Trust is one of those concepts that you don’t even think about when you have it, but when it’s compromised, you pay a lot of attention to it! In our coalition work, there can be trust issues within the coalition overall or there can be trust issues between specific members of the coalition that impact the ability to work together. While you cannot control other people and what they say or do (yes, I know this may come as a shock…:), as a coalition leader, you do have influence on trust. Join me this week as I highlight four things that will lead to loss of trust in your coalition.
One of the easiest ways to lose trust in coalition work is to “under communicate”. If there has been a long time in between meetings and only a few people know what is happening, the risk of “under communicating” is high. Also, if someone asks you a question that you cannot quickly answer, and you wait to respond until you have the answer or have time to get through all your emails, you risk losing trust. Although you don’t want to overwhelm folks with constant communication, you do want to keep them updated on what is most important to them. If you have made commitments to your coalition and you are unable to follow-through or something has changed, let them know. Lack of communication = Loss of trust.
Avoiding difficult conversations
If a situation occurs that may be confusing or controversial, the best way to lose trust is to avoid talking about it. Even though it may be initially uncomfortable, providing a safe forum for your members to discuss, ask questions, disagree agreeably and hear the complete story will support trust and future engagement. Difficult conversations do not always have to be difficult. One of the best ways to encourage trust in a difficult conversation is to acknowledge that there may be different perspectives and that you want to provide an opportunity for questions and open discussion.
Letting the loudest voice win
In every coalition, you want passionate champions who can provide leadership, inspiration and energy to accomplish the collective goals and objectives. Sometimes, these passionate champions can be very loud and insistent on their way. When “their way” diminishes other coalition members or is not aligned with the coalition’s collective perspective, this can be problematic and lead to trust issues. As a coalition leader, you are responsible for setting clear expectations and boundaries with all your members on what is ok and what is not ok. When you let the loudest voice win, the rest of the coalition may not feel like their voice is valued. Alternatively, when you acknowledge the “loudest voice” and provide opportunities for other “voices” to be heard, you build trust.
Supporting specific organizational agendas
In order to attract organizations to be part of a coalition, there need to be clear benefits for each organization to participate. However, If specific organizations are allowed to promote their agenda over the coalition’s collective agenda, trust will be lost. Based on coalition priorities, specific organizations will naturally provide leadership for specific areas; however, there need to be opportunities for other individuals and organizations to actively participate and engage in the collective efforts in order to maintain trust.
So what about you? Which of these four areas need to be addressed in your coalition right now?