The title of this post is not new, is something that is bouncing in my head from some weeks ago. I remember that I read an article about that (“Do your people trust you?“) and what I clearly remember is the most important question that every manager should ask themselves: “Are you trustable?” The answer could seem easy or maybe silly, but probably could be not so easy if made like this: “Do your employees define you as a trustable person?” The answer probably in this case is not so easy and could sound like “I don’t know” or even worst “I don’t care”.
But let’s start from the beginning. What do I mean when I say trust? Well, trust for me is a very deep and important form of relationship. Trust means that you “believe” in someone else’s words, in its motivations and that despite a possible disagreement his words have a great value and impact on your behavior (in the positive sense). When you trust someone you are going to do things that you normally don’t do by yourself. That you are going to consider way of thinkings, aspect of your life and so on in a different way, only because you trust him! When you trust someone is because you believe that he owns your respect. Been trustable for me it means that I put something of myself, thoughts, expectations, williness, energy, professionalism, in your hands because I think that this is an investment. And this investment is paying back for the “trust” that I have invested on you. So “trust” is kind of investment, probably the most important and risky investment that we have at our disposal.
Coming back to the first question “Do your employees define you as a trustable person?” Because if the answer is not, then how could you pretend they believe in you and that they do what has been told them to do? And if the answer is “I don’t know” then I think you have to hurry up and start to “know”. It is not something that you could analyze later. It is absolutely fundamental for yourself, for your career and for the relationship with the others. Sometimes we are too much focused in our own improvement that we do not realize that the key point of our improvement is the relationships that we have with our colleagues, with our employees, with our customers.
If you want to have the maximum from the people working for you, you have to give them the maximum of yourself. And that maximum is to be trustable! Is something that you have to be, despite the difficulties, despite the changed situations, despite any kind of challenge that you are facing or obstacles to overcome. Been trustable is the most important investment that you could make in your life.
A friend of mine some days ago asked me: “Why logaritms are important?” My answer was that they are the basics for describing all the exponential relations like in the RF communications and in the sound pressure that are generally expressed in dB (decibell), but this was just the first thing that comes to my mind. So then my friend asked me something about literature and so on. Eventually the real question came in: “why is it so important to study?” and I add something more that a lot of people says often to me: “Don’t tell me that this subject that we have studied have been useful for you in your professional carrer or in your life…”
My answer, always, is that not only has been useful but I would have needed even more knowledge on that subject. The truth is that in my professional life I have used all the things that I have studied; starting from the most important and most used things till the last insignificant things that first or later you realize has an importance too.
The thing that makes some people excel in life is the real ability to connect things together. And in order to do it you need to pick up things from different subjects, from different competences, from different points of view and so on.
When I thing about myself I realize that also the most silly things, which at the time I believed they weren’t so important, if you make the right connections could help you to add a small piece of knowledge to the analysis of the problem. And the more small pieces you put together the more you could make the difference.
Working as an engineer also the Italian literature of the enlighment period has been useful. Sometimes just to share some common thoughts with customers or colleagues.
Of course it is clear that some things are fundamental and some others are (I do not say less important) less correlated with what is your professional life, but you will never know what will be your future carrer or where your passions could drive you for the rest of your life.
So the message is, don’t underevaluate what you studied but cultivate all your passions and be proud of all the time you spent improving yourself because this is what makes you unique and valuable for the others.
Why some managers are so effective. And what are the best managers? The ones reaching the best results? And what is the best strategy to reach that results?
These were some of the questions that were running in my mind when I decided to accept the new job as an engineering manager. To my eyes, and by the examples that I had so far, the only important thing was the final result! And to achieve that “the others” are just an instrument to reach that goal and sometimes also a threat to that. Basically what the people around me was doing was only to squeeze people like lemons creating a lot of expectations but basically not caring at all about me and my colleagues. ‘If I believe you are useful for me then I show (just show…) some interest on you, if not then I’ll try to get rid of you!’
Do I want to be like this? Of course not! It’s not me, I can’t be like that! But the new job position was very challenging and also was something that I was looking for…
I accepted the job, but still I didn’t felt well, I was plenty of doubts…
So I started to read “If Harry Potter ran General Electric”. This book has opened for me a new world. It showed me trough a simple model (Harry Potter books) that the best leaders, the best people, the most successful people in the world have solid values, strong believes and an absolutely and incredible respect for the others.
I remember that I was in Paris airport and I read the following sentence (a quotation of Sirius Black): “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
Is it so simple? YES IT IS. It opened my mind. I started thinking about how many people I know that acts like this. I realized immediately what was really making the difference between what I consider the outstanding people and the others. And it is just that simple. If you care about the others before than yourself, if you believe that everybody is important, that there is so much in everybody around yourself that you must respect every single human being.
So I decided to start my new adventure with this thing clearly painted in my mind!
Sometimes it is not easy, sometimes you have to be tough and sometimes people don’t understands you. But if you really care about others, then you will understand which is the best approach.
One thing that I do that really helps me in practice is the following: “never ask someone to do something that I don’t want to do”. Then there are roles and responsibilities. “If I was you and someone is going to ask me to do that, then I will do it, and so you have to do it too!”
A colleague of mine told me: “it is easier to run an entire plant by yourself than managing a single person.” And it is absolutely true. But when I go back home and I look in to my son’s eyes I feel in peace with myself. And this is what really matters!