Leaders: You Want It our Trust? Earn It

Leaders, we know what you want. You’re not shy. You say it in your memos and LinkedIn posts; your corporate values and recruitment collateral.

You want our loyalty, our trust. You want us thinking and acting like owners of the business. All while other organizations in our industry are blindsiding their talent with layoffs.

You want to see us collaborating across teams – driving efficiency and connection and wholes bigger than sums of parts. All while leaders at the top seem unconcerned with aligning goals and priorities, with sharing resources across functions, with breaking down silos.

You want our innovation, our ingenuity, our most creative ideas. And you’ll reward us for the winners. But we’ve all seen the graveyard of courage that didn’t yield. The left-behind souls of those who took you at your word and were ready to learn from failure when you weren’t.

You want all these things. You should want all these things.

But are you earning them?

Because genies don’t live in bottles. And will beats wishes every time.

What can you be doing to will these things into reality? How can you actively and meaningfully drive trust and collaboration and innovation?

  • Recognize layoffs will happen. As will reorgs and resource reductions and a million other changes. But treat your teams with dignity. Be transparent. Create regular, open forums of communication – email, Slack, in person. If you have nothing to say, then say you have nothing to say. But saying nothing at all is dangerous. Surprises are for birthdays.
  • Take a hard look at top-level priorities. Not by function or region, but as a whole. Where are there gaps or misses? Conflicts or contradictions? Understand that the tiniest crack at the top becomes a chasm of chaos on the frontlines. Ask questions, shuffle resources, and affirm the messaging and resource management is consistent across teams.
  • Celebrate, truly, not just big wins, but brave choices. Not carelessness, but bold, thoughtful actions. Recognize the person asking the “dumb” question that unlocked an insight; the one who laid out a thoughtful experiment designed to either win or teach; extract and share insights. Fuel your future plans with them.

Those are just a few for now. But I’ve got sleeves-full.

What else have you been wishing for? And how can you transform that wish into will?

Related: Are We in on the Joke?