Part 3 - Thriving on trust
To trust is a verb. Transforming to trust.
To trust is a reciprocal verb. You can trust and be trusted. People and teams can trust each other and be trusted by others. It works like communicating vessels: the more you give, the more you get. It grows when you work with it.
There is something special about trust. It is contagious, and it is both the chicken AND the egg. As a leader, you need a basic attitude of trust to make choices, and when you are successful at that, you will earn the trust of the entire organization, creating a positive catalyst for better performance. Working on trust is therefore an important key to improving collaboration, creativity, solidarity, and team power for everyone at the organization.
Building trust, and maintaining it, also in times of adversity or insecurity, requires consciousness and hard work. It is all about creating a positive mood or culture across the organization that everyone needs to work on every day. Trust can easily turn to mistrust when intentions and behavior are misaligned. It requires permanent focus. It is a different mentality. It is a mind shift from assuming it won’t work (doubt or fear) to assuming it will (trust).
Letting go of control and invoking everyone’s internal source of potential and creativity will lead to the sharing of responsibility, whereby responsibility is bestowed where it is due. Creating a foundation of trust is a choice. To make that choice, you, as a leader, need courage. After all, you can never be 100% sure that your trust will not be betrayed. And yet, you decide to go for it, inspired by an intuitive knowing that working based on trust will be a catalyst for positive working relationships.
A positive atmosphere of trust leads to a positive basic attitude and a solid foundation. This is a powerful tool, if not the most powerful leadership tool available. When people believe in themselves and can rely on each other, you are on to a winner.
It is the leadership team that must set the example and pave the way for the rest of the organization.
The process of Transformation
Some organizations launch one change program after the other without that ever producing a fundamentally different way of working. This is because change programs merely swap one kind of behavior for another, change the systems and procedures, and never go down to the level where transformation is effectuated: in the people themselves. After all, organizations do not change, people do.
Our transformative program departs from business objectives, but without losing sight of the individual growth step each employee must take to accomplish and maintain effective behavior based on trust.
The process of transformation is a 6-step process. It follows the same steps – in team as well as individual trajectories. Naturally, the transformation to the new desired shape is tailored to the person or team we are working with. There are teams that are struggling with a lack of trust and need to make a major shift. But there are also teams that are already working based on mutual trust but are struggling to keep that up amid a process of professionalization, change or growth. We will reinforce the positive, while ensuring they take the next evolutionary step.
Transformation means to take on another form or shape. In nature one can think of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The new shape itself is already available in the DNA. Transformations can be defined as growth changes that emerge from a source deep within the innate structure of an organism. Like a baby growing into an adult. For ourselves as human beings, in order to transform in an expansive and evolutionary direction, we need to re-create the internal structure of our consciousness.
The Jane approach to Transformation describes a transformative process in 6 steps. However, it is not a linear process. Sometimes the leadership team needs to go back a step and recalibrate, or some individuals may need extra help to break through patterns.
This step is one of observation and taking stock through in-depth interviews with the leadership team, stakeholders, and key figures from across the organization, along with analysis of existing material. This will get us answers to the following questions: Where do we stand? What are our knowledge and skills levels? Where are we unique and where do we have potential for further development? How are we doing on each of the elements of trust?
The analysis is mirrored back to the team. The results are often recognizable and even confronting. Next, we define specific elements that we will be working on. The focus can therefore be on competency, vision, openness, appreciation, team spirit, or a combination of elements. This is followed by a final agreement to start the process.
Work is focused on opening up the team and form perspective. Where do we stand today and who do we need to be, and can we be to achieve our objectives? Are we all ‘on board’ to make this journey? This is where we align on the perspective and define vision and goals, and everyone shows his or her true color. Flaws are recognized, strategic choices ‘from…to’ are made. All are on the same page. The roadmap of the program is made up.
We go a step deeper in understanding our own and each other’s behaviors and patterns. Team coaching supports to understand and acknowledge current behaviors and clarify underlying assessments, viewpoints, and motives. What is standing in our way in achieving optimal results? What are the values that bind us? What new perspective do we need to see? And what do we need to let go of, individually and as a team?
The team sets intention and direction. Every team member needs to make an individual shift as well. Who am I and what is my strength and contribution? What is my challenge and how can I expand my capacity as a leader? What support do I need from the rest of the team? Our coaching is based on the ontological coaching method. Ontology is the science of being. It investigates and redefines one’s perspective on how we observe ourselves, others and the world.
After the shift that consists in breaking through old patterns and replacing them with new ones, the team brings intentions to practice. Roles and tasks are assigned, and work arrangements are made. The team sets course toward the goal, everyone does what they agreed to do. Team members call each other to account, give feedback, and persevere. At this stage, our role as coaches is to support a team that is in full flow. There will be setbacks, but perseverance wins.
This step is about rewarding and appreciating. Setting the mood for the team and hence for the entire organization. Often, we forget to celebrate and continue to pursue ever-ambitious next steps. This wears out and decreases trust as one feels undervalued for one’s contribution and effort. We see celebration as an essential step in recognizing and sustaining progress. After an effort, consolidation on a new level of functioning is needed to sustain.
When the leadership team has set the example, it will automatically create a ripple effect across the entire organization. Subsequently, a cascading plan can be made to spiral the spirit of trust into the organization, towards supervisory boards, or other stake holders…
Although the article stops here, the work on trust never stops. On a regular basis, one needs to stay open and observant what is lacking, or which choices need to be adjusted.
For now, thank you for your attention. I hope you are more informed and feel inspired to work on trust in yourself, your team, and your organization.