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How to become a trusted leader

How to become a trusted leader

By Ian Mills, Transform People International

Trust is a key issue in every relationship. It is the basis of the rapport between leaders and their teams as well as between agency and marketers, and the platform that makes clients grow organically and businesses prosper. But what does it really mean and how can you increase the value of what you bring to the table by better managing the trust you’ve established between your teams and clients?

Crucial concerns

Trust will always mean different things to different team members. There are, however, common themes that are crucial to every team member, whether they are part of the client team or agency, including:

Dependability – how you deliver against your promises.
Integrity – how you work consistently with principles and values.
Credibility – how you demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.
Empathy – how you handle your people’s personal concerns, challenges and priorities.
Team-Centricity – the “you” not “me” approach.
Consistency – ensuring that those you lead experience the same quality of engagement, regardless of your personal needs, conflicts and priorities.

Consider this. You’ve had an enjoyable relationship with your team for months, probably even years. But a number of them really haven’t performed to their own true potential.

For whatever reason, you just haven’t been able to truly capture their hearts and minds. They seem to “trust you”, but they do not appear to see you as a ‘Trusted Leader’. That status is reserved for others.  But why?

Earning ”Trusted Leader” status

You really have only two choices. You can give up and simply move on. Or you can wrest back control of the situation. It’s then a question of who you are – a sticker or a quitter? Most marketers will confirm that a key characteristic of their Trusted Leader is their relentless pursuit of value-add where there is a winning possibility. So, if you want to build a winning team or business, you have two options.

Option one means doing what you have always done. You focus ruthlessly and sweat your assets more frequently. But being brutally honest, it won’t make a whole lot of difference. You may find your team responds positively, once or twice, according to their tactical needs, such as keeping their jobs. And you may see an improved performance but only in the short term. Without a quantum shift in your relationship, these team members will underperform and will always be “at risk”. When a better job offer becomes along some of your team will jump ship, possibly to a competitive agency.  Yes, your team can trust you, but you’re not seen as a ‘trusted leader’.

Option 2 means being ruthlessly honest with your team to establish Trusted Leader status. You need to look at them and assess how you think they are performing against certain professional and personal criteria. If you were an objective client, would you choose to have them on your team?  Are they professional, credible, dependable, trustworthy, thought leading, creative, inspirational, challenging and brave? In any given set of business circumstances, from new business pitches to delivering above expectation and on time, how ably do they perform and how well do they deliver?

The pertinent questions you have to ask are:

How do you make the changes necessary to transform business performance?
How do you get your people firmly on the road to success?

The science behind change

There is a science to achieving the kinds of success that you and they need to see. And there are changes that are necessary to meet the challenges every marketer will face in the austere months that lie ahead.

The point is that if things aren’t working for you, then there’s a good chance that they are working against you.

That’s why your team leaders need to re-examine their day to day behaviours. They need to guard against using a one size fits all approach to leadership and proactively understand what kind of relationship their teams will respond to. And they need to deliver the changes that will procure success – even in the teeth of a severe economic downturn. Only then can they really say that they are on the road to earning Trusted Leader status.

Making changes that matter

Producing the best marketing campaigns requires great teamwork, and an essential part of that means having great communications and strong healthy relationships that are bought about by trust.   Team members must also be able to trust that everyone is motivated to achieve common goals and share a unity of purpose. How much more successful would those campaigns be if agencies invested more in facilitated training to ensure maximum trust between agency and client teams?

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