Corporate America is experiencing a leadership crisis. The communication gap between bosses and employees is widening as trust diminishes. It begs the question of why?
The answer may be simple. Few things erode trust and respect like actions and words that don't match. The “do as I say, not as I do” expectation of leaders isn't always intentional. Most of the time, leaders aren't aware they fail to deliver on the expectations they set for others.
“We’re in a crisis of trust in leadership,” Sandra Sucher, a Harvard Business School professor who studies layoffs and trust. “Leaders of all kinds … are failing some of the basic expectations.”
Are you guilty?
Consider this. Have you ever known someone who is chronically late? They consistently arrive five, ten, maybe twenty minutes later than they said they would?
No matter how hard they work or how knowledgeable they are, it’s hard to trust their ability to show up on time.
Now you may be asking, Stacey, what does this have to do with me? I’m always on time.
Maybe you are. But do you consistently follow through on everything you commit to?
If you tell a coworker to expect a call from you by a certain time, do you follow through, or let it slide if something else comes up?
Do you ask for an employee to deliver on a specific deadline, then fail to provide timely feedback as their project sits in your inbox for days without review?
Maybe you ask meeting participants to turn off their gadgets and pay attention when you speak but fail to do the same when it’s your turn to listen.
The only way to know is to ask someone you trust who is going to tell you the truth. Find a coworker, mentor or family member to give you honest feedback. This can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary.
Ask any of our clients and they’ll tell you that prior to attending one of our sessions, only 56% knew how to confidently ask for feedback. Afterward, over 90% were not only armed with the skills to ask, but they knew feedback was key to understanding how others perceived them.
How we act has an impact on our ability to influence others, even more than what we say. Words are only as valuable as the actions that back them up. Today, ask someone you trust for constructive feedback. THEN, put into actin the feedback you’re willing to commit to.