After a recent team conversation I was reminded how important feeling safe is to people. When safety is there, conversations have a depth and significance that put individuals and teams on a path to a good place.
I named my company The trU Group because in my years leading and helping leaders I have come to believe that the two key things for leaders to focus on every day is Building trUst and leveraging that trUst to get the trUth spoken. One of the adjectives I would use to describe a great conversation – SAFE.
I am a consultant, so when I go into an organization I often get bombarded with opinions and information. Inherent in that information are various versions of the trUth. The question I have learned to ask, especially if I am hearing a frustration with someone else is How has this information been shared with person x? Here is how I read safety based on the answer:
- I can’t share it. / There is no way I can share it. – My standard rule when I hear this is there is a safety issue. This needs a follow-up question like. Tell me a little more about that? or What is the barrier?
- Not yet. / I am not sure how to share it. – Not a safety issue, probably a courage or skill issue. A great situation for coaching.
So what is a standard rule for leaders to create safety? I would share a quote that sums it up.
Truth-telling works best when it involves revealing your own feelings, not when it is used to insult others and get your own way.
George Leonard – Mastery (p. 126)
In the end. Leader go first, and focus on the things that the person you are talking about cannot see (ie: What you are feeling. What is on your mind. What is keeping you up? What has gone really well this week?) My only do not statement is – DONOT start with a critique of what someone is doing wrong.
You will know when SAFETY is there. Just listen for it.