not-just-vision-trust

This is the first of a three-part series this month that focuses on leadership in persuasive communication through one-on-one relationships.


Often, we mistakenly think that 1:1 persuasion is all about sharing our vision and taking whatever steps are necessary to get people on board, and moving along with us.

The foundation for leading through 1:1 persuasive communication isn’t all about where you’re trying to take people. Instead, it’s about trust.

Trusting you is my decision. Proving me right is your choice.

-Anonymous

As a leader, you can have the most exciting vision and profound insights to get you there. On the surface these may appear to inspire anyone to action. You may be thinking: Anyone should be able to buy into this great vision that I have for our organization or business. But if your audience doesn’t trust you, you won’t lead.

President Johnson, for example, had to rally the nation after the death of JFK. As Johnson ascended to the presidency, he was filling a void left by the man voters had duly elected to the role. With the nation in mourning for its young, aspirational president’s death, LBJ had to bring the country together. How does a president do this? Trust.

LBJ had to win over the trust of the nation to advance his agenda. In the wake of Kennedy’s death, Johnson leveraged the vision that won Kennedy the presidency to corral a coalition of support. He then relied on personal relationships with key members of Congress to usher through legislation that defined the era. Without person-to-person conversations, Johnson would have found it nearly impossible to forever alter the course of American society.

Perhaps this is a good place to pause and take a self-inventory. Ask yourself: Do people around you trust you? Moreover, ask someone close to you that you personally trust the same question.

In this self-evaluation below, I have taken 11 aspects of trust for you to consider. These are from my previous book, Unleashing Your Superpower: Why Persuasive Communication Is The Only Force You Will Ever Need.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Am I consistent with everyone around me?
  • Do I deliver as promised?
  • Am I open and authentic?
  • Do I show confidence?
  • Am I truthful?
  • Do I make people feel safe?
  • Am I willing to say “no” sometimes?
  • Am I open to feedback?
  • Do I make time for those around me?
  • Am I reliable?

If any aspect of this list is missing in your leadership, people around you are less likely to trust you. You see, when people begin to wonder whether or not they trust you, they already do not. And if they don’t trust you, you cannot lead. At least, you won’t without brute force or manipulation.

Early in my career, I worked with a CEO that had amazing vision. He had boundless energy, grit, charisma, determination and drive.

And for a while, that worked. The organization grew. Actually, the organization exploded with growth. I had never seen organizational growth like what I experienced during this phase of my career.

I remember thinking that the vision was unstoppable. And while I was already part of the largest teams of my career, while surpassing all professional dreams, I believed we were on the early side of the trajectory with no end in sight.

I was captivated. Personally performing at optimal levels, I could not even comprehend where we were heading; it was the ride of my life.

Everything seemed perfect. Until it wasn’t.

Cracks in trust within the ranks of the organization began to appear. The leader had, slowly and over time, lost trust with team members. In fact, looking back, I think the leader broke every one of the reflection questions I posed earlier.

And once it began to crumble, it collapsed at record speed. Within twelve months, it was over. The leader was removed from the organization.

I was devastated, and so was everyone around me.

If you want to lead by persuading those around you with 1:1 conversations, and I believe that you do, it must begin with a foundation of trust. Otherwise, you’re building a house of cards. And it will always crumble in time.

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