The Leadership Challenge 7th Edition
The long-awaited 7th Edition of The Leadership Challenge was released in January 2023 and it did not disappoint. With updated research, excellent stories, and inspirational quotes, the iLead team has been scrambling to update content in their workshops and advanced facilitator training. When we asked the team to give us the quote that has most inspired them, this is what they told us.
Who’s Got Your Back: The Power of Trust
By Michael Curtis, Senior Director of Advanced Facilitator Training
The first time I was promoted to positional leadership, my mentor, Sgt. Bradsher provided what has become the best advice I have ever received concerning leading others. He was an old sergeant though probably only 35-40 at the time. He was rough around the edges and tougher than boot leather. He handed me my sergeant stripes, congratulated me with a handshake that would crush an armored vehicle, leaned over, and spoke into my left ear. “People won’t follow those they can’t trust. If people don’t trust you, who’s watching your back?”
That was great advice, but it didn’t end there. A few weeks later, Sgt. Bradsher expanded on trust. Over the years I have seen this advice repeated by CEOs, authors, researchers, and others who have an interest in leadership. Here is what he told me.
Never lie to your people. If you are asked a question and don’t know the answer, tell them so. If you know the answer but can’t tell them, tell them so. He said, “If you’re always honest, you never have to worry about keeping your stories straight.” He reinforced the point by saying, ” Trust can take years to build but only moments to lose.”
Always follow through on your commitments. He told me that I should be sparing in my commitments and explained that when a person over-commits, they risk their reputation. “Make your promises and keep your promises, just don’t make too many promises.” We refer to this in our Leadership Challenge ® workshops as DWYSYWD (Do What You Say You Will Do).
Always take care of your people. Sgt. Bradsher had learned from personal experience the need to depend on others to complete the organization’s goals. While the mission always came first, a close second was dedication to his team. People knew that when they succeeded, he was always there encouraging them. When they messed up, he was always beside them. He could be counted on to care for his people and they would follow him anywhere.
I was recently sent a transcript from a talk by Brene´ Brown called the Anatomy of Trust. In this talk, she drew from Charles Feltman’s* definition of trust but then expanded by sharing insight from her research. If you are a Brene´ Brown fan it will not surprise you that she used the acronym BRAVING to explain trust: Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-Judgement, and Generosity. As I listened to this insightful 10-minute talk, much of what I had heard and seen from Sgt. Bradsher echoed from the past.
There is no substitution for trust in leadership. With trust in place, you can take risks, make changes, try out new things, and develop your people. Trust is the fuel that drives great teams and empowers extraordinary leadership.
*For a summary of Feltman’s The Thin Book of Trust, click here.
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