Trust: The Critical Ingredient

Liz Selzer - Thursday, August 17, 2017


“I feel like there is a lot going on behind closed doors…”
“I don’t think he is being honest with us…”
“I just don’t trust her…”

The unraveling of trust in leadership might be the reason your organization feels like it is stalling out. An environment of mistrust hurts productivity more than you might think. The above sentiments of mistrust will affect your work setting, and have proven to be the beginning of stalled initiatives, defensive postures, and toxic company culture. This is the point where work becomes a job instead of a joy.


Having the privilege of developing leaders over the past 20 years has given me the opportunity to consider what truly makes them strong. You know, the type of leaders we passionately follow, leaders who inspire us be more and risk bravely. One thing stands out: Trust is a critical aspect to effective leadership. Jesse Lyn Stoner, author of Full Steam Ahead wisely points out that "People follow leaders by choice. Without trust, at best you get compliance." A compliance mindset kills creativity, stifles energy and halts momentum.

Experience has shown me that lasting leadership is not as much about charisma as it is about character. Trust is not engendered through polished speeches and positional authority, but instead by authentically addressing your team. Trust is not as much about appearing right as it is about approaching difficulties with integrity. It is not looking for blame but rather the celebration of the learning from mistakes. Trust is not about the short-term wins, but about many truthful actions over time.

So then, how do we build trust with those who look to us for leadership? Start with giving others your trust. When we trust our team members, it paves the way for them to trust us as leaders. Model authentic humility. Be honest, always. Communicate often and in as many forms as possible. If you don’t have the answers, tell people that and then work to find them. Ask for people’s perspectives and respectfully consider them. Take the time to actively listen to all the members on your team.

Building trust takes time, but in the end, it will save you time as your team is motivated by your authentic vision, creative because there is the safety of trust from which to springboard ideas, more efficient because they aren’t wasting time self-justifying and self-protecting, and productive because they know what is expected of them. Take time to cultivate trust; it is one of the most effective paths to successful leadership.


You bet, this is who we really are!

Amanda Dreher - Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ever wondered who your corporation really is? If you haven’t, you should. Infact, you should ask this on a regular basis. Your corporate culture is an ever changing and evolving, living and breathing animal. It is not some simple, static decree that you make once and it sticks. It is a whole system of inter-related moving parts that are reliant on each other.

Your corporate culture was not created in an isolated vacuum. Rather, the actions, the stories, even the goals of the past, present and future merge to shape the company you are now. These serve to shape the behaviors and beliefs of your people, your teams, your leaders, and your public. The corporate narrative, the values, the decisions, the rewards, the consequences all speak volumes about the company, both internally and externally.

Whether you choose to intentionally to build your corporate culture, or if it has just formed over time more organically, it will be there affecting your organization’s success. The big question then becomes, is your culture really reinforcing the values you state are your priorities?

If so, great job! Keep on doing what you are doing. If not, it is time to look at making changes that will better align the two. This can be a scary prospect. Questions of time, investment, invasiveness all come up. But, believe it or not, the quickest way to begin changing your corporate culture is simple, cheap and relatively quick.

The quickest way to begin changing your culture and reinforcing your values to create a new norm, is to begin with yourself and your leaders. Begin to take actions that demonstrate the new culture you are moving towards. You be the example.

For instance:

  • If you want collaboration to be a priority, begin to ask others to input into your projects.
  • If you want families to be a priority, begin by throwing a family friendly event.
  • If you want learning, build in time each week for your employees and yourself to research new developments in their field.
  • If you want more interaction and trust, begin simply by leaving your door open.
  • If you want a 24 hour response time, then you begin living by that standard.
  • If you want work/life balance, begin by turning your own computer off and unplugging in the evenings.

The example you set will catch on. People will begin to notice a difference. They may question, they may not trust it at first, but hang in there. Soon people will begin to like, to expect, and even to take on these new behaviors.

As a leader your team is watching you and constantly weighing where they stand and how they need to behave in order to succeed at your organization. You are leading by example whether you recognize it or not. Choose to recognize it and embrace it. Use your influence to demonstrate the corporate culture you desire for your organization and your team will follow.

By turning the expected behavioral norms upside down you will have people skeptically but hopefully asking, “Now wait a minute, is this who we really are?” And soon that question will shift into an enthusiastically emphatic answer of, “You bet this is who we really are.”

Mentor Leadership Team




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