Generating Trust - 28 October 2014
The problem with a concept like ‘trust’ is that it’s such a soft and fluffy term, a term that very quickly raises eyebrows among the more cynical of leaders. After all, how can something all about vulnerability have any respectable impact on the bottom line?! Well, a new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology should silence some of the critics.
The researchers discovered that something known as shared leadership has a positive impact on trust, which in turn has a positive impact on performance. The researchers themselves were surprised at the strength of the connection. What they found was that shared leadership encourages people to interact more frequently with each other. This elevated interaction builds trust. And that trust boosts performance.
So what does shared leadership mean? Essentially, it represents the notion that, within a team, there’ll be times when employees are leaders and there’ll be times when they’re followers. Whether they’re a leader or a follower depends on their talents, the task, the situation, the project, and a host of other factors. It can change day by day, week by week.
This poses a challenge to you since you’re the one with ‘leader’ or ‘manager’ in their job title or job description. And it’s a challenge because the whole point of shared leadership is that you’re supposed to relinquish some of your leadership responsibilities. In other words, you’re required to let go of duties you’ve worked so hard to earn.
If you can get over the outdated notion that the formal leader is the only one who can do leadership stuff, here are four ‘shared leadership’ roles you can create within your team:
Information providers: These are the people you empower to acquire, evaluate and distribute relevant information to other members of the team.
Problem solvers: These are the employees tasked with identifying needs, setting goals, formulating plans, clarifying expectations and communicating them to the team.
Personnel managers: These are the staff members who are skilled enough to develop, coach, mentor and motivate their colleagues.
Resource coordinators: These are the people who obtain, allocate, maintain, and monitor whatever resources the team needs to get the job done.
So here’s what all this means for you. Shared leadership isn’t about delegating any old thing you don’t want to do. What it means is that you pass on genuine leadership tasks. Sure, you can still hang on to a large degree of authority and influence but, by at least giving away some of your more substantial duties, you’ll get back something far more valuable: trust – and evidently better performance.
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