Great Leadership Teams Are Built On A Foundation Of Trust

Our firm always emphasizes that the primary way to move the needle from the 60% industry average 18-month retention rate of new executive hires, to the 97% that our process produces, is to take relationship formation seriously.

To potential corporate clients we talk to, however, “relationship formation” often sounds squishy, and difficult to measure.

People inherently ARE difficult to measure.

As I’ve written before, human beings cannot be reduced to a pile of data that makes all their behavior calculable. While assessment data can be helpful, and insightful, it is not a foolproof predictor of future performance.

Nothing is… just look at the disappointing track record of Heisman Trophy recipients once they get to the NFL. An assessment from their college performance would provide a tremendous data point regarding their success at the next level. However, the percentage of them that become strong performers as a pro is small.

Strengths and weaknesses, training and experience, intelligence and skills are all observable and good to discover and evaluate before a hire. However, someone that checks all the right boxes in each of those categories can underperform or fail miserably if the right working relationship with the executive team isn’t there.

Exploring and forming a strong relationship with a qualified person will produce a better performing employee and leadership team every time.

That working relationship, if boiled down to its essence, is built on a foundation of trust.

Trust has to be the foundation for any successful relationship, whether it’s with an executive team, a project team, a partnership, a marriage, a friendship, or any other worthwhile endeavor.

Trust is apparent in how people hear and understand each other, and how they deal with each other when challenges arise.

When people trust each other’s motives, values, and intentions, they give each other the benefit of the doubt when the messaging is unclear. They assume the best of intentions when a particular action wasn’t what was expected. They are more willing to accept minor failures in order to drive to future success.

Trust produces greater transparency and grace. In turn, greater transparency and grace produce more trust. It’s a cycle that leads to better performance for any team because the shared goal becomes the primary focus rather than the concerns that spring up from a lack of trust in a team.

Trust can be given. Maintaining trust, however, is earned. In order to maintain trust, parties need to be trustworthy. There needs to be transparency, follow-through, and met expectations or failure that does not undermine the integrity or core values of the organization. Trust can be easily lost, and difficult to regain. That is as true among a leadership team as it is in a marriage.

When evaluating a candidate to join a leadership team, an overarching consideration, whether consciously or unconsciously, is whether they are someone that can be trusted!

How can that be determined in a compressed timeframe of an interview process? There are no foolproof ways to make that determination. However, there are ways to get a good idea…

Be transparent about the plusses as well as minuses of the organization, leadership styles, the role and more. If that transparency is reciprocated in kind, it is more likely the candidate will be more trustworthy. It’s easier to trust people that are willing to share their stumbles as easily as they share their triumphs.

Ask probing questions, not only about WHAT they’ve experienced, however, also about WHY they made choices and decisions and HOW they moved forward. When there are value choices they’ve made that match your own, there is a foundation that can be built upon.

Pay attention to whether you observe an openness and easiness in expressing their priorities and concerns or if the primary characteristics you observe are of hesitation, measured responses, and evasion.

HansenBack specializes in helping our clients and candidates build relationship and trust in the constraints of an interview process. Long-term placements that raise performance in organizations are the result.

For more details, contact us today!

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HansenBack is an Executive Recruiting firm based in Minneapolis. We have a 30+ year track record of helping our Clients hire and retain excellent executive leaders.

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