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Trust People by Giving Them the Toughest Assignments
Leaders don’t hand the big problems to people they lack faith in or who are missing the skills to tackle them.
Giving people meaty and important assignments is a sign of trust. The best leaders know this and look for opportunities to tell team members they are both ready for an important challenge and they have the utmost confidence and trust in their ability to succeed.
Offering a prized assignment to a colleague who is unprepared for it is cruel. Knowing others will likely fail is no way to inspire confidence. But too many leaders believe giving the hardest assignments to a team member is a punishment. Just the opposite is true. When a team member is ready for the challenge, nothing is more motivating or inspiring.
Knowing the leader trusts them with a key project propels them forward and establishes the confidence needed for great work. The fact that this is a tough and challenging assignment burnishes the trust they feel.
Big and challenging problems are a huge reward. Leaders who wait too long for a team member to have the slam-dunk skills for an assignment miss an important opportunity. The moment a team member is ready for a big assignment, good leaders pounce. They often announce to colleagues they believe the team member is ready and make the handoff publicly. This tells everyone that trust is the currency that underpins the choice.
Delegating a difficult problem doesn’t mean leaders just walk away and watch from the sidelines. In fact, good leaders stack the deck and make sure the assignment will succeed in some measure by serving as a resource and checking in with whatever help the team member needs.
Building trust is never easy. Using the hardest problems and projects to do so seems somewhat counterintuitive — until a leader understands the power of projecting confidence in others.