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Skills to be a Manager: Lead Through Trust, NOT Control


By Emilie Shoop, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting

“The times they are a changin’” Bob Dylan 

{#/pub/images/Skillstobeamanagertrustnotcontrol.jpg}Years ago, managers and leaders got work done through power, control, and competition.  Markets were smaller, not global.  Information was scarce, not at your fingertips.  And the main way to react was in person, no email or web meetings.  Back then, skills to be a manager were implied by the title they held, not by their ability to motivate and lead.


Most of us learned that we should trust our boss because, well, they were “The Boss”.  They earned that position and therefore they earned our trust.  Management was tasked with maintaining order and getting things done and we trusted them to make the right decisions with our work, our money, and our future.  They would know when we should be promoted, right?


That is not how it works today, and I am thankful for it.  Unfortunately, too many people were put in positions of leadership and given power that should not have been.  It eroded the workplace and team dynamics.  Businesses suffered, yes, but ultimately the employee suffered the most.


One position I held in my career, I was shocked that no matter how hard I tried, I could not find a way to trust my manager.  Yes, you read that right.  I was actively looking for a way to trust him, but he kept proving himself untrustworthy over and over again.  Thinking back, he probably did something almost daily that was questionable.


The biggest hindrance to being able to trust him was his need to control.  When someone wants to control you, they are showing you a lack of trust.  The more they don’t trust you, the more you don’t trust them. Begin the vicious cycle.


I’d like to share with you a few ways that he chipped away at my trust for him, and ultimately destroyed it.  Use these as a self-check of your own skills in case you are accidentally doing them yourself.  Or, be sure to employ the alternative solutions I suggest. 


Talking Badly About Others

When I started my job, I quickly felt like I was “sold” my position.  All the wonderful things I was told about the organization were not exactly there.  Always the optimist, and wanting to help fix things, I reported to my manager that it seemed as if everyone was unhappy.  This person didn’t like how this was done.  This project fell through due to lack of the right resource, so this person was frustrated.  And so on. 


My manager’s reaction shocked me.  He informed me that everyone being unhappy was each individual’s fault and proceeded to tell me something “bad” about each employee.  At first it felt like a compliment because I was better than everyone, right?  That wore off very fast when I realized he likely was telling everyone else how “bad” I was.


As a leader, you will get people in your office from time to time who are upset with another person.  It’s human nature.  However, you should never complain about either person to the other.  On the surface, the person will be happy, but they will begin to wonder if you say anything about them.  No matter if you do or not, they will never know for sure.


Do Nothing to Resolve an Issue

Not only did my manager talk bad about others, he also blamed each of them for why nobody was happy.  I had never worked somewhere where the majority (if not all) were miserable.  Normally, it’s a bad apple here or there that is just an unhappy person, right?


I thought if I brought it to my manager’s attention, he would want to fix it.  Who wants an unhappy team?  Apparently he was ok with that.  Eventually I learned that keeping people unhappy gave him a sense of control over them.  Occasionally he would come in and fix something and they would be happy for a brief moment and that gave him power.


Unfortunately, what he didn’t realize was that if the team was happy all the time, he would have even more power and influence to get more done.  If an issue is brought to your attention do your best to help resolve it.  Evaluate if it’s a learning lesson for those involved, or if it’s something where you need to step in.  Perhaps it’s something you can change and resolve without involving anyone else. 


Happy people are more trusting.  Trusting people work harder!


Hold Yourself Accountable

When it comes to controlling others, the easiest way is to set a bunch of restrictions.  You must do this.  You can’t do that.  Answer my email, text message, phone call, or instant message immediately at all times. 


Some people look at that as having high standards for their team.  If that is the case, I challenge them to see if they are holding themselves accountable to the same restrictions.  It has been my experience that they probably are not.


My manager came and went whenever he felt like it, but we had to have a set schedule and couldn’t leave one minute early.  If I had a question he was almost impossible to reach, but if I didn’t respond immediately to him he reprimanded me.  He knocked off a couple hours early after the Christmas lunch so he could finish his shopping, but the team had to go back to the office and wait until 5 p.m. to go home.  None of this built trust with the team.


Today I would like to challenge you to ensure your skills to be a manager include the ability to lead through trust, not control.  Give it some time and let your team rise to the test.  You will be glad you did, and so will your team!


{#/pub/images/20120913174147_DSC_14831small.jpg}Written by Emilie Shoop, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting A sought after Coach, Mompreneur, Strategist, Mentor, Speaker, Author, Trainer & Business Consultant, Emilie works with people who are ready for that next level of success, and realize how they work with people is KEY.  Her coaching will help you lead, delegate, sell, collaborate, perform, influence, and relate with people to launch your success to the next level. She provides clients, teams and organizations the skills and tools for leadership and professional excellence.

Do you have a management question for Emilie?  Post it in our First Time Manager/Supervisor Community and she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert



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