This is the lament of many leaders after they realize that goals, objectives and required results were not met. Somewhere in the leadership process, trust was broken, commitment waned and nothing was accomplished. This is the pattern at many churches and certainly in many businesses. What happened that trust was broken between the leader and the team?
Many of you are listing things like integrity, expertise or experience. It is true that if any of those things are missing, the team will stop trusting a leader. Let me add one more to the list. Have you ever considered that people may have lost trust in us as leaders because we are completely unpredictable? Can they depend on us as leaders to respond in a consistently healthy way to stress, challenges or even success? Do we have the emotional maturity as leaders to harness our irrational behavior during times of testing? If we don’t, our teams will stop trusting us.
I am not advocating the mundane or the boring. I believe there should be room for spontaneous thoughts and ideas. I also believe we should be able to quickly respond to opportunities before they pass. While those things are fine, compulsive, unpredictable behavior is not cute and can ultimately sabotage your influence with other people. People need leaders with mature emotions or what some experts are calling emotional intelligence, which the ability to connect and tame your impulsive feelings with the rational side of your brain.
When people find a leader who is predictable, they feel safe. It is in this safe environment of predictability that the healthiest conflict happens and the best ideas surface. Predictable means a leader “says what he means and means what he says.” There is no code of double speak. While people around us may not agree with what we say, they will trust that we were genuine and sincere in what we said. They know that debate and conflict will not cause one reaction from us one day and another tomorrow.
How predictable are you as a leader? Do you typically respond in a healthy way to stress or success? If so, you are on your way to earning the trust of your team and great ideas and great success will soon follow.