Foster Key Relationships to Build Trust

Every IT Leader has experienced a moment when you want to crawl under a rock and just hide because something went soooo wrong.  If you haven’t yet, you will.  One of my most memorable ones happened early in my career when my team made a mistake that was just simply that embarrassing and one that we had repeatedly promised our business partners would not occur.  We worked overnight to correct the issue and get the business back on track.  

The next day I literally wore a cardboard box over my head into the office. I walked into my key business partner’s office and apologized while wearing the box. I walked around to my team members to be sure they saw how I felt.  

I would love to say that I thought this through carefully at the time and calculated this move to have a specific impact, but the truth is that I didn’t. I was just reacting to the situation and trying to show my business partners and my team how I felt.  As I reflect on it now, I can look back objectively and see what messages it sent to my business partners: humility, transparency, accountability, genuineness. And in that moment, I believe I gained the trust of my business partner more than ever.  I’m sure some in my team just thought I was crazy.

I kept that box in my office for a long time as a reminder to myself and my team. We even talked in terms of how to avoid any future “box offense.”  Thankfully as we continued to work together with the business, one day that same business partner came and took the box and said he was sure it would no longer be needed.  They even took a picture with the entire team to commemorate the moment.

If you want to foster key relationships and to be an IT Leader who is a trusted partner, be humble, transparent, accountable, and genuine.

Do you have “box moment” or similar experience that ultimately improved your business relationships?