Leadership and Risk (not the usual kind!)

Recently an executive was discussing with me his challenges with one of his subordinates. The executive had met one-on-one with his subordinate and was hoping the conversation would help improve the relationship. "I could tell he didn't trust me enough to offer up much about his frustrations and challenges. So I decided to open up with him about my own challenges. It felt risky to put myself out there. But then he did begin to open up. I think we're on a path toward a better working relationship." The executive made a choice to take the risk of talking to his subordinate about the challenges that he felt vulnerable about. The result? Progress in a difficult relationship. Increased trust.

Wouldn't it be great if everyone in your organization trusted each other? You'd quickly get to the source of problems without wasting time on turf protection or CYA. Many mistakes would be avoided because people would easily ask for help and acknowledge the limits of their expertise.

But that's not the world most people work in. We are often wary, wanting others to trust us but unwilling to trust them first. So we end up with a culture ofCYA and other low trust, counter-productive strategies.

That's why your leadership is important. Trust is a risk game and the leader must ante up first. Your vulnerability is your table stakes.

If you want a more trusting organization, be the leader who trusts. Ante up first.

How have you developed your willingness to trust?