Discover more from How to Lead Everybody (with their permission)
Say what you'll do, and do what you say
Trust has two main components—your people need to be able to trust your intentions, and they need to be able to trust your competence.
As leaders, one of the best ways to show that you are trustworthy is by coming through on your commitments. If you say you’ll get back to someone with some information by the end of the day, do that. Add an alarm to your phone; put a Post-it note on the edge of your monitor; heck, write it in Sharpie on your hand if that’s what it takes.
I like the “under-promise and over-deliver” framework. Figure out how much time you think you’ll need, and then add some time padding, because life happens. For example, I may say, “I’m aiming to get this document to you by Monday, but let’s set the delivery date for Wednesday, so that I can check staff availability and make sure they have enough time to properly polish their portions of it.”
Sometimes things are beyond your control. If you are the leader, even if it is not your fault, it is still your responsibility. Rather than casting blame, focus on mitigating the problem. “We had a snowstorm come through yesterday and the office still does not have power. We are making sure that our people are able to get into the office safely, and once we can do that, we will make this project one of our top priorities. We are going to reallocate some additional staffers to work on the next phase, and we think we can get back to the original delivery schedule for you by the 24th. I apologize for the delay and thank you for your understanding.”
One other leadership “tip” is to remember that it’s a lot easier to manage your time and honor all of the commitments on your plate if you keep a significant number of other things OFF your plate. Don’t automatically say “yes” when asked to pitch in and help or to take on a new challenge. Consider the other demands you have on your time before taking on any new ones. If you know you would be stretched too thin if you take on a new project, you can take the sting out of it by vectoring the requesting person to another person who might be able to take it on. “I’m fully booked for the next few months, but if you can delay the start until April, I can schedule you then. If it can’t wait, I can give you the contact info of my colleague. She and I have worked on projects like this before, and I can recommend her work to you.”