Leadership is a magnificent endeavor. To lead is to guide on a way especially by going in advance, or to direct on a course or in a direction. Leadership can show in many roles from parenting to a universal leader such as Gandhi. It has many different styles – Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking. There is no one way to lead. But in order to lead there is a requirement – trust.
No one will follow a leader they do not trust. Compliance is not the same as leadership. Fear of losing a job or a role will have some comply. They are not being lead, they are surviving and you can bet you will get no more out of these team members than the bare minimum. How do you win trust? Can you create an atmosphere of trust? Can you win it back if it is lost?
Winning trust starts from the very beginning. Yes, first impressions count and it is due to our biology. As social creatures who need community to thrive we are hard-wired to determine whether to trust in the first few seconds of an encounter. In our modern world, rather than flee if we receive signals that we cannot trust, we simply shut-down or dismiss the other party. It takes about 7 seconds for this to happen.
So that distracted moment of texting while you are being introduced to a new hire or the slight grimace on your face as you meet yet another of your new colleagues, it can cost you dearly. However, the costlier mistake I see in these important first impressions is what happens in the first 90 days of that new leadership role.
Believing that we were hired, promoted or brought in to lead based on our track record, we continue to do and act in the same manner. They hired us for our experience, skills and knowledge yes? Yes, for your experience, skills and knowledge to be applied to their unique situation. Oh.
Remember the first time you took an exam in school that tested not on rote memorization of facts, details or formulas but actually required that you apply the knowledge, skills and experience you had learned? I made a “D” on the first exam I encountered like that. Once I realized what was being tested, I did not have enough time to recover and complete the test. It was a hard lesson learned.
What do you need to bring and who do you need to be as you step into that new leadership role?