Trust and Leadership: It’s a Two-Way Street

Sep 8, 2021 | Culture and Engagement, Leadership

“Without trust, we don’t truly collaborate; we coordinate – or at best, cooperate. It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team.”

“The Speed of Trust: The One thing That Changes Everything” by Stephen M.R. Covey

Trust is earned. If you want to be trusted, you also need to extend it. Trust is a two-way street, allowing all involved to make better decisions and perform. Simply put, we collectively get it done!

We have all experienced it or encountered it – leaders who are overwhelmed, drowning in their workload, and yet still refusing to leverage and delegate work to their team. Through working with and coaching these leaders over the years, my question to them is “Why are you hanging onto the work?” Their answer is, “I just don’t trust that they will get it done or get it done right.”

What we have to remember is that our role as leaders is to motivate and inspire our people. Instead, void of trust, we create a demoralized, disengaged, and disempowered environment.

Research shows that when a high-trust culture exists, employee engagement is 76% higher!

“Turnover Tsunami,” “Resignation Boom,” and “The Great Resignation.” As organizations and employers brace for what’s ahead, hiring and even more so retaining talent will continue to pose a tremendous challenge. As leaders, we must “build the kind of work environment that attracts, focuses, and keeps talented employees.” (Marcus Buckingham, “First Break All the Rules: What the Worlds Greatest Managers Do Differently”)

Here are some ways leaders can better attract, develop, and retain talent, even during these difficult times.

Be Consistent

Do what you say you’ll do. Not once, not occasionally, but all the time. It’s consistent behaviour that will earn and build trust.

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

Gretchen Rubin

Model the Right Behaviour

You’re on stage, and ” leaders get the behaviour they exhibit and tolerate.” (“Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done” by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan). Use good judgment in your actions and hold others accountable for those standards. There’s no denying that your company’s culture is a direct result of the behaviour of you and your leaders.

Show Up, Be Present

Now, more than ever, we need to take the time to connect with our people. Being behind the scenes, staying in your office, or being detached will not result in your people trusting you. Instead, get to know your people, ask questions, engage in dialogue, and see every encounter as an opportunity to build relationships and rapport with your people.

To sum it up, a recent Harvard Business Review study found that three key factors that drive trust in leadership include consistency, good judgment, and positive relationships. 

We know that trust is not just a building block but a foundation of a great company. During these times of change, we need to step up to the plate and demonstrate leadership behaviours that instill trust and confidence in us and, while doing so, also invest more trust in our people to develop their talent and retain them.

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Sofia Arisheh

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