A recent article I found (while researching this post) talks about how dangerous it is to not use your blinkers, and that in fact blinkerless maneuvers cause more accidents than distracted (such as texting) driving. Interestingly, it’s quite possible someone didn’t use their turn signal because they were texting. Double whammy.
According to the article, “drivers skipped using their signal lights during 48% of lane-changes and in 25% of full turns.” That means (to me, anyway) that it seems to be getting harder and harder to “trust” a blinker when we see one (or don’t see one).
We’ve all seen someone driving down the highway with their turn signal on for miles and miles, and you KNOW they have no intention of changing lanes. On the other hand, we have probably all been the victim of waiting for a car to go by so we can pull out of a driveway, only to have them turn unexpectedly (due to turn signal neglect) before they got to us.
These inconsistencies lead to a tentativeness around the intention of the driver. 99.9% of the time, I don’t even KNOW the other driver, but the behavior of others has conditioned this distrust in me.
So why are we talking about turn signals on a leadership blog? Because leaders have issues with consistency, too, and if the stats above prove that this is dangerous business in terms of blinkers, it’s also dangerous business for leaders.
How about this… we know our employees are watching us, right? What if they saw us do the “right” thing only 52% of the time? Even doing the right thing 75% of the time leaves a lot of room for improvement. And that’s also a lot of room for misinterpretation, guessing, unsureness, misunderstandings and… oh yeah… distrust.
Trust is the bedrock of any relationship, and is something you will likely have to work at earning throughout your time as a leader. Some people will trust you until you give them a reason not to, while others make you earn it from the get-go. In either case, here are some things you can do to be consistent AND earn your employees’ trust:
- Do what you say you are going to do. It sounds SO simple, and you have likely heard others make this point, but it’s worth repeating. When you tell someone you will do something, then you don’t do it, not only are your actions inconsistent with your words, but you’ve also broken a promise to them. Keeping promises (to yourself and others) is so powerful that there is an entire social movement dedicated to helping people keep their promises. It’s called “because I said I would.” They even have t-shirts!
- Don’t play favorites. There are MANY forms of favoritism, from giving certain people special assignments to not enforcing policies consistently. Remember what we said about employees watching you? They notice things like unfair (or even seemingly unfair) treatment, or when another employee seems to be getting away with something. They also talk to each other, and probably share more than you want them too. Treat people fairly (and explain your actions) and you won’t have to worry about it.
- Be honest. “Oh what a tangled web we weave…” It’s much easier to be consistent (and build trust) when you are honest. It could start with something innocent meant to spare someone’s feelings, but the more it grows the harder it is to make it right. You get caught up in a situation where if you do tell them the truth, you are now being inconsistent. That’s no good.
While it wasn’t my intention, if this post served as a PSA to use your blinkers, great. If it encouraged you to think about ways to ensure you are being consistent so you can build greater trust, even better.
Thanks for reading!
About the author: Full disclosure… Matt has been accused (and rightfully so) for on occasion not using his blinker to the fullest extent of its capacity. That ends now.