In order to have a healthy culture in your organization or business, you must believe the best about the others on your team. This is less about what you do and more about what you believe. It is less about strategy, and more about a discipline of your mind.
- When people attack your team (and they will), always believe the best.
- When you receive an anonymous accusation about someone, throw it away. Why? Because you choose to always believe the best.
- When you hear one side of the story and there is every reason to believe that your staff member's motives or intentions or actions were wrong…wait. Don't react. Get the rest of the story. Believe the best.
- When there are two opposing sides and it isn't clear what is true and what is false–always side with your team. Make the mental choice to believe the best in those who are standing by you and with you.
This isn't natural. It is easier to assume the worst. It's always easier to believe the gossip and fall prey to the slander. Sometimes it takes discipline and integrity to go against popular opinion. But your team will give their best, be at their best and perform their best when they believe you have their back.
Recently I received an email from a woman in the church who heard a rumor that “one of your pastors is having an affair with a woman in your church.” I contacted her immediately, asked several clarifying questions such as, “Which pastor is having the alleged affair?” She had very few details, but eventually gave me a first name. I responded with the following email:
“I trust you know that it's very serious when you level an accusation against a pastor. This was such a big deal, that I Timothy 5:19 says, 'Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.' So I'm greatly troubled that you would say such a thing that you've only heard through hearsay, and at first without even knowing the name of the person involved. Now you are saying the pastor's name is Carl.
“We do not have a pastor named Carl. In fact, we've never had any pastor or any youth staff with the name of Carl. With a church this size, I'm certain there are many 'Carls' in the congregation, but there is nothing I can do with this information without additional details, and additional people to corroborate your story. I am bound to I Timothy 5:19. And so I consider this matter closed.”
If you receive an accusation with first-hand information, you are obligated to dive deeper. But there is strength in believing the best in your team. If it’s a “he says, she says” story without corroborating evidence—I’m going to believe the best in my team every time.
I'm a pretty secure leader. But nothing takes the wind out of my sails more quickly than when I feel like my leader does not trust me. If I know he loves me, trusts me, and has my back–then I can be the best at what God has wired me to do. That is true of most of us. Your team deserves your trust.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't deal with incompetence, bad attitudes, misaligned leaders or the sinful choices of others. It also doesn't mean you should keep your head in the sand and not notice or deal with the obvious signs of trouble in the ranks. But those will be isolated situations. With most of your team most of the time, they need your undying loyalty and trust.
Whether they are below you, above you or next to you in position, your team will soar if they know you have their back.
This is adapted from my next book on leadership--to be published by Thomas Nelson in July 2014.