Anytime there is a relationship, there is also trust.
Quite often, trust then becomes a way to evaluate the relationship. It’s a misunderstanding of what trust is there for.
No relationship whatsoever deserves blind trust. Such a relationship would be based on dependency. It would use an assumption that other does everything right or that one doesn’t want to have a say whenever they change their mind.
The other extreme is micro-management and controlling everything. That is a relationship that lacks trust and the ability to delegate.
In the case of blind trust, there is no data available allowing to see what is happening. When over-controlling on the other hand all the details are made available, there is no aggregation of data.
That is where the process of accountability and controlling step in.
Accountability is a process through which two parties may decide on a common goal. To do so they’ll share a goal. The goal will be described in a detailed fashion allowing both partners to gain a view of how the result will look like. To allow for as much clarity as possible they’ll work out details like who, what, when, what for, and why. The clarification will ease a common understanding of the task. It will give an idea of what is to be expected. And it contributes to establishing the commitment to do the work.
Controlling on the other hand is a process that serves the achievement of the task from a different angle. It is based on collecting data that is related to the existing objectives. The data collected will serve the purpose to compare the view of the planned evolution with the existing evolution. At the same time, it provides the data with which the next evolution may be planned. Where knowing the difference between what had been planned and what happened allows learning how efficient planning has been.
That’s how it works when there is a willingness to assume that everyone contributed with their best effort to the result.
Things fall apart when the collected data is used to micro-manage accountability. And things also fall apart, when accountability is based on broad statements missing a common understanding of what is to be achieved.
Accountability and control are foundations of trust. They allow to develop and nurture trust. And they create the safety net that allows for tolerance whenever things don’t happen as expected.
It will not work if trust is expected or denied. It requires that all those involved are willing to build trust and understand that it is a continuous effort.
PS. If you want to learn more about how effective leaders hold others accountable and improve motivation, you may want to participate in the webinar my friend Andy is proposing on April 22nd.