Problem: Your Group Lacks Trust
Remedy: Get Vulnerable and Stay Vulnerable
Make Sure the Leader Is Vulnerable First and Often
Group cooperation is created by small, frequently repeated moments of vulnerability. Of these, none is more powerful than the moment when a leader signals their vulnerability. As one Navy SEALs commander puts it, I screwed that up are the most important words any leader can say.
Laszlo Bock, head of People Analytics at Google, recommends that leaders ask their people three questions:
– What is one thing that I currently do that you’d like me to continue to do?
– What is one thing that I don’t currently do frequently enough that you think I should do more often?
– What can I do to make you more effective?
“The key is to ask not for five or ten things but just one,” Bock says. “That way it’s easier for people to answer. And when a leader asks for feedback in this way, it makes it safe for the people who work with them to do the same. It can get contagious.”
Deliver the Negative Stuff in Person
This was an informal rule that I encountered at several groups I researched. It goes like this: if you have negative news or feedback to give someone—even as small as a rejected item on an expense report—you are obligated to deliver that news face to face. This rule is not easy to follow (it’s far more comfortable for both the sender and receiver to communicate electronically), but it works because it deals with tension in an up-front, honest way that avoids misunderstandings and creates shared clarity and connection.