Trust is a must
A recent survey indicated that around one-third of people do not trust their employers. Now, that might mean “in general,” without applying to a specific manager or leader. But it’s an extraordinary statistic, nonetheless.
As Drew Bordas puts it, “A lack of trust drags down our ability to get the job done.” He’s right! Trust isn’t just “a feeling.” A lack of trust hampers creativity, kills honest feedback, discourages respectful dialogue, and can negatively impact commitment and teamwork—an entire suite of qualities that are essential to success.
On this week’s episode of “Aim Higher,” my panel of expert guests and I talk about the importance of trust. Both for leaders, and within the teams we manage.
One important point that we cover is that being trustworthy isn’t the same as being likeable. As leaders, our job is to make our organizations successful. In many cases, that will mean that it’s very helpful if people like us. That’s true. But it’s also true that nobody likes everyone all the time and that certain circumstances require leaders to do things that will make them less likeable.
That can often be one of the hardest parts of the job. Because we may know that a decision or direction is necessary… but that doesn’t help if it negatively impacts someone on our team and they hold us personally responsible.
Why is this important in a discussion about trust? Because in some cases, leaders may violate trust in order to seem more likeable. They may say one thing to one employee and then turn around and say something else to another, because each person wants to hear a different story. Or they may not take accountability for a hard choice and push it off on others or just blame the circumstances.
But while being less liked may hurt you personally in the short term, being less trusted can be fatal for you as a leader in the long run.
If your people don’t trust you, they may eventually become so stressed out that they leave. But in the meantime? They won’t feel comfortable coming to you with new ideas. Or with sharing criticism. Or maybe even reporting on vital legal or human resource issues.
As one of my guests this week said, “Trust is about influence.” I agree completely. So, if you want to develop and grow your influence as a leader, you also need to build trust.
Cultivating trust as a leader is not a task accomplished overnight. It requires consistency, transparency, and the bravery to admit your errors. A leader’s credibility lays the foundation of trust. When leaders maintain trust, they create an environment where creativity, resilience, and productivity thrive.
I hope you enjoy the conversation.
Click here to listen.
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Image Credit: marek piwnicki.