Have you ever worked for or with someone who simply doesn’t care to know the details of a business, a process, or a decision? Are you one of those leaders? If you have ever worked with someone like this, you already know what I am about to say. If you are one of those leaders, this may come to a surprise but either way it’s true, lack of details result in a lack of trust.
Wait! What?! Yes, you read that right.
Now you may be thinking, “I am a leader who doesn’t care about the details. I hire people to know them and I trust them to handle it. I give them lots of trust and that’s a good thing.” First, let me agree with you in the fact that yes, having trust in your team is indeed a good thing. And your team will and does appreciate that. But what comes with that trust is a level of responsibility that shouldn’t exist for an employee..
That responsibility is an internal responsibility that that employee now feels to ensure you know all of the key details before you make a promise, sign a contract, or commit to doing some extra “something” in your business that actually can’t be done. In other words, they are trying to save you from yourself. And no employee should have that responsibility.
What happens after an employee feels this level of responsibility is one of the most dangerous events that can happen to you as a leader, they start questioning your judgment and your ability to lead your own company. (Gasp!) 😳 Yes, it’s true. They move from feeling trusted, to feeling responsible, to then starting to question if you know enough about your own company to make the critical company decisions.
Once they go from questioning your judgment, the next phase they step into is failing to execute your direction. Why? Because they feel like they have to be the gatekeeper on all other decisions you have shared with them, so they now feel that “responsibility” to ensure the direction you gave is sound, doesn’t have flaws, and truly is best for the company. So they start picking and choosing what they execute and what they don’t. Now you have lost your team, because no one is following your leadership and everyone is rowing in their own direction.
So, how do you prevent this? Or worse, how do you get your team back to trusting you and believing in your leadership? First, you have to acknowledge that you are causing this behavior within your team. If you don’t care about the details they are going to see you as not knowing enough to make the critical decisions and feel like they have to make sure all decisions are the right ones. So take that responsibility away from them. Learn the basic fundamentals of the business.
Second, clarify with them specifically when you are acting “outside of the details” and brainstorming with them because you trust them, vs. when you are giving direction. This ensures they know there are key times when you interact with them in both capacities. In turn, this will ensure they trust your direction and know when you are brainstorming with them vs. when you are giving direction.
Today’s challenge is to truly think about how you show your team your level of understanding relative to the details of your business. If you love details, you are good. If you know the details but simply ask questions here or there to your trained team to confirm they know the details (trust but verify), you are good. If you give direction, set guardrails, and approve the end result, you should be good as well. But staying completely out of key details and not understanding the business is risky. Know the risks of “trust” that result in extra responsibility for an employee and ultimately a lack of execution on their part.