Ten Time-Tested Truths about Leadership (Part 3 of 5):

by V. S. Ravi Elangkoh

“The theme of leadership is a team that trusts;
the thrust of trust is relationships that last.”
                                                                                            ~ V. S. Ravi Elangkoh

In Part 3 of our five-part series, we discuss the fifth and sixth truths about leadership, as espoused by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner.

Team and teamwork - 4 characters with puzzle piecesTruth no. 1:  YOU make a difference.
Truth no. 2:  Credibility is the foundation of leadership
Truth no. 3:  Values drive commitment.
Truth no. 4:  Focusing on the future sets leaders apart
Truth no. 5:  You can’t do it alone.
Truth no. 6:  Trust rules.
Truth no. 7:  Challenge is the crucible for greatness.
Truth no. 8:  You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all.
Truth no. 9:  The best leaders are the best learners.
Truth no. 10: Leadership is an affair of the heart.

Truth no. 5: You can’t do it alone.

Leaders must cultivate a strong relationship with their people in order to achieve a formidable team that can take on gargantuan tasks. No leader can achieve much without their team. Their so-called personal best is actually the team’s best. There’s no individual glory in leadership. That’s why I support the fifth truth with my own adage that, “The theme of leadership is a team that trusts.”

To connect with people, leaders need exceptional listening skills and the ability to empathize with their people’s needs. Good leaders are in tune with what their people are going through, and are able to draw out the team’s common values and vision; consequently, this creates resonance within the team.

In physics, we learn how resonance can be a very powerful force. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge over Puget Sound Washington collapsed in 1940 due to strong winds that caused resonance vibrations set up by strong winds acting on the bridge. Witness how the bridge’s solid concrete structure could wobble in the winds like a rubber band-like in this video footage at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Fi1VcbpAI&feature=player_embedded

That is also why soldiers marching across bridges are advised to break step, i.e. not to march in united rhythm in order to avoid creating a strong force of resonance that could take the bridge down. At least two bridge collapses in history in 1831 (England) and 1850 (France) were attributed, at least in part, to soldiers marching in unison.

When teams emit resonant harmonies, their productivity and effectiveness skyrocket – everyone becomes part of a powerful force; everyone is empowered. Kouzes and Posner don’t explicitly use the term “empower” but that’s what they mean when they assert that leaders should provide support and make others “feel strong and capable”.

Truth no. 6: Trust rules.

Founder and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, once stated, “Trust the coffee and trust one another.” The aromatic essence of trust must have effectively percolated throughout Starbucks because we read that the company’s total net revenue increased 15% to USD32 billion under the headline, “Starbucks Reports Record Second Quarter Fiscal 2012 Results” at http://investor.starbucks.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=99518&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1688089&highlight=

Research findings indicate that high-trust organizations outperform low-trust organizations by an astonishing 286 percent (study by Watson Wyatt in 2002). No trust, no gain! Trust is king where performance is concerned.

Are you a trustworthy leader? Do others trust you? Do you trust your team?
For trust to be meaningful, it must not only be pervasive, but it must also be lasting. Trust should not be a fragile framework that can easily crumble with backstabbing and gossip from the rumour mill. Instead, trust must be a bulwark that will withstand the pressures of harsh criticisms and misunderstood motives.

In conclusion, I would like to summarize the sixth truth of leadership with the following expression: “The thrust of trust is relationships that last.”

[Image courtesy of Stuart Miles]

(To be continued in Part 4)