You’re certainly not alone. But it might be partly your fault.
While the demands of leadership can be intense at the best of times, (and for most of us these are certainly not the best of times), it’s also true that too many leaders take on too much of the burden because we just don’t really trust our teams.
The symptoms can be subtle, and self-diagnosis is tricky when the disease itself is rooted in some degree of self-deception; but your healthy impact and survival as a leader may depend on taking an intentional look at whether you are holding too much in your own hands because you believe no one else is truly capable of handling it.
If every decision requires your personal approval.
If you find yourself redoing your subordinates assignments.
If you’ve been accused of micromanaging.
If in your heart you secretly feel like it would all collapse without you.
If you can’t take a day off, let alone a two week vacation, without checking in frequently and worrying the whole time.
You have a trust issue.
There are two possible legitimate causes for not trusting your team.
1. Competence: If your people don’t have the skills, knowledge, or experience to do what needs to be done you need to get them training in whatever way they learn best. Developing staff is a key responsibility of effective leaders and it may be a time when investing more in addressing skill gaps or hiring better equipped people needs to be a particular priority.
2. Character: If you can’t trust someone to give their best effort or act with integrity you probably need to challenge, confront, or terminate them. It may be that they don’t understand the expectations or the effect of their failings. Or it may be that they have other issues outside of work that are dragging them down. In any case, character issues are too often tolerated for far too long compromising the culture and impact of the whole organization.
If your people really aren’t trustworthy and you can’t lead them to become trustworthy they need to go.
It’s also possible though that the real reasons you don’t trust your team are about your own issues.
If you are driven by insecurity, have a need for absolute control, lack deeply rooted confidence, are trying to prove yourself, or are feeling inadequate, intimidated, or like an imposter there’s a pretty good chance you’re vulnerable to not trusting others because you don’t trust yourself.
Maybe you’ve been burned or betrayed in the past.
Maybe you were raised with unrealistic expectations.
Maybe you have a compelling drive to perfectionism.
All are valid reasons for trust to be difficult, but you have to get past them if you want to approach your potential as a leader and as an organization.
There’s good news here. There is hope. You can become more trusting of your team if you’re willing to do some personal reflection and some hard work. It might take some uncomfortable vulnerability but it will absolutely be worth it for you and for your team.
Catalyst has a couple tools that could be useful.
The REACTION Dashboard will help your team identify areas where trust needs to grow and set action steps to get there. Our Kryptonite session gives individuals and teams strategies to recognize how insecurity is affecting them and to make helpful practical changes. Contact us to see if there’s something we can do to help you build the kind of trust that makes leadership easier, more effective, and a lot more fun.