The most important ingredient of any valuable relationship is TRUST.
How can I convince my team to do whatever I asked them to do and not question it, bitch about it, postpone it, or bring all kind of excuses for not finishing it, out of fear of unpleasant consequences? This type of question is very common at the corporate top level. In other words, how can they be trustful enough to become unquestionably followed by their team? We all ask ourselves whether or not others like us.
Achieving an ideal positive outcome requires an open and honest willingness of the leader for self search, a lot of focus on others as opposed to himself, self work, exposure to vulnerability and adaptation. It takes courage to acknowledge who you are as leader, how you are perceived by others. It feels significant to know the answer, as, depending on it, you can either relax in the presence of your team, or distance and even withdraw, out of fear of rejection and embarrassment. And that will send the wrong, unproductive messages to everybody. But you already know these things. It takes courage to be willing to be vulnerable, that is to step out of your own inner comfort zone and lose that control you are so proud of. And you should be, as it renders results. Until a point…
During a coaching session a leader may start finding some answers along the acknowledgment that, most of the time, the courageous way to be liked as a leader is to take the risk of being ready to show your soft skills side of you, to show interest, care even where there is (yet) no evidence that your team likes you back in the same manner. The leader realizes that he must keep showing kindness and support, that he must adjust his feedback to protect the relationship and show up in front if his team the same way he would want his own boss to show up in front if him.
What would you adjust, change or maintain if you were your own boss? If you were a team member, how would you like your own boss to be? Take a moment to picture in your mind your ideal boss. Take a moment to see what you would feel and think about your boss if he would expose himself to unfamiliar or potential judgement from the others, if he would ask for feedback, share that he is afraid or that he doesn’t know something. Would you think him weak or extremely courageous? “What most of us fail to understand is that vulnerability is also the cradle of the emotions and experiences that we crave, says Dr. Brene Brown, an expert in social connection and leadership. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy and courage, empathy and creativity. If you run away the second those shaky feelings arise, you’re just reinforcing the voice in your head that says ‘I am not good enough.’
The barrier is the implicit believe (a limiting one) that a top executive must be all knowing and strong, must not have doubts, fears. They fail to admit that, in today’s fast forward world no one single person can have all the answers all the time. The important things a leader must focus are the morale of his team, that is to help with setting a healthy direction, show unconditional support, constant vivid communication (such as feedback), shape team’s values and be humble enough to show he relies from time to time on others’ wisdom, experience or their technical strengths. A coach can help by, first by listening, active and deep listening, by “mirroring” back to help the person see beyond his frame of reference and adjust (even drop) biases and limiting beliefs, and by helping him define with clarity his needs, issues, or aspirations, and all those things that took time and remained unsolved after various personal attempts.