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How to Build Trust, as an Agile Leader

Today I wanted to talk to you about a first subject which is very important to me and which I hold very dear in this agile world and in this agile state of mind. This is the subject of trust.

The importance of trust in Agile mode

Confidence makes it possible to create a space, a framework, for the teams, to be able to go faster. In particular because, when we manage to create this confidence between the members of the team, or between the leader and the teams, we manage to multiply tenfold the innovation, the ideas, the creativity.

It also helps us make better decisions, since we will feel more comfortable saying things, saying what we think and sharing with others. Maybe we don’t agree and that’s OK. The idea is really to be able to welcome all the good ideas, to improve continuously.

The fact of being able to agree to recognize that we have made mistakes allows us to go further, to perform better. It also helps to create a safe environment. We will feel better when we trust each other. This trust is important for these reasons in particular.

In agility we want to go quickly to do things, since we start from assumptions. We don’t yet have the certainty that the solution will work, so we have to go relatively quickly, to be able to deliver things. We have to learn to improve continuously, to collect feedback. Go create this trust allows us to accelerate certain internal processes within the team and between the leader, for example a product owner and the teams with which he will work, so that we can create this product and create value more quickly. .

This confidence is really very important to feel safe and to be able to say things. Everyone needs to feel safe, so they feel listened to and feel they have the opportunity to speak openly. We are not going to put the problems under the rug, we are going to try to create this framework so that everyone can talk, can share what they see, what they feel, so that they can share their experience and their ideas. . There’s no bad idea: we want to be able to be creative and innovative, because we don’t necessarily already have the solution.

We also want to improve together so we can get this confidence, this safe space, so that everyone can express themselves. This is what trust looks like: we will support each other and we will be able to speak openly, without fear of reprisals, without being ashamed to say things. We will really be able to express ourselves freely. Even if we don’t agree, we know we’re all doing the best we can. If we fail, if we fail, if we make mistakes, we are there to learn together.

The idea is also not to end up with the stick to be beaten. On the contrary, we will rather look at mistakes as so many opportunities to improve all together and this confidence will be there for that.

5 keys to building trust

Be a role model

As a leader, there is something that is essential, it is to become the model.

Show by his behavior, by his words. The two must be correlated. If you say to your team: “I trust you” but behind you point out certain behaviors, you create a decorrelation between what you say and what you do. And that’s not a role model.

Being a role model means doing what we say, so the teams will really see that we are aligned with our speech, in our actions. This is what will create a certain confidence. We are talking here about integrity, perhaps sometimes about vulnerability. We want to be congruent, aligned between what we say and what we do as the leader.

It’s super important because in fact, we are the example of the team. If we ourselves manage to lead by example, there is a good chance that the team will succeed in following it little by little. It is a process that can take time but it is really essential for the teams.

Trust in advance

The second key that I want to share with you is to start trusting a priori.

A priori trust is not necessarily easy, since trust is often built up over time. For example, when we seek to have confidence, if only in ourselves, we manage to create this self-confidence, by proving to ourselves that we can do things.

This is often why we take small steps, to be able to prove to ourselves that with each small step we have succeeded and we build this self-confidence little by little. There it is a bit the same thing, we will try to create moments where we will show ourselves that we are capable of creating confidence. And that’s not trust a priori, it’s more trust a posteriori, which comes to be created as and when.

A priori trust is saying to yourself “I decide to trust the other and see what happens”. So effectively, we are going to change our state of mind and we are going to say to ourselves by default “I am going to trust and I will see how it goes”.

If the person breaks the trust or doesn’t do what I expected, that’s when it’s time to have a dialogue with that person, to better explain the expectations, so that people also understand what we expect from them.

When you try to become a model, you don’t necessarily have confidence right away, but you don’t have time to create this confidence afterwards. So we can try to get this confidence a priori.

It still requires some work on yourself since you have to be able to let go of certain things that the team is going to do and you don’t necessarily have control over it.

Develop active listening

The third key is to create active listening.

We will try, to create trust, to create a safe space where people feel listened to and heard, and that requires active listening. We are really going to put ourselves in a listening posture where we are there to understand the other; and not to answer him.

A little exercise you can do is to listen to the person, what they have to say, and not respond right away. Count in your head three seconds before speaking and before asking another question, rather than trying to answer.

Try to understand what the person has in their head, what they are trying to express and try to dig a little bit with them. This active listening zone is there to allow the other to express themselves in complete safety.

We also try to remove all sorts of judgments from what we think of the other. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have judgment, that means that we won’t necessarily express them at that moment, since we want the other to be able to freely say what’s on their mind. .

A second little technique is to tell yourself that we are all doing the best we can and that we all have a different education, culture, experience. How I feel about a given situation may be completely different for someone else, and that’s ok. We all have completely different experiences. What is interesting here is to listen to the other, to understand what the other is going through, how he feels about things.

Recognize and accept mistakes

The fourth key is to recognize mistakes, especially when you want to be a role model for others.

Showing a little vulnerability and saying “here I failed”, “it’s not exactly how I wanted to do”, “I can see that I don’t have the results I expected “. And we will learn from this mistake. We will ask ourselves: what are the lessons that I want to learn? What lessons do I want to take away from this experience?

Here is the fourth key: to recognize its errors, to show a little vulnerability compared to the others.

Learning to know yourself

These four keys will all need one last key: knowing yourself well.

This is extremely important because knowing yourself well means that you are clear about your needs. We are clear on these values, we have a vision that is clear for ourselves, for the company in which we can work, for the product we are developing, and also on the objectives.

From the moment you are very clear about it, it’s much easier to identify your limits and to be able to communicate them to others.

These limits are essential in the context of trust, since they will make it possible to establish a framework in which this trust will be able to be built with others. Knowing yourself well, doing this work on yourself, for example, if I feel angry: what is the need that is not being met? Why do I feel angry? Being able to answer these questions will perhaps allow me to understand things, with the people with whom I have interacted, in a more concrete, more posed way.

We’re going to be less about affect and emotions than about facts and the possibility of improving all together. Knowing all these needs, all these values, will allow me to understand why I interact – as a leader – with others.

It makes it possible to build the framework and to say to the teams “be careful, in this case, we are out of scope. You have crossed a limit and the consequences, that’s it” or to anticipate a limit by saying “if you exceed this limit – for example if you are developing the product and you forget to notify that there is a problem, and I cannot suddenly reprioritize my backlog, the consequences are that it will go wrong in the sprint according to us, we are going to lose trust with our stakeholders, and that will greatly deteriorate the working environment in which we are”.

Understanding all this allows us – as a leader – to progress and move forward in creating this framework which is absolutely essential to build confidence for oneself, for the teams.

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