If you are looking for a different, powerful approach to leadership which could transform your organisation check out this article by our colleague Wendy Lambourne. Based on extensive research, originally focussed on management in South African gold mines the Schuitema Care and Growth model with its emphasis on trust has lessons for everyone who aspires to lead.
We are very fortunate at Greenbank to have the opportunity to meet with some inspirational leaders and we were delighted when we recently had the opportunity to meet with Wendy Lambourne and talk together about the Care and Growth model of leadership or as Wendy and her colleagues at Schuitema call it; Legitimate Leadership.
Here Wendy shares her introduction to Legitimate Leadership – we hope you find what she has to say as fresh and inspirational as we do.
In the late 1980s, when labour and civil strife was at a height in South Africa and a race war seemed imminent, a research project to measure the trust levels of workers in management on some South African gold mines produced unexpected results.
Contrary to expectations, trust of the black mineworkers in management (which was almost universally white) was not consistently low.
Rather, the degree to which managers were seen to be trustworthy or not varied immensely – not only from mine to mine but even from one shaft to another on the same mine.
Initially, the researchers were unable to find a relationship between trust and a number of factors. The research indicated no correlation between trust and overarching factors like politics or race. Neither did it indicate any correlation with physical conditions (in the hostel and underground), labour mix, rates of pay, trade union activity and presence or lack thereof of a human resources function.
An explanation for the findings was at last found, in response to a new question, namely: “Have relations with management changed (improved/deteriorated) over the last two years and, if so, why?”
If management-employee relations had improved or worsened it could only have been because management had either attended or not attended to employee concerns or problems.
Due regard for employee grievances turned out to be the single criterion which was consistently applied by mine employees to assess their relationships with management. In other words managers, individually and hence collectively, were accepted or rejected on the strength of their perceived interest in the wellbeing of their employees.
Trust, the researchers concluded, was either granted or withheld on this basis only. Stated another way, the leadership of a mine was seen to be legitimate and worthy or not of support on this basis only.
So, whether management was trusted was ultimately a function of the intent of the immediate supervisor, at any level in the hierarchy, regarding the people who reported to him/her directly.
Our organisational development consultancy has, over the past 20 years, extrapolated these results. Consistently, working in diverse organisations across the world during that period, our experience has confirmed the findings from the original research in the gold mines.
In a retail bank, for example, we found trust levels in one branch to be dramatically different from a branch around the corner. Similarly, in a hospital we saw variations in trust from ward to ward, purely as a function of the ward sister’s relationship with her nursing staff.
We have concluded that in any group there will always be two populations: one which is anti- and another which is pro-management. But the size of the positive group, and hence the degree to which there is overall trust in management, will be directly determined by the perceived intent of the leader(s) of the group.
Intent is about whose interests in the relationship are believed to be being served. When managers are perceived to be pursuing their own interests – to only be in the relationship to get something out of their people – their people’s trust in them will be low.
Only when managers are there to give to or serve their people, will their staff be willing to give to them – because they trust that management has their best interests at heart.
What those in authority have to give to their people – what earns them trust – is not money however. Across the world, we have found that what management needs to give distils down to only two drops of essence.
Firstly, managers have to have a genuine concern for those in their charge. They have to care for their people as human beings; not as human resources which help their bottom line to grow. Care is what one human being does for another. It is not something that managers can conveniently delegate to the company’s human resources system and practices.
Secondly, they have to enable their people to realise the very best in themselves. This rarely happens by being “nice” to one’s people because no one this side of the grave is perfect. “Growing” people has a hard edge to it. It means giving people the means and ability to contribute and then holding them accountable both positively and negatively for what they have given.
The price to be paid before employees will be truly willing to deliver on command is thus not money; it is care and growth. Tough love legitimates the power which is exercised by those in authority. When this price of power is not paid, people become resistant, no matter how much they are paid in money.
Managers can only really earn trust in one of two ways. They can do so firstly by passing the intent test. This is not a once-off test but rather one that individual managers undergo every day of their lives. Trust is gained or lost by them each time they sit the intent test. In other words, the effect of how they do on the intent test is, cumulative over time.
Secondly managers earn trust through a process of entrustment of their subordinates. With each incremental step of entrustment there is greater trust in, and increased trustworthiness, in the relationship between manager and subordinate.
Managers take the intent test whenever they are faced with a choice between their needs or their values. Values are what managers are prepared to put their self-interest or needs second for.
The value which is operative in any command situation determines whether managers are giving or taking in that situation.
To say that trust is the new workplace currency is not correct. In fact, it always has been the workplace and leadership currency.
Wendy Lambourne is a consultant at Schuitema/Legitimate Leadership. firstname.lastname@example.org
Her book, Legitimate Leadership, is at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BA1UK26