Trusted agents are like-minded players – peers and bosses – who have common values and shared goals. You trust them with your ideas and hopes – and they don’t use either against you. Trusted agents act in service to each other, all the time, every time. Having trusted agents can make or break many situations in an organization!
As a personal example, there was a time when I’d just finished a four-day program in China for a long-time culture client. The work with the Asia region leadership team couldn’t have gone better. I was packing for the next day’s flights back to the US and called my wife, Diane, and found she had experienced a gallstone attack. She was at risk of going into septic shock. And I wasn’t there to help her.
Diane’s adult kids – my step-children – live close by us. They – and their spouses were totally on top of things: checking her into the hospital, coordinating with the nurses and doctors, communicating with me about the details of the plan, and staying with Diane through much of her hospital stay. The procedures that followed went well and we all visited with her in recovery.
Our kids acted as “trusted agents” for Diane in my absence. They didn’t miss a beat. Immediately, they coordinated with Diane, me, the hospital staff, and many more players, seamlessly. They were active participants in discussions and decisions. They were dedicated to Diane’s care and acted as a unified team with “one mind, one heart, and one voice.”
They had my back – and Diane’s.
I learned about trusted agents from a fine man and good friend, retired US Marine Raphael Hernandez. The US Marine Corps is one of the most values-aligned, high-performance organizations on the planet. Their operating teams are crisis response expeditionary forces focused on specific threats and tasks around the globe. Marine Corps members align with this important, great purpose.
While deployed in Iraq in 2004, Raphael worked with one of his best Marine commanders. Raphael was the director of operations, responsible for transporting 2500 Marines to Kuwait and then to bases throughout Iraq. Raphael’s boss trusted him completely. Raphael shared ideas, concerns, plans, and questions with no fear whatsoever – and with no negative repercussions from his boss.
Improvised explosive devices (IED’s) throughout the country caused the team to fly most Marines to their bases for their safety. Approximately 100 Marines were transported via convoy to escort heavy equipment that could not be flown in Marine C-130 fixed-wing aircraft. Raphael’s commander could have taken the safer route by flying. Instead, he chose to ride in the convoy with his Marines, along with Raphael, facing IEDs all along their route.
They arrived safely, because of the commander’s choice to put himself in harm’s way, and trust in him and his decisions skyrocketed.
Convoys may not be part of your daily operations like they are with US Marines. You can, however, act as a trusted agent – serving others, supporting others, valuing their ideas, efforts, and accomplishments, at work, at home, and in your community, every day.