Servant Leadership…How to Build Trust in The Midst of Turmoil
AUTHORED BY Ron hill, Vice president, sales @ GUIDEIT
It was a sunny winter day and I had just started as the Client Executive at one of the largest accounts in the company. Little did I know, clouds were about to roll in. The CIO walked into my office and sat down with a big sigh. She communicated that they were ending our agreement and moving to a different service provider. We had 12 months. It required immediate action by our company, implications in the market would ensue, and an environment of uncertainty was born for our team of more than 700 people providing service support.
This was no time to defend or accept defeat. We had to act. Our account leadership team readied the organization for the work ahead and imminent loss. We formally announced the situation to the organization. There were tears and some were even distraught. Our leadership team had not faced this situation before. The next 12 months looked daunting.
Regardless, it was time to lead. We created a “save” strategy and stepped into action beginning with daily team meetings. We invested time prioritizing and sharing action items and implications about information systems, project management, and the business process services. It was our job to operate with excellence, despite the past. It was our job to honorably communicate knowledge to the incoming service provider. One of the outcomes of our work was a weekly email outlining past week accomplishments and expectations for the next week. The email often included a blend of personal stories and team success. We even came up with a catchy brand for the email…Truth of the Matter. It turned out to be a key vehicle that kept our teams bonded and informed. Our leadership team used it as a vehicle to help maintain trust with the team.
During our work, we also began to rebuild trust with the customer as we continued to support them in all phases of their operation. Because of our leadership team’s commitment to service, transparency, and integrity, the delivery team was inspired in achieving many great milestones during those 12 months. We were instrumental in helping our customer achieve multiple business awards including a US News and World Report top ranking. We also found ways to achieve goals that established new trends in their industry. Before we knew it, the year had come and gone and we were still there.
Reflecting back, since that dark day when the CIO informed me that we were done, it was actually the beginning of more than a decade-long relationship. The team had accomplished an improbable feat. In the end, it was the focus of our leadership to come together with a single message and act with transparency…letting their guard down to build an environment of trust with the team and with the customer. This enabled all of us to focus on meeting the goals of the customer, together.