Does it ever feel like a complete mystery what your direct reports are thinking? Do you wish you had the silver bullet to get them onboard and pulling in the right direction? Well, there might not be any silver bullets, but there are three questions you can safely assume your employees need answered.
Do I trust you?
Simply put, people don’t want to follow you if they can’t trust you, and the key to earning trust is consistency of character. Perhaps you are an engineer who couldn’t muster empathy even if there was a gun held to your head. People will accept that about you if you’re consistent. But those who present caring and tender one day then volatile the next will lose the trust of their employees.
Are you committed to excellence?
One of the big fears of leaders is that if they mess up they will lose the trust of their followers. While it’s true that consistent incompetence will erode trust, employees actually want to hear you admit your mistakes. The question isn’t whether or not you make mistakes. The question is whether or not you’re willing to own those mistakes, learn from them and get better. Your commitment to excellence will shine as they watch you seek to improve yourself.
Do you care about me?
This one is tough for many leaders because we believe our job is to care about business results to the exclusion of caring about our people. But this represents zero sum thinking. Study after study has shown that caring for people is a leading indicator of positive business results.