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I Don't Have Time!

The No. 1 excuse I hear from managers about why they don’t do the things they know they need to do to be more effective leaders is "I don’t have time." A team leader at a university I worked with is a typical example, saying, "I’m too busy to apply what we are learning with my team!" But leaders who are too busy to build trust and expect employees to be responsible for their performance are, in effect, saying that they have the time to destroy trust instead.

Yes, it does take time to build trust, but you can destroy it in 30 seconds with an inappropriate comment. Building trust is all about the quality of the conversations you have every day. In every conversation you have with a team member or co-worker—or family member for that matter—you have the choice about whether you will be straightforward with them, or you will hold back on saying what you really think. You have a choice about whether you will treat them with respect, or attempt to demonstrate you are better than them in some way. You have a choice as to whether you will really listen to what they have to say and what is important to them, or you can be focused on what you want to say next.

Building trust does not take any more time than the conversations you are already having. It does take some discipline to think about your conversations before you have them, but isn’t it worth the effort to ensure that your conversations are building trust, rather than unintentionally destroying it?

Keith Ayers


Integro Leadership Institute

Sydney, Australia

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