This one difficult discipline makes a BIG difference when leading people. The discipline is giving other people benefit of the doubt when it comes to we believe their INTENTIONS are. In other words, do we believe they have good intentions toward their jobs, their team and us as leaders?
- Does the team member simply need to be coached on the right way to do things or do we believe they are lazy and trying to do things the wrong way because it's easy?
- Was the mistake in their update an accident or were they trying to deceive you to avoid accountability?
- Is your team member giving you an accurate account of their conflict with another team member or are they spinning it to win?
What I've learned over time is that we will verbally and non-verbally express how we feel about a person to them whether we want to or not. And if we express distrust in them, we are questioning their integrity and there's just no real chance of us working together as a team when that happens.
Here's the good news. When you assume good intentions from others, they feel it and will respond in a way that is MUCH more likely to have a positive outcome. When people know you are giving them benefit of the doubt,
- They will open up more and tell you what's really going on.
- You can ask difficult questions that don't feel accusatory because of your tone and body language.
- People know that you really do want what's best for them, the team and the business.
But this is NOT EASY to do. In fact, it's very difficult to do once your gut has told you they are lazy, liars or politicians. Give them benefit of the doubt. Even say it out loud to them. THEN you are ready to ask the hard questions and give honest, candid feedback. Try it.