In sports speak, a great leader is the one who wins games. It does not matter how great ‘your team passes the ball.’ If they are not winning matches, tough questions are asked. If performance does not improve, the manager is sacked.
Whether it is managing a football team, a political office, or a business, leaders need people around them who have four qualities at a minimum – trust, loyalty, discipline, and expertise. I have worked with many leaders and executives, all of them agree that you can train expertise but not the first three.
Any leader, therefore, will choose people who they can trust, are loyal and disciplined than those with high skills and experience without the first three.
Why some people prefer dogs?
It is difficult if at all possible to train trust, loyalty and discipline. These are very rare skills today. It is for this reason, there is an increasing trend for many people now preferring to live with dogs, robots, cats and dolls instead of human beings. Dogs and cats are said to be intelligent, loyal and disciplined. Robots and dolls are loyal and disciplined. For Robots, they can do work!
I board Emirates Airlines because I believe they will never cut corners to maximize profits at the expense of their customers – we the travelers. For long, I have believed in Boeing planes for being reliable in terms of advanced technology and stability in the air regardless of the weather conditions they are flown in. Once I was in aboard a Boeing plane and we were heading to Singapore, we experienced severe turbulences mid-air. However the pilot made an announcement that calmed all of us – we are about a Boeing 717, fitted with the latest aviation safety technology, we shall ascend slightly and leave the turbulent air below. Tighten your seat belts, relax and enjoy your trip. We all went woooooahhhhh… and after about two minutes, all was back to normal. That is trust.
Trust is so sensitive to feelings and emotions. A single incident could threaten trust built over years of nurturing. Despite an excellent safety record, two incidents led to the grounding of the model globally! Passengers do not just believe in the model for air safety.
When you go to a hospital, you must trust the doctor to work in your best interests. If you as a patient, doubt about the doctor’s qualifications and professionalism, you are unlikely to accept to be treated. For that reason, many politicians prefer to travel abroad for treatment instead of locally. Reason? It is likely that they think they have cheated the local doctors so much in terms of poor service delivery, poor salaries, bad infrastructure set up, etc that they do not trust the system they have set up. They think I am sure wrongly, that some doctors may not treat them well. That lack of trust is enough to cause the government to ‘bleed’ by spending a fortune for medical care abroad.
When it comes to people you work with, who do you trust? Which staff is reliable? Which staff will do what they are expected to do without having to be reminded or told to do it? Which staff will tell you the news whether good or bad, but tell you anyway because they know it is the right thing to do? Which staff will be where they are supposed to be whether you see them or not? Which staff will do the right thing whether someone is watching or not? Which staff will act in the best interest of the company whether it could benefit them as individuals to cut corners at the expense of the company?
Trust is a rare commodity. Political leaders will retain cadres, soldiers, people due to trust than skill. For that reason, many offices of national importance world over are occupied by people who are not well-skilled just because the leaders find them to be trustworthy. For this reason, if you want to be a leader’s right-hand person, be a person of integrity. Be trustworthy. Learn to keep your mouth shut. Understand what your leader expects from you. And do it, where you are unable to ask to be helped.
The number one trust breaker is doing something which your boss did not know about. In leadership, keep surprises low. Imagine your boss expecting you to be in Kampala at the office. Only to find you aboard the same flight traveling out of the country? So many questions on their minds.
In mission-critical offices, that would mean no more trust. Therefore timely ongoing communication to update your supervisors is the glue that deepens trust.
To be continued.