve lost them.
Lastly, if you are true to yourself and what you believe, your own mission and vision, you are better capable of being authentic to your organization. How you act personally and professionally shouldn’t be different. If they are, you risk losing yourself, those around you and the organization you are supposed to lead.