If you’re a consultant, flying comes with the territory. You get to experience different cities, perhaps international cultures, and certainly a lot of waiting around. There’s a saying that if you have never missed a flight, you are spending too much time in the airport. I understand the point, and I’m good being a little early and getting on my flight.
Recently, my flight to Dallas was delayed. The pilot announced that mechanics needed to “check a small oil leak.” He also explained the process, stating they would fire up the engines after the mechanics had a chance to inspect. Within 20 minutes, the pilot started the engines. He announced that they would “chalk up the problem to some extra oil from the last maintenance.”
What do you do? Do you get off the plane because any oil makes you nervous? Not me! I’m a seasoned traveler. Other than a lightning strike one time on my way to New Orleans, I am pretty confident in flying. Oh, and then there was the bad turbulence coming back from Baltimore as I watched the wings flap up and down like they were real bird wings, wondering how many more times until they crack off the plane. I seemingly never fail to remember that I’m in an aluminum tube at 32,000 feet. I briefly close my eyes, take a deep breath, think about fate, and go back to my book.
Why choose to trust the pilot?
I’ve placed my trust in the pilot, the expert. He or she trained for countless hours, has flown even longer, and can handle any emergency. (Remember Sully?)
Why do we trust experts?
That person focuses on a particular area. Experts provide opinions based upon research, experiences, or how their clients behave or execute their strategies. We assume they have seen similar situations, which leads to….
What about trust and verify?
An expert provides her opinion and the data supporting that opinion. She shows where the data originated, if there are any potential gaps, or other interpretations of the data. You must then verify or validate the data in terms of its relevance to your company and whether or not the expert’s recommendations will help you achieve your strategic goals, consistent with the vision of your company.
An effective expert collaborates with you from the beginning by asking questions and understanding your unique situation. You need to feel confident that the expert has your best interests in mind. If the expert is lecturing you about your horrible practices or is in the midst of a 15 minute soliloquy, then I argue that is not the right expert for you.
Tom Petty sings – “I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing“. When you need help, or when you are starting out, don’t be afraid to seek out experts. Not only will they help you take off, but also, more importantly, create an environment necessary for a soft landing.
Photo by Tracy Hunter used under Creative Commons License
I’m flying more as a result of several leadership and communication training sessions I lead. The classes, developed by Manager Mechanics, teach IT staff how to bridge the gap with their businesses (the ‘users’) and build their trust through client service skills, influence, persuasion, and other soft skills.
How well does the communication flow between IT and the businesses it supports? Contact me if you are interested in improving the trust in and credibility of your IT teams.
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