Blaise Pascal, back in the early 1600’s, said, “I give you the gift of these four words – I believe in you.”
Sam Phillips, back in 1954, told Johnny Cash something eerily similar when giving him feedback on his song. He looked young Mr. Cash in the eye and said, “I don’t believe you.”
Today, I reminded a dear friend and client that “anding” these thoughts is the job of every leader. You’ve got to let all your teammates know that you believe in them and you’ve got to be honest with those you don’t believe. For instance, your high performers need to hear, “I believe in you and I believe you.” They need to know the depth of your belief and cannot hear this too much. Give this gift.
And, do not shy away from telling the truth to that teammate you still believe in but no longer believe. This is where the transformational leader shines. I believe in you and I don’t believe you, tells a teammate some hard truth they can use. Most leaders, when they stop believing, make the mistake of keeping it to themselves. They don’t open their mouth and deliver tough truth. Hence one of my favorite catch phrases – “When the leader stops believing, someone will soon be-leaving.” The transformational leader gives the gift of belief and she also gives the gift of “I don’t believe you.” This leader turns people and their performance with this powerful combo. Most leaders just turn away and let nature slowly lead someone to leave.
I believe in you and I don’t believe you. Powerful words. Give these gifts early and often, leader. Stop holding back, biting your tongue, and hoping somehow they’ll figure it out on their own. Leaders are believers, remember. Leaders are connectors too. Go do your job, leader. Give the gift of belief. Give the gift of I don’t believe you – I don’t believe you are doing the work. I don’t believe your heart is in your work. I don’t believe you want to be here. I don’t believe you’re singing your song. I don’t believe you are finishing as strongly as you’re starting. I don’t believe you’re leaving it all on the court or I don’t believe you’re going full thrust. I don’t believe, but I still believe in you.
What gifts does each one of your teammates need to receive from you, leader?