Build Trust - 10 Questions Someone Else Should Answer About You

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We had been in the training for about 4 hours when the instructor asked a pointed question; “On a scale of 1-10, how are you with delegating?”


Each of us in the room gave an answer, mine was “I’m an 8. I don’t have a problem delegating.” Then I got this feeling in my gut that I needed to act on.  It wasn’t the bubble guts from lunch.  It was like someone hitting the wrong note in the National Anthem but internalized.


Within 3 minutes of giving my answer, I texted my Director of Sales, “1-10, 10s best. How am I with delegating?” Her answer caused me to pause. I read it 2-3 times before realizing I was still in the meeting with the other Executives.


So I read her response out loud to everyone.


“5 – average and depends and goes up and down. Sometimes 3 sometimes 7. You fluctuate.” (the rest in the in image above)


Now I had the bubble guts.


She trusts me, she trusts me not

In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni says that trust is the foundation of every healthy team. I believe him and really think that’s an easy thing to agree with.

If you build on a solid foundation of trust, you can move up to conflict (healthy conflict), then up to Commitment, which leads to Accountability and ends at the top with Results. Totally logical.

Where things go sideways is the whole putting it into practice thing. I’m deeply flawed. People are people. Hardly anything goes according to plan. Leadership is messy.


If you want to build a trusting team you must stop lying to yourself, which means getting outside help.


Real-life trust-building


So how the heck do we go about building trust in real life?


Get naked.


NOT FOR REAL!! Geez. I’m talking about an honest assessment of your leadership.


If you’re feeling brave, answer them for yourself. Then ask three others to answer as well and compare.  1-10, 10 is best. (insert family friends for employees if they answer the questions)


How are you with:

  1. Showing grace to employees
  2. Delegation
  3. Asking questions about employee’s interests
  4. Listening to new ideas
  5. Encouragement
  6. Celebrating wins with employees
  7. Following through/keeping your word
  8. Admitting mistakes
  9. Apologizing when you make mistakes
  10. Holding yourself and others accountable


Of course, we’re shooting for an average of 10/10 but, no one will get that. And if you graded yourself a 10/10, start with humility.


What does your score tell you? How did your score compare to how others rated you?


Vulnerability Underpins Courage


If you haven’t seen Brene Brown’s Ted talk, it’s worth a watch. In all her research, she found that every instance of courage is underpinned by vulnerability. Going for it without knowing how a thing will turn out.


Which is scary.


If you go for it with these questions, listen intently to what the answers are trying to tell you. Lean in and thank the folks who risk telling you the truth.
Your response is a HUGE indication to people if they can be real or not. (so don’t fly off the handle)


My Director of Sales, (Stephani), and I have had several talks since her assessment of how I delegate. Those follow-up conversations have served to deepen the roots of our working relationship. It’s one more story we can refer to when things are going so well.


But we didn’t just teleport to trusting each other, it was a pile of small things over time that allowed Stephani to be that honest. Every time we step into that place, it gets easier and easier to speak freely.


Start small, show up, ask for feedback, say ‘thanks,’ and do better next time.




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