“Over time, I have come to this simple definition of leadership: Leadership is getting results in a way that inspires trust.” Stephen M. R. Covey
I love the beginnings of a project. The bigger the better. Nothing like that new project smell (think; ream of new paper).
The start of any project is often a flurry of activity. Resource requests, scheduling discovery sessions, prepping for kickoff, locking in the project sponsor, you know the story.
Amid the zoom calls and emails, there’s a little bit of concern, angst, and excitement. The reason is the undeniable fact, you are going to work, in proximity, for a while, with new people. This is cause for excitement and alarm.
People are the reason projects are wildly successful or the opposite (I call those, crash landings).
So, from the outset, it is dealing, collaborating, negotiating, and working with new people that consumes our emotional engagement with the project.
This is all perfectly normal.
Then the project starts, an icebreaker awkwardly stumbles across the finish line, and you're off to the races. Decorum, shirt collars, and smiles all get a little harder or easier each day.
What impacts this? Whether or not we trust our project team.
This brings us to our opening quote.
“Leadership is getting results in a way that inspires trust.”
Each person on a project is leading some element. Either the quality of their own work, other resources' time, having hard conversations, building out a testing plan etc. It is each person's responsibility to lead their part of the project in a way that "inspires" trust.
This quote is not just about formal leadership.
Covey's quote is a statement about clarity, expectations, and delivery.
If commitments are met. If words matter. If follow through is a standard.
Then the team will have no choice but to build trust. These are the direct actions that build trust in a team.
No one starts a project thinking that trust is the critical keystone to making it all work.
But doesn’t that make sense? The very definition of a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique project service or result.” (thank you PMI).
I read two things in that definition.
That means performance is necessary and people will need to be effective to achieve the results.
Trust is the key.
There are already so many things that can go wrong. Why let the people part get sideways? People do the project work. Nothing happens without people.
As a project team, instilling trust through our actions, words, and results will not only build trust, but it will contribute to a successful delivery of your project goals.
If you’ve read this far, then you must be looking for some tactical ideas so, let’s pick up our story from the beginning.
The project has started and people are starting to act like…...people (that joke never gets old). What can be done immediately, today, to begin building trust?
I’ll repeat those steps with an example
Yes, this is all manual. It cannot be automated. But these conversations and systems of accountability are the groundwork needed to foster trust.
Be the leader your project needs. Get results “in a way that inspires trust.”