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Trusting Yourself, Trusting Your People

by David Brock on February 4th, 2020

Charlie Green and I were having a conversation about “Trust.” (Charlie is the world’s go to person on anything having to do with trust, particularly in sales.) We were discussing a concept I had, I’m still trying to work it out in my mind, Charlie helped in clarifying it.

Let me try it on you, I’d love your feedback and ideas.

I am thinking about the concept of trust as it applies to sales management. I was trying to understand the difference between managers that display trusting behaviors–genuinely, not naively. I’ve noticed the managers that tend to do this are the highest performers and best leaders.

I’ve also noticed these managers have a high degree of “self trust,” and that translates into trust in their people.

These managers focus on the following:

  • Making sure they have the right people in place.
  • Making sure the people clearly understand their jobs, performance expectations, and how they contribute to the organization’s overall goals.
  • Making sure their people understand the key priorities and goals of the manager/organization (Otherwise known as “Commander’s Intent.”)
  • Making sure they have provided the systems, processes, tools, programs, training, etc. to do their jobs.
  • Making sure they get the support their people need to do their jobs.
  • Making sure they both protect and promote their people within the organization.
  • Making sure they continue to coach and develop their people.
  • Making sure they and their people continue to learn and develop ans people and business professionals.

In doing these things, these managers, “trust” their people to do their jobs. They engage in adding value in helping their people, but they never micro-manage, because they know they are doing the things most important to maximizing performance in the organization.

This concept is analogous to the concept of “Commander’s Intent.” There’s a great discussion of this in General Mattis’ “Call Sign Chaos.”

Contrast this with poor managers and micromanagers. One might assume micromanagement is a manifestation of their lack of trust in their people. But the more of these managers I meet and interview, the more I discover their own lack of self confidence and trust in themselves.

While they never admit it, and many of their behaviors tend to overcompensate for their own lack of understanding of what drives performance. Too often, these managers have failed to do the things great managers do. As a result, they are filled with uncertainty and self doubt. To compensate for this, they tend to micromanage, assign blame, divert attention from their own capability.

What are your thoughts?

Does a manager’s own lack of confidence in their own abilities, drive them not to trust their own people?

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4 Comments
  1. Dave,

    This is a very productive line of thought. I might use different terms for your ‘self-trust’ – (strong ego, in the good sense of the word; low self-orientation; a devotion to principles and mission over short-term transactions), but it’s really pretty much the same.

    Thank you for the Mattis citation; I think that’s right on. As is the idea that sales managers must be comfortable achieving success as an agent, rather than in getting others to ‘do what I say.’

    Thank you.

  2. DONALD MULHERN permalink

    This one was very thought provoking for me. I had to read it a couple of times to really get what you are driving at (yes, I’m slow :-).

    Your point makes perfect sense to me now; if we have trust in all the things you mention (“making sure…” statements), then we are confident that people are given the right direction, resources, support, tools, etc. so we can trust we have the right people trying to do the right things (Commanders Intent). And if they don’t they have “making sure” type mechanisms to correct it.

    This assumes, though, that they 1) understand what those “making sure” items are and that they’re important, and 2) have the ability and discipline to put them in place (they should read Sales Manager Survival Guide :). So I think your final point, “these managers have failed to do the things great managers do”, is key. They’re not doing the right things because they don’t even know what the right things are, or they are incapable of doing them. Or, perhaps worse yet, they are confident in what they’re dysfunction-ally doing because they’re clueless.

    • Thanks for commenting Don. I struggled with writing this post and it didn’t have the clarity it should have. Your comments are helpful in doing that.

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