I recently ran into a sales leader friend who had changed industries a few years ago. We were catching up on his world and his. We were catching up on his world and his work. He told me that he loved his team and was in his element being a sales manager.
“I just wish I was as good at managing up as I am at managing my team.” “What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, I just don’t feel like I know her. She’s so busy, you know. And I don’t feel like she knows anything about me. I must be doing something wrong. Why doesn’t she want to know anything about me?”
I suggested he talk with his boss and tell her how he felt. In my head, I wondered how she could lead someone who she knew so little about. As leaders, we owe it to our people to know them well enough so that they can trust us.
When we lead others, we are responsible for inspiring them, tapping into what makes them tick, and removing the things that serve as barriers to their success. Part of that certainly is about setting expectations and giving feedback. However, our direction and feedback will fall on deaf ears unless our people trust us.
We need to “have people’s backs” (and they need to know we do), or they won’t keep it real with us. We won’t be able to help them. We won’t know what they are hiding from us. We won’t know if they are looking for another job.
As leaders, what do we need to do for our team members to trust us?
We need to show we are competent. Our people need to know that we know what we are doing and that our direction is grounded in expertise. You wouldn’t take piano lessons from someone who had only played for a month, right? I venture to guess that most of us get this.
We need to be reliable. We must do what we say we will do, and our actions need to match our words. If a team member asks us to call on an important customer, and we agree but then forget about it, we’re sending a message that they cannot depend on us.
We need to show that we care. In the past, I once had a manager who said, “I don’t care about your personal life. Just don’t let it get in the way of your work.” That statement certainly did not make me feel cared for.
Finally, we need to show that we’re not self-serving. Another friend had a manager who seemed to have an “angle.” She’d prioritize making herself look good over the needs of her team members. She’d take credit for her team’s successes but not for their mistakes. People will not trust you if I think you’re only in it for yourself.
This may sound like common sense. But work and life get busy, and sometimes we miscommunicate, let balls drop, and buckle under pressure.
Join the May Cohort for The High EQ Sales Leader
If you could use some help elevating the level of trust in your team for better performance, I invite you to join my upcoming course, The High EQ Sales Leader. Our March cohort received rave reviews! To learn more, click here.