Monday, 14 September 2009

Trust & leadership

Just stumbled across a great article about the manufacturing company of W.L. Gore & Associates. Do read the whole article - it is well worth it. Click here: Small Groups, Big Ideas for the link.

I really liked the quote "The way you become a manager is by finding people who want to work for you. In a certain sense, you’re elected rather than appointed. It’s a democratic structure inside a business organization." cited in the piece (by Thomas Malone, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management and the author of The Future of Work)

This (together with the heralded special on 'Trust' to be broadcast on 'You & Yours' on BBC Radio 4 tomorrow) got me thinking about trust - and what leaders must do to earn it and indeed keep it.

Googling 'trust meaning' comes up with an array of definitions. However, I would define trust in the context of leadership as 'your confidence that the person has the future interests of the organisation, the world and you & your colleagues in mind when making decisions based upon past integrity, transparency, honesty, evidence, empathy and passion'.

With recent events including a range of financial crises, stories about shabby greed amongst our leaders & elections which have far more to do with corruption than fairness, it is very easy to become cynical, frightened & despairing. Where are the leaders whom we can trust? Where are the people taking epic, heroic and inspirational actions? My hunch is that there are still many of those leaders around, quietly getting on with business and getting some hard jobs done.

Clearly there are some of these people in W.L. Gore & Associates. There are probably some in the organisation where you work. And you will have some neighbours too who continue to make a huge difference to families and communities. Maybe there are fewer to be found in the media spotlight, or on the stages of the political conferences over the next few weeks than there used to be. But if you look carefully - perhaps out of the corners of your eyes - you will see many, many people who are earning trust and being good leaders - up, down & sideways in organisations and our communities. I see such people all the time, taking the lead with honesty, tenacity, integrity & verve - resolutely refusing to be 'cynicised' into inaction. These are the people who will:

  • Look for the positives
  • Take a wide variety of views into account
  • Say what they mean and mean what they say
  • Think about the balance of benefits from a course of action
  • Think of the future & the long term and avoid being ground down by just reacting all the time
  • Listen to people - really listen
  • Use humour, energy and passion
  • Evaluate what they have done and seek feedback
  • Have fun (and at no expense to anyone)
  • Work from the common ground rather than self interest

How many people do you know who are like that?

Are you one of them?

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