In Great Walls and Great Leadership, Trust is Essential

Jiayuguan is the first pass – or gated structure – at the west end of the Great Wall of China. The fortified building was built during the Ming dynasty around the year 1372 by an architect named Yi Kaizhan. According to legend, during the planning process Yi Kaizhan was asked to provide the exact number of bricks that would be needed to complete the structure, to which he replied 99,999. An official on the project questioned Yi Kaizhan’s judgment, so he added one more brick to the estimate. Once the structure was finished, only one brick remained.

A foundation of trust.
The best leaders know strong working relationships with the people they lead are built on trust. Not only do employees need to be able to trust their leaders to make the best decisions for the company, leaders need to be able to trust the skills and abilities of their employees. And sometimes the most effective way to test that relationship is to simply take a step back.

When given the benefit of the doubt, people will often surprise you. Don’t be afraid to take a hands-off approach to managing your team. If you’ve laid a strong foundation of trust, your employees know what is expected of them and that their hard work won’t go unnoticed. And most importantly, they will want to surprise you.

So, what happened to the brick?
Jiayuguan is still mostly intact and is one of only a handful of similar buildings that remain along the Great Wall.  When the structure was completed, the extra brick was placed loose on a ledge above one of the gates, where it remains to this day.

How do you show your employees you have complete trust in their skills and abilities? Let us know in the comments section below.

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