Trust. We all know that trust is important in every relationship that we have, both personally and in business. Yet despite its importance, it can be challenging to articulate how we earn it, how we lose it and how we maintain it.
Arguably the world’s leading expert on trust is Dr. Brené Brown (in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been a fan girl for years). In March 2016, I heard Brené speak for Business Chicks in Sydney and something she said about trust that day has never left me. At the time, Brené was researching trust and leadership and she asked the 1,000 + gathering how they thought leaders could build trust. After some awkward silence and a few incorrect answers, Brené shared the results of her research.
Turns out the number one way a leader can build trust is to ask for help. Yup, it’s as simple as asking for help from your team. Now as a Brené Groupie, I had read all of Brene’s books and that stat didn’t surprise me. However, what she shared as the second most common way a leader can build trust, well that’s something I will never forget.
It’s when a leader shows up at an employee’s loved one’s funeral.
Now I don’t know about you, but I did not see that data point coming.
I believe we have a choice to look at this fact morbidly or learn from what it’s telling us. Outside of asking for help, as a leader you earn trust when you are truly there for someone, when they are at their most vulnerable. When you have a choice to be somewhere else, you make a clear decision to show up and be there for them when it counts. It’s about giving your two most precious assets, your time and attention when someone’s world has been turned on its head.
Fast forward four years to 2020 and there’s countless people who are at their most vulnerable right now. For me, as a business owner, it’s that one data point Dr. Brene’ Brown shared in March 2016 that’s informing my choices about how I can best show up.
Once I got over the shock of COVID-19, the impact on my business and home-schooling 3 kids, I remembered what Brené shared that day and I made a conscious decision that I was going to show up when it counts. That’s why I’m spending a lot of my time calling my clients to ask how they are doing, like how are they really doing. How are their family, their extended family and how are they personally doing? I stay curious and just listen, really listen.
Some of these chats have lasted over an hour and one thing I purposely have not spoken about is the work we do with them. In a lot of a ways it’s allowed us to have conversations that we would have not otherwise ever had, and I’ve been grateful for the authenticity and the laughs – it’s been food for my soul too. So Brené if you’re out there, thank you. Thank you because what you taught me back in 2016 has given me the direction that I’ve needed to pick up the phone and connect with my clients.
Now I can’t tell you what this will mean for my client’s businesses or my business moving forward but what I do know is people’s worlds have been turned upside down and the best I can do now is genuinely show up for them when it counts. At the very least we will have built trust, which all things aside, has more value for me than anything else anyway.