I recently did a video training on what leading with grace at work truly looks like. It was a great experience because I unpacked what I know to be the return on investment when you lead with grace, and that return is trust.
When there is trust in the workplace, your business will truly transform in ways you could not imagine. You develop a stronger sense of purpose, you build deeper relationships with those around you, and you see greater results in your business execution.
When you don’t have trust, you will experience the very real challenges of disruption and the loss of a moral filter. You lose leaders who display high standards of morals and ethics in their decision-making. Lastly, you stir up an ‘it’s all about me’ culture that leads to anarchy.
So how do you actually instill trust within the layers of your organization?
I’ve found that the very best and most trusted leaders are the ones who can cultivate the heart, the mind and respect of the individual. Here are my thoughts on how this can empower you and your team to lead with excellence.
CULTIVATING THE HEART
First, demonstrate that you care about the person as an individual. That’s what matters to them – that their contribution is important to you, and that you recognize and celebrate them. It’s a set of values you want to ensure they see in themselves. You also want to nurture their sense of achievement so it replicates and opens itself up frequently and in a larger way.
A great example of this was when Walmart first launched its Personal Sustainability Project (PSP). It was a part of their larger corporate initiative, Sustainability 360, which aimed to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy; to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain our resources and the environment.
We launched PSP not knowing whether or not we could really ignite the hearts of our associates to make this global impact. However, soon after we introduced PSP, we were thrilled to see it resulted in almost a half million of our associates making commitments to recycle, save energy and focus on wellness. We even expanded the concept to other countries like China, so that associates around the world could have the opportunity to improve their health and the health of the environment.
It was an unbelievable adoption rate that truly spoke to the hearts of our associates that gave them an individual way to contribute to bettering the earth and bettering themselves.
CULTIVATING THE MIND
Cultivating the mind of your team starts with asking, not telling. When you actively encourage and motivate your team to come up with ideas and solutions you will inspire new ways to innovate and grow your business. You also get their best thinking around the biggest challenges your organization faces. This requires you to invest time with them and be very clear about the challenge you’re trying to solve and the vision you have.
During my time at Walmart U.S., I worked for an incredible leader named Gisel Ruiz, the COO. I presented the new vision we had developed for the Talent Development Team. Gisel then asked me a game-changing question: “If I walked on to the floor where your people work, would they be able to tell me why their job exists? Could they share your mission and vision and how it impacts them?”
You can talk about your mission and vision, but if you never bring it to life for your team, you’re going to miss the mark and the opportunity to fuel purpose within the veins of each employee.
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When your team feels empowered and a sense of pride in the ideas they bring to the table, it will demonstrate a powerful sense of pride and purpose. For example, each month during the Walmart company team meeting, the CEO would provide a business update and then open it up for questions at the end. Each person asking a question would stand up, sharing their name and the department where they worked.
I made a point to have my entire Talent Development Team ask questions. Question after question, it soon became a running joke (in a positive way) that each of my team members always raised their hand and asked the CEO about something that tied to the company’s vision. This was our badge of honor, and it was a game-changer for our department. More importantly, it gave everyone in Talent Development a sense of empowerment and pride.
If you take care of your team members at every level of the organization, they will have your back and be open with you about what really goes on behind the scenes.
When there was a leader on my team who wasn’t treating individuals with respect and dignity, my hourly associates weren’t afraid to come to me and tell me. My associates taught me the true definition of success and were not going to let me fail.
Who are these individuals? They are the administrative staff, the coordinators, the payroll keepers or security guards and receptionists. They will teach you the real culture of the organization and share valuable insight with you.
Finally, when you capture the hearts, minds and respect of your team and cultivate a culture of trust, it will truly feel like everyone is delivering on their purpose. It will feel like there isn’t a challenge in front of you that you and your team can’t conquer.
This kind of cultivation isn’t just something you walk through the door and achieve. Instead, it’s something that is developed over time. It’s empowering, it builds confidence in you as a leader, it builds camaraderie and a powerful sense of ‘we’.
More importantly, you will instill a sense of humanity and values-driven leadership that some of the greatest companies have been founded upon. I hope this post inspires you to lead in a new way.