Leading & Helping Those We Lead To Trust The Journey

My thoughts about communicating well about the journey ahead.

– Give people as much information as you can about the destination. Most people don’t like mystery tours. The less information they have about where they are going the more anxious they become.

– Update them regularly along the way with your assessment of the progress we’re making. Answering questions like “where are we?” and “where are we relative to where we expected to be?” in terms of time and place.

– Even better share with them from the outset how we intend to measure our progress and give them access to that data in real time or regularly. That way they can track progress themselves and there is never a vacuum that attracts unhelpful speculation.

– Give them information about key milestones they should keep an eye open for along the way so they have something to look out for and can validate the fact we are making progress for themselves and feel good about that.

– Be prepared to communicate with them “off cycle” if something unexpected happens that requires explanation and reassurance. Saying nothing when unexpected things happen will fuel fear – if things get turbulent over communicate. Silence is not golden in times of change.

– Be honest and consistently so in terms of where we are, and what’s helping or hindering our progress. Trust is built when we are honest about what’s getting in our way as well as what’s helping us to get ahead. This information equips those we lead to be part of the answer not the problem.

– Be clear and concise if there is anything you need those you lead to do along the way. Equip them at the outset and along the way with the information/ tools they need to respond appropriately on the journey. In the absence of this information and these tools you turn yourself into a sheep dog and those you lead into sheep. In which case you will grow to resent them because they don’t appear to know what to do or where to go, and guess whose fault that is!

– Don’t allow the fact you are on a journey to distract you from ensuring their basic needs are met. In fact the fact you are journeying will require you to be more intentional and disciplined about this.

– Look out for those who look and sound particularly nervous and give them focused time and attention. It helps if they are surrounded by those who are confident and comfortable travellers. Look out for clusters (whole teams) who are struggling. Don’t assume those who are struggling with the journey are bad people or subversive. They are usually neither but they are human and humans respond to change very differently.

– If someone wants to get off the bus then stop and let them off with honour and dignity. One sure fire way to undermine trust is to treat leavers badly. Whether they articulate it or not those left on the bus will be left feeling very uneasy if those who want to get off the bus are thrown under it in the process of being let off it. The reality is that not everyone who starts to journey will make it to the end particularly if the destination changes along the way. There will also be others who want join en route. The way in which those who want to join are welcomed is equally important to build trust. Generally speaking no one trusts a stranger so strangers on the bus can cause anxiety.

– Be honest with yourself about your own feelings about the journey (ie. emotional intelligence). Don’t deny these feelings, manage them. Some times it will be appropriate to acknowledge the way you feel. Authenticity , honesty and integrity build trust. If you’re afraid the people who follow you will see it in your eyes and sense it in your words so either deal with your fear so you are no longer afraid or share it in a way that makes people feel safe. 

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