John Maxwell wrote that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We, the followers of leaders, want to know that we are safe as we travel down a new path or toward creating a new vision or goal. Because a journey of creation always involves some risk, we want to have some measure of faith and are constantly concerned for our safety. The way we feel safe is by telling ourselves that we trust our leader. Trusting our leader comes down to this essential question, “do I believe my leader has my best interest at heart?” In other words, do I believe my leader knows me and cares about me.
I will believe that my leader (my boss, manager, supervisor, etc.) has my best interest at heart only when I believe that they KNOW my best interest. If my boss doesn’t know my strengths, goals, career aspirations, and unique talents then she cannot possibly know what my personal and professional interest are. If she doesn’t know what my interests are then she is not able to hold those in her mind and heart. If she cannot hold my interest in heart when she’s making decisions, then I wont’ trust her!
Trust can be maintained and enhanced by knowing our people’s interest. We know their interest when we pay attention to them. When we pay attention to them they know we care. And when we care about them they will care about what we have to say and what we have to accomplish.
How then do effective leaders learn their people’s interest? They pay attention. In particular:
Ask open ended questions that require thoughtful responses; these responses reveal a persons thinking
Make time for undistracted interaction; turn away from emails and collaborate in decision making
Coach your employees on career advancement; this will provide immediate information about their interests
Look for their uniqueness; imagine you are a talent scout trying to find the best features of each player
When you care, people trust you. You have to care, because without trust your team will not risk themselves. Without risk there are no rewards, no innovation, and no growth… in other words, no leadership.