"Trust is emotional glue that binds followers and leaders together." - Warren Bennis and Bert Nanus "If you don’t believe in messenger, you won’t believe message."
- James Kouzes and Barry Posner
I see it all time - leaders who blame followers for breakdowns in organization. I often hear complaints like these: - “If those people would just do what I tell them.”
- “You just can’t find good workers today.”
- “Why won’t these people get onboard with what needs to be done?”
- “Why do they complain all time?”
Each of these leadership laments focuses on what’s wrong with follower. Each concern excludes leadership responsibility as a source of or contributor to breakdown.
I see employees who won’t do what needs to be done, or, at best, perform at a bare minimum level. I see team members who drag their feet on new procedures or work practices. I see workers who do just enough to get by.
I see these behaviors and I ask myself - what’s problem?
When I get opportunity to discuss issue, I usually hear at least some component of violated trust. I hear people say that they want to perform at a higher level, but they don’t trust that they will be recognized or rewarded. I hear people concerned that they’ll be penalized if they speak truth and identify real problems in organization. I hear people who have been beaten-up by current or previous leadership. All signs of violated trust.
Creating an environment of trust is a tricky issue. People carry past hurts with them. Some people expect more from their leaders than they are willing to give themselves. Leaders do things that unintentionally confuse or scare people. Some people just don’t want to trust organizational leaders. But, regardless of past or current situation, responsibility to build trust lies first, and foremost, with leader. It’s not always fair, and it’s not always easy. But it is always leader’s responsibility.