Leaders Build Trust by Clarifying Expectations

The Second Wave: Relationship Trust

Building the Wave of Relationship Trust requires deliberate trust-building behaviors.

There are five competence-based behaviors: delivering results, getting better, confronting reality, clarifying expectations, and staying accountable. We’ll also explore the “counterfeit” versions of these behaviors. A counterfeit behavior is one that looks like the trust-building behavior, but instead of building trust, this behavior is distorted into something that tears trust down.

This week: Clarify Expectations

Disclose and reveal your expectations. Be specific. Validate your expectations by explaining the “why” behind them. Renegotiate if expectations are not getting met. Don’t violate your own or the organization’s expectations. Additionally, never assume the expectations are clear or have been shared.

The opposite of Clarifying Expectations is to never define them or ask for anything. Whereas not defining expectations or asking can be rare, a common “counterfeit” version of this behavior is Guessing. When you don’t pin down specifics, people will go with the flow of the situation based on their own interpretation. Meaningful accountability happens when there is a clear definition of results and deadlines; in their absence, however, we risk individual discernment that isn’t based on the mission.

I think of Patrick Lenicioni’s third Behavior of a Cohesive Team: Commitment. When teams have vulnerability-based trust and healthy productive conflict, it sets the stage for solid commitment. There are two key components to commitment: Buy-in and Clarity.
Clarity is such an issue in organizations that Lencioni made it a recurring topic in his book, The Advantage. In my work with groups, any time we push crystal clear clarity, measurable improvement happens.

What to do instead?

Say things like this:

  • What exactly do you want me to deliver? By when?
  • What are the measures of success?
  • How will we know we delivered?
  • What do we care most about–quality, speed, or cost?
  • What resources do you need to deliver results?
  • How and when will we follow up?
  • What have you understood from this conversation?
  • Who else needs to know about this?
  • What do you see as your next steps?
  • What do you see as my next steps?
  • Things have changed; let’s review what we expect from each other…

Stop guessing and being unclear. Clarify Expectations to build trust.

Next week: Practice Accountability.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

See more blog posts on The Speed of Trust.

#1: Leaders Invest in Trust
#2: Credibility Gaps: Leaders Know the Waves of Trust
#3: Behavior, Credibility, and the Wrong Kinds of Trust
#4: Leaders Know Credibility is Driven by Behavior
#5: Build Trust by Talking Straight
#6: Leaders Build Trust by Demonstrating Respect
#7: Leaders Build Trust by Creating Transparency
#8: Leaders Build Trust by Righting Wrongs
#9: Leaders Build Trust by Showing Loyalty
#10: Leaders Build Trust by Delivering Results
#11: Leaders Build Trust by Getting Better
#12: Leaders Build Trust by Confronting Reality

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