Articles

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.

 

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