If you ask Germans which professions they trust the most, a GfK study shows that firefighters are number 1. This is closely followed by other helping professions, especially in the health sector. Especially in situations where we feel helpless or left alone, we depend on trusting others. We need care, advice, encouragement from other people.
But what leads us to accept the offer of the one who is facing us at such a moment? That we not only understand the situation, but even do what he suggests? In extreme cases: Why, when we stand on a balcony at an airy height, do we jump into a spread-out safety blanket as soon as a firefighter gives us the signal?
This is precisely the question that this article is intended to address. I would like to try to find out what we can learn from this“Should I jump or not?“ situation and apply it to entrepreneurial change processes. What motivates us to give up the seemingly safe position (at least at this moment) in order to drop into unknown territory?
In the word „trust“ is the word „to trust“, in the sense of: to dare, to dare something. My thesis: Without trust, no risk can succeed. So let us put ourselves in the position of the person on the balcony, for the sake of simplicity we call him Tom.
Do we really have to do this now?
No question about it: It burns. That’s what the people down there are calling. And you can feel that. It’s getting warmer, smoke coming out of the windows. Tom is desperate: He can’t help it. It is not his fault that the situation is as it is and he would prefer to close his eyes to it.
Learning 1: Tom will only jump if he is really sure that there is a fire. To convince people to do something, we have to help them to understand and correctly assess the respective situation. If we succeed in this in an honest and comprehensible way, an important foundation for trust is laid.
Do they even know what they’re doing?
Tom thinks,“That little safety blanket down there, is that really supposed to save my life? Wouldn’t a ladder be much more appropriate? Maybe he should try to reach the stairs after all?
Learning 2: We must confidently demonstrate our competence and give guidance. Tom will only be able to make a decision if he realizes that this – and no other – is the best. We find a good solution in a team – because we are appropriately equipped, prepared and trained. We’ll do everything we can to make sure nothing bad happens.
What if I make a mistake?
Maybe he’ll miss, Tom fears. And maybe it’s his fault after all? The candle on the nightstand, he may have forgotten to put it out. He’s sure this isn’t going to end well.
Learning 3: If we want to“take people with us“, we also have to place our trust in them. This is not possible without appreciation. It’s not about personal gain, it’s about the best for everyone. No matter what has led to this situation – it is now a matter of pooling all available forces. To change and improve the situation together. To save lives.
Why this mental excursion into an admittedly very extreme situation? Well, let me make it clear: We will always be exposed to change, though not always of such a threatening nature. There is probably no industry that is excluded from the current transformation process. Even if digitization, despite its disruptive effects, should not per se be called fire (it simply brings too much new and good): the energy level emanating from it is enormous. And it is precisely with this that we must learn to deal with – especially when it is a matter of abandoning previous security.
One thing is particularly important in this context: feeling secure does not mean trusting that nothing will change – but rather that everything will go well despite (or precisely because of) the change.
This cannot be internalized by itself. Doubts, troubleshooting and adherence to the past are generally in human nature. This can be overcome through positive experiences (it rarely happens that someone jumps beside a safety blanket), but also through encouragement of others, who – independent of hierarchies – convey credibly: We face the challenges together and also allow doubts and mistakes in order to learn from them. Only those who have trust can gain the trust of others.
The common goal in view is to constantly optimize the framework conditions – i.e. to create the organizational, technical and financial prerequisites for not only dealing with the unforeseen, but also actively shaping the future. In short: When a culture of trust and a framework that inspires trust come together, an environment is created that makes the only right thing possible: jumping.
By: Constanze Zeller / zukunftsgerichtete.de