He explained that for many years he worked at a manufacturing plant looking after a specific piece of machinery. He then left to go on a trip and when he came back he was disappointed to see that the machine had been changed.
When he spoke to his manager about it, the response he got was “Things move on, they can’t always stay the same.”
“I get that”, the man said, “but what really upset me was that the same things that were wrong with the old machine are wrong with the new one. If you’d only have asked me about it, I would have told you and we could have really moved on.”
At the time I had very little experience and no real idea of where my career would take me, but it struck me as an important lesson – to trust the knowledge of others.
As a leader it’s easy to assume that you know best for your company and your people, especially if it’s a small company that you’ve grown from scratch. You were the one making all the sacrifices, suffering sleepless nights and having it consume your every waking moment. So, when making everyday decisions it’s quicker and easier to do so without a consultation. But this isn’t always the quickest route in the long run.
Learning how to trust is an important characteristic for any leader and the linchpin for any organisation. It may not feel comfortable and it may be a daunting experience to go through but unless you trust your teams you can never truly empower, you can never genuinely motivate or develop and you can never continue to grow. We expect our teams to gel as well as any sport team and work seamlessly together – impossible without trust. We expect our managers to make decisions solve problems and hire the right people – also impossible without trust, and we expect our people to go the extra mile, give their all and stay motivated trusting that their needs will be met and that they’re working for a leader that cares.
You might feel that you’re letting go, and feel surplus to requirements, but in actual fact you are progressing as a leader. A leader without trust is hard to respect and follow. But a leader that has confidence in their team’s ability will forge a strong culture and will move forward and achieve great things together.