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High-Trust Relationships Start With Intentional Communication

By Joey Havens

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This blog is the seventh in the series, My Top 10 Blunders and How You Can Avoid Them.

Sadly, as I progressed in my career, I developed a trust problem with my peers. Worse, my self-awareness around this trust issue was very poor as I perceived myself as a high-trust partner. Why wouldn’t I? I produced strong results, honored my commitments, I was growing the firm, growing people and leaders. And I was hardworking and loyal. As I began to receive feedback to the contrary in my annual evaluations, it floored me. I couldn’t believe my partners, my team had this perception of me.  I became defensive, agitated and truthfully, I was hurt. I compounded this problem by ignoring the feedback because obviously, it was wrong and probably a result of professional jealousy. 

But, as I began to follow up on this, I discovered it had little to do with my performance, my results or honoring my commitments. This lack of trust really revolved around communicating and connections. I allowed my introvert tendencies to limit my openness. They wanted me to know them as a person, not just a team member. I began to realize that I must spend more time with people to connect on a personal level, to understand their vision, challenges and fears. I also learned that they wanted to know more about me and who I was as in individual. 

As I assumed more leadership roles, my mentor and coach helped me realize that I needed to be quicker to communicate my opinion so team members didn’t perceive me as hiding a personal agenda since my natural tendency was to hold these thoughts as I processed them and not to think out loud.

Once I understood these disconnects and that my natural tendencies caused doubt, I was able to practice better habits and be intentional with my communications.  It has resulted in high-trust relationships.  My intentional connection with my partners eventually led to my selection as our firm’s next executive partner and because of this vote of confidence, I went from hurt to overjoyed to have earned the trust of my partners. 

My advice: Be intentional to know and understand your team members. Be intentional about communicating your vision and opinions. Seek others to validate your own self-awareness  ̶ their viewpoint provides valuable feedback. Always include and listen to those who will be affected by your decisions. Frankly, it is far more rewarding to be vulnerable and to care deeply about your team and clients.