Are you a trustworthy leader? How in the heck do you know? Have you asked? Because if you aren’t asking, your team isn’t going to tell you.
Making assumptions based on your own observations isn’t going to get you there because your observations are based on your own confirmation bias. It is impossible to spot self-deception, and your team isn’t going to call you out on it. They’re going to smile and secretly not trust you. So what do you do?
A real leader has the stones to surrender the power and ask the question. A real leader genuinely wants to hear the answer that hurts. Meet with your direct reports and ask them one question. One question only. A question constructed to negate confirmation bias while providing psychological safety.
I want to tell you a story about the time I was scared my team would think I was a complete loser because I had no idea what I was doing. I was afraid that doing it wrong would hurt my company, and I was scared my team would think I was weak. I was isolated, alone, and I didn’t want to let on that I was struggling. Instead of hiding my uncertainty, I chose to demonstrate my commitment to my team by showing them my weakness. I told them “I don’t know,” and made the team stronger through my authenticity.
When you pretend to be equals with your team and put them on the spot, asking, “Hey, how am I doing?” you fail to acknowledge the lack of psychological safety in that engagement. It’s borderline patronizing.
What they hear is, “Hey, I know I have the power to fire you, but I’ve decided to deploy leadership tactic 101 and pretend we are equals. Please check the box on giving me feedback because I lack the empathy to acknowledge our power dynamic, your risk, and that I suck at something and am afraid to admit it.”
This kind of authenticity is going to build trust within your team and give you the feedback you need.
Nothing will create trust within your leadership team more than your ability to be honest as a leader with your people in a vulnerable way, and for them to reciprocate. Challenge and destroy the myth that leaders need to lie about who they are, break down the power dynamic, and address the things you suck at as a leader.
Ask for feedback in a way that no leader ever has.
Are you ready to develop rigorously authentic leaders who will move your organization forward in a more impactful way? Click here to learn more about my book: Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts.