The firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone or something (Oxford English Dictionary)
Trust is really the basis of nearly everything we do – it’s what makes us a civilised society and sets us apart from the rest.
It’s because of trust that we are willing to hand over our hard-earned cash in exchange for products and services, or to promise ourselves in marriage to someone else, or to vote for someone who’ll reputedly represent our interests. We trust our laws and contracts in the justice system, not really knowing if justice will prevail but trusting in the institutions that uphold them – we have faith in those legal systems to represent us in making deals with strangers.
Trust is a therefore an essential currency.
Trust is only developed within relationships where real and totally genuine mutual value is present. It is also accretive – if it is invested wisely and prudently, it grows through continuous affirming experiences – however, when invested poorly, it rapidly depreciates in value…
It is also one of the most important forms of capital that modern-day business leaders have, particularly in the post-Covid-19 global climate.
Because trust is crucial to an organisations performance, and fundamental to good leadership. In organisations where there is high trust environments teams are far more effective – people tend to work harder, better and feel more positive about the work they are doing.
‘Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.’ Stephen Covey.
Traditionally the leadership narrative is all about the leader – your ability to make the tough decisions, your talents and charisma, your vision and strategy..
But today’s leadership isn’t about you – surely it’s about empowerment of others because of your leadership, and your impact as a leader – even if you aren’t present.
As a leader you may have compelling vision, air-tight strategy, amazing communication skills, innovative insight, and a super-skilled team, but, if people don’t trust you, you’ll never get the results you want.
Trust is about earning your stripes with your team – you can’t just command it along with your title.
But trust is a delicate thing – hard to create but, heck, really easy to destroy.
Due to these uncertain times, resilient leadership requires teamwork, possibly like never before, which must be nurtured and developed by building greater trust within the workplace.
There are some basic questions you can ask yourself about trust which have performance-based factors that can have a major impact on how you and your team deliver results, make decisions, and show up to the rest of the business.
- How much do I trust my team to follow through with jobs?
Put simply, trust is about the work that needs to be completed. There are going to be times when you have to trust that someone follows this through without anyone looking over their shoulder to ensure it’s done properly…. To encourage this more, you could – hold more one-to-one meetings; be fair when giving feedback – set some standards of expectations during the original one-to-ones and then be honest when giving feedback on jobs done; some team member may be uncomfortable approaching you with a problem – so perhaps you should approach them…
- How can I trust my team members’ good judgement?
Once important decisions are made, talk them through with your team. This will help them appreciate how, and why you made the decisions and will show them how to do this themselves in the future. Own up to any mistakes that are made and that failures will occasionally happen and that this is okay – it’s a great learning experience to thrive and survive. Of a team member makes a poor judgement call try and analyse why with them so you can both make better decisions in the future.
- How much do I trust team members to represent me and the organisation when I’m not present?
If you explain from the outset what your company’s priorities are, then you’re not setting up your team members to fail. You can do this by providing coaching and mentoring to those who are interested or show potential. The larger the team, the more confusing it can be as to who is responsible for what – so, be clear about who is the point-to person for important contacts.
- Do I trust my team to practice an appropriate level of discretion?
Sometimes so much information is shared, it’s difficult to ascertain what is confidential and what isn’t – so, ensure everyone is clear about what information should be kept private. So, educate your team to ensure they are all confident about what is and isn’t allowed to be shared. Set ground rules from the start and you’ll be building a culture of corporate trust. Suggest HR or yourself for further counselling in this area and make yourself an accessible resource, if needed.
- Do I trust my team to represent the psychological safety of others?
You need to ensure that any team member with a different viewpoint, isn’t going to feel threatened for voicing it. By allowing ‘freedom of speech’ creates a great tone of corporate trust. Have an absolute zero tolerance for bullying – address it immediately before this toxic behaviour spreads. By giving praise and encouragement to your team members will create a culture of appreciation which is essential to bring out individual strengths and contributions.
- How much do I trust my team members’ underlying intentions and motivations?
You need to discourage group huddles around the water machine and to encourage your team members that they are part of a collective. Everyone needs to be shown how important they are in the corporation’s cog. People aren’t always the issue – perhaps the whole team needs to be rewarded occasionally for working well together rather than just focussing always on the individual. Never reward poor behaviour.
By trusting your team, you not only empower others, but you can help the individuals within your team become stronger contributors, and in turn empower yourself as a leader.
‘I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay…’. Steve Jobs.
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