Predictability is a core foundation of trust. In fact it is a requirement if you want people to trust you. And in the world of work it is often where you, as a leader, have the best opportunity to earn the trust of the people you work with.
The Oxford Dictionary defines trust as “the firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone.” Or in my words, can you count on someone! Certainly being honest and having skills is important but what people are watching is your behavior. Do they have confidence in what you will do or say next – based on what you have done and said in the past.
Roger Fisher and Scott Brown in their book, Getting Together, highlight that personal predictability is the one constant that can maintain trust, even in complex and uncertain work environments. So how do leaders demonstrate predictability? You certainly can’t make guarantees and you can’t predict the future with 100% certainty but you can take the following actions:
- Don’t over commit. Carefully examine what what you are committing to do. Following through on a commitment is more important than making a large number of commitments.
- Document or note your commitments. In the chaos of leadership it is easy to lose track of statements you have made to people.
- Take time to review your commitments. It is easy to get distracted or to move on to your next task. Taking the time to review commitments and purposely finishing them makes you trustworthy to others.
- Provide updates. Let others know the behind the scenes progress you are making or share the reasons that priorities have changed. Don’t be a black hole.
There are few guarantees in the world but demonstrating that you can be counted on helps your people say, “Yes, I trust you!”