My initial blogs have dealt largely with matters of greater concern to individual entrepreneurs than to small companies. Today, I am revising that a bit as I will address executive leadership within small but growing companies. Every such company no matter how small must have people on staff in whom it has confidence and who will be able to move up in responsibility as growth continues: new and future leaders need to be identified and recognized.
The characteristics that mark a truly good leader: integrity, vision, energy, commitment and many more, are widely agreed upon. But the one which has to come first is trustworthiness. It sometimes requires a long exposure to a colleague or subordinate in order to confirm that he or she is truly trustworthy. But, if a young executive wants to be considered for senior advancement, the C-Suite members must be convinced that he or she possesses this attribute to the nth degree and must also be sure that the candidate for promotion is trusted by his and her colleagues.
Well, how can one tell for sure? How does one earn this trust? Obviously, it requires maintaining confidentiality as appropriate and treating colleagues with respect and confidence. Further, one has to display the attributes referred to above: integrity et al. But it also requires being open with fellow staffers and to risk being vulnerable and willing to admit one doesn’t know the answers when that is the case. The upcoming leader must also be willing to answer questions fully and to share examples from his or her own past which fit the circumstances, thereby revealing the candidate’s humanity. This ability – to show one’s humanity and be open to a colleague’s concerns by revealing something of one’s self in his or her responses – will resonate and earn the trust needed to move ahead and be given further leadership responsibilities.