The Everlasting Essential for Leadership – TRUST

Leadership for me is like a recipe for a fabulous dish.  There are many different ways to make it.  Everyone thinks they have the winning recipe with the correct ingredients in the right amounts.  After tasting a variety of leadership dishes I have to say there is one pivotal ingredient and that is trust

Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report

  • 74% less stress
  • 106% more energy at work
  • 50% higher productivity
  • 13% fewer sick days
  • 76% more engagement
  • 9% more satisfaction with their lives
  • 40% less burnout.

This shows us the incredible impact that trust can have in our workplace.

If we stop and consider what a workplace that does not have trust looks we might observe a lack of communication, clarity, and sincerity just for starters.

Distrust gives employees the feeling they are not safe.  Distrustful people engage in behavior like defending, attacking, resisting, and complaining to name a few. 

What is Trust?

Charles Feltman, in his bestseller The Thin Book of Trust, defines trust as: “Choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions”.  This choice of sharing is based on the belief you are safe because whoever is receiving it will be understanding and sympathetic. 

Picture the difference between having a personal issue you are struggling with and going to a workplace where you feel you need to hide it and pretend to be alright.  This takes an extra toll on you, and people might pick up on it, but since they do not know the whole story might perceive you as grumpy or withdrawn.

On the other hand, you step into a workplace where you feel comfortable saying you are going through something and you are not your best self.  Your leaders and co-workers now have received your vulnerability, and can meet you with compassion and empathy.  There is no need to put on a mask and pretend, you are received as yourself.  Your vulnerability is perceived as a strength, not a weakness. 

The idea is to create an environment where instead of looking out for people who might cause you harm, you look out for each other from a place of support and shared connection. 

How to Build Trust?

Hopefully, by this point, you are sold on the idea of trust.  The next big step is asking yourself how do I build it. 

The first thing to note about building trust is that it does not come from big statements.  The closest analogy that comes to mind is laying a brick wall.  A brick in this wall can look like:

  • asking for help
  • approaching an employee who looks down and asking if they are alright
  • being honest about your limitations
  • allowing employees the freedom to explore their ideas

Every day we are presented with several opportunities to either lay more bricks on the wall or knock down some bricks off the wall.  It is very important to create self-awareness around how our actions impact the people around us.

Leaders have a responsibility of being role models and use their behavior to be the change they want to see.  

Here are some tools you can use to get you started on this wall:

ToolQualitiesYour words
HonestySincere and TransparentClear and real
ReliabilityCan be counted onMeaning and Weight
EmpathyPeople’s best interests at heartReflect caring and understanding

Being a helping hand, aiding in resolving conflict, constructive criticism, and checking in on your team can be done with these tools in mind.  Share your strengths and knowledge to support others.  Finally, make sure to keep on track as much as possible, instead of sending mixed messages.  

When you find yourself off track, apologize and move forward.  It’s not about being perfect, it is about being consistent. 

Tiara Hoquee

Psychologist and Emotional Intelligence Coach

Further reading:

How To Uncover Our Blind Spots: Unconscious Bias In Leadership

Mental Wellness is Under Attack, Especially for Business Leaders

7 Effective Ways to Lighten Stress and Enhance the Mental Health of Leaders

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