People live into the story you tell them.
If you tell others that they are worthy of being trusted they will live into that story and they will be trustworthy. If your actions communicate to people that they are not worthy of being trusted they will live into that story too.
When people know that you believe in them they live into the story that says they should be believed in.
We are often taught that we should start out strict and then as people earn our trust we can loosen up. I disagree. There are exceptions but for the most part I want to lead (and parent) in a way that leads with the assumption that you are worthy of being trusted.
(Daniel Pink has a great book on intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation called Drive. Worth reading.)
Some people see this kind of leadership as soft. I disagree. Leading in a high control/low trust culture is actually very easy. You simply exert your authority and others follow or get out. You don’t really lead you just hold people to something. This works as long as you can see everything and instill enough fear into your followers. People will often meet but never exceed your expectations for them. If they can get away with it they perform well under your expectations.
In high control/low trust environments people work to appease you and nothing more. This is clean and easy but it is not best. There is a lot of black and white in this environment.
Annie and I intentionally parent our kids in a relatively high trust/low control way. It would be much easier to exert my authority more often. People would probably look at us with more respect when we are out in public because our kids would be well behaved. As long as we are around our kids would do the right thing. I hope our kids are learning to do the right thing because it is the right thing and not because it keeps mom and dad happy, even if people look at us funny.
In a high trust/low control environment people will work for something far more important than satisfying you.
They will often exceed any expectations you had for them. They will live into a story that says they are capable of great things. It may be a little shocking to them at first because they are not used to this but eventually they will come alive and live into what they were uniquely created for.
Your job as a leader changes but it doesn’t become easier. Instead of setting one standard for the whole team (family, company, classroom etc) and holding them to it you work with each individual to help them discover their giftedness. You support them, equip them, listen to them, model for them, ask them questions, invite them into something greater. You spend a lot of time talking about why and allow others to figure out the best what. Every person in your organization will have different expectations but that is okay because they aren’t doing it to meet your expectations anyway. There is a lot of gray and a lot of uncertainty. This is messy and challenging but it is best.
We spend way too much time reminding each other how messed up we are. We tell each other a story that says we are not worthy of being trusted. We create accountability groups, which are really just another name for sitting around telling each other what failures we are.
God says something different and we need to join him in reminding each other of that.
You are his perfect creation, fearfully and wonderfully made by the God of the universe.
You were made in his image.
You are God’s masterpiece created to do good works.
We should have reminder groups not accountability groups.
We need to sit in circles and remind each other of who we really are and then encourage each other to go live into that story.
I want to tell people a story worth living into.
I want to be a high-trust low- control leader.
Every night when I put Nick to bed I say, “You are God’s Masterpiece,” and then I ask him what that means and he says, “God made me just the way he wanted to.” He’s right.
God also made you just the way he wanted to.