Each year, I take a few hours to reflect on the elements of my work at Rival IQ for which I’m most thankful.
Last year, I wrote about how trust unlocks deep collaboration and flexibility. Previously, I’ve written about our sprint retrospective and how it creates a regular opportunity for openly sharing feelings of gratitude.
Looking back at these past reflections, trust is the common element that enables the things for which I’m most thankful: the collaboration, the flexibility, and the open sharing of feedback and gratitude.
But how is the trust created in our team? My answer won’t be surprising to you because our mutual trust is built in the same way that all human trust is.
By being vulnerable. By being transparent. By owning our mistakes.
In opening ourselves up in these ways, we remind ourselves that we’re works in progress, and we demonstrate to our colleagues that personal growth is a priority.
This year, as I reflect on the 12 months since last Thanksgiving, I can think of numerous examples of my teammates exhibiting vulnerability. In each case, I can see how that vulnerability created personal growth and a positive outcome for our company.
And, these acts of openness that come to mind aren’t grand gestures. Rather, they’re simple expressions of a willingness to invest in self improvement.
“I want to get better at…can you give me feedback on…?”
“I don’t feel like that went well. Can you help me think through it?”
“I’m not sure what to do in this situation. Can you help me think through what to do?”
“I’m sorry I’m not getting this as quickly as I’d like. Can you spend more time teaching me?”
As a leader, there’s no set of questions I love hearing more than those. They let me know that I’ve done a good job of creating trust in my relationships with the people around me. So much of what I love about Rival IQ centers around the honest collaboration and flexible, fluid way in which we work.
For this positive environment to continue, it requires ongoing investments in our mutual trust. Part of my role as a founder and a leader is helping to create an environment in which everyone feels comfortable being open.
There are many facets of that trust-building, such as equity and inclusion, whose scope extends beyond this post. (Please note: I’m not declaring that we have succeeded in creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable being open. As the white, male founder, that wouldn’t be a valid declaration from coming from me.)
One way in which I’m consistently working to create trust is by being open and vulnerable myself. As someone who spent too many years in graduate school, I’m aware of how much I don’t know. Fortunately, I’m also most interested in putting myself in situations where the potential to learn is high. These two things, when put together, make it both easy and common for me to say: “I don’t know. Let’s figure it out together.”
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful to be in an environment where we, as colleagues, can be open and vulnerable with one another. I see the positive collaborations and personal growth that results for me and others, and it’s one of the reasons I love coming to work every single day.
Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you.