February 10, 2021

Time = Trust

The first step to building trust? Start on time.

I attend and facilitate a lot of business meetings. In my range of clients, there are different behaviors and habits around time in meetings. It’s the start of a new year, so I’m seeing a few new companies and watching how they treat time conceptually. It is all over the map.

Years ago, my co-founder Leah Pearlman and I were leading a Conscious Leadership Camp, and we both observed after the first day that there seemed to be less authentic sharing happening in the cohort. We looked at everything we were doing -- curriculum, energy level, movement, our own reveals -- and it felt pretty similar to other Camps. Then Leah said “you know, we are usually impeccable about start and end times, and we’ve been slippery about it this Camp.” This seemed like a rounding error, but we both imagined it was the determining factor.

Why would looseness around time compromise authenticity in a group meeting? Because, in my view, keeping clean agreements around time nurtures a “tight container” and engenders trust. Perhaps it’s better said this way: failing to meet agreements around time undermines trust in the leaders’ statements around time, and that can broaden to a lack of trust in general. If you want to create authentic meetings, you need a place where your attendees feel that explicit or implicit agreements are honored. All of them.

So when I argue for (a) clean agreements around time and (b) honoring those agreements around time, I’m not being a schoolmarm. I’m honoring a wish for greater authenticity, more connection, and a chance for people to fully show up and be present at meetings.

Sue Heilbronner

Sue Heilbronner is an executive coach, Conscious Leadership facilitator, and catalyst for change.

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