I speak to hundreds of managers every year who all know that empowerment is a necessary component of delegation and moving team members upward into higher positions of authority. Yet, when we talk about leadership and management I have them fill out a short list of characteristics of dysfunctional leadership styles.
The number one characteristic that appears every time is, “I have difficulty trusting people.” If you’ve ever been burnt by a team member or fellow manaager that is unerstandable. The old adage: “Burn me once shame on you; burn my twice, shame on me,” goes to the reality that so many of us have our guard up. We’ve been burnt before and never want that to happen again, and so, we live with our lack of trust.
The dilemma is this: it is impossible to empower someone you don’t trust. Trust is essential to empowerment. This puts us in a “double-bind,” you know you need to empower people, yet you don’t trust people, so you really don’t empower them. So many times we hand the reins over to someone with our hands still firmly on them.
People feel it when you don’t trust them. It’s difficult to fake trust. And you’re lack of trust will be noticed in the tonality of your voice, your body language, and your actions.
So how do we learn to trust? The standard answers are time, risk, trial and effor, little by little, one step at a time, and so on. These are all true.
Realize that they may have difficulty trusting you as well. The walls are up on both sides of the relationship. And so what we need to do is think in terms of investment. You invest yourself deeper and deeper in the relationship. Be vulnerable and open so they can be vulnerable and open. And on the other side of that wall you may find someone who just like you needs to be trusted.