With talk of security breaches surfacing in the news recently, the issue of trust comes to mind. The very concept may seem a bit old fashioned in an age where we’ve relaxed our standards about a good many virtues, but as all the press shows, being able to trust our leaders is as important as it’s always been. For our leaders ever to become leaders in the first place, they must gain our trust. Once they have, to remain in good standing requires our continued trust. And if they lose our trust, we all know how difficult, and in certain circumstances, impossible it is for them to regain it.
This is just as true for business leaders as it is for politicians. Because it is such an essential ingredient, one of the first topics I bring up in my New Manager Leadership Training course is this issue of trust.
Employees don’t like to feel they are being managed. It goes against human nature to relinquish control. However, they feel empowered following a leader they can trust.
Some people seem to inspire trust by their very presence. They give off the warmth vibe; it’s called charisma. If you are lucky enough to possess this quality, you have probably already enjoyed a good deal of career success. If it doesn’t come so naturally, you may be among the majority who have to work a bit harder at attaining others trust. The good news is that being trustworthy is also a function of competence and it is a skill that you can actually learn.
People generally fall into two groups when it comes to putting their trust in someone. Some trust others immediately, until they are proven wrong. Others do not trust anyone until they’ve got enough experience with them to justify it. Working on the assumption that it’s this second group you’re dealing with, you would build trust over shared experiences, such as working together to overcome a mutual challenge.
However, new managers often don’t have the luxury of time to earn trust from their staff members. So, a way to start off on the right track is to focus on the other person, rather than yourself. If you engage, listen attentively, and vocalize your appreciation of their experience and perspective, they will feel respected, seen and heard and they will begin to trust you. Another thing you can do is be honest, even transparent. If something bad is happening, acknowledge it. If you don’t have all the answers, admit it. No one expects you to be superhuman. And you will, in fact, be appreciated for acknowledging that you, like your employees, don’t always have all the answers. When it comes to gaining trust, authenticity wins over arrogance every time.
For a complete arsenal of techniques you can use to accelerate trust building, along with tools and skills to address other qualities of leadership, sign up for my New Manager Leadership Training course. Go to my consulting page to learn more.
4 thoughts on “A Matter of Trust”
Kristiina, great article on trust! It is so important to earn it and keep it. Sadly many politicians loose trust, yet continue to have followers. I for one need trust in the leaders I follow. Your leadership course would benefit many managers and politicians!
Thanks, Margaret. Trust, of course, is just one of the many factors why we follow someone. I’m glad you appreciate integrity in those who you follow. As well as embody it yourself!
I really liked your point here: “..new managers often don’t have the luxury of time to earn trust from their staff members. So, a way to start off on the right track is to focus on the other person, rather than yourself. If you engage, listen attentively, and vocalize your appreciation of their experience and perspective, they will feel respected, seen and heard and they will begin to trust you.” This is soooo important for managers to do; but don’t just SAY it but walk the walk so to speak. I used to work for a company and this was the (supposed) culture, when in fact, there was no “open door policy” to come in and share one’s gripes, and true opinions. In fact, you were actually punished in a way, if you shared anything negative about the company’s policy’s, procedures, etc. ~ as this particular boss (co-owner of the company) took it as a personal afront, and suggested that I was, “telling him how to run his company” ~ which maybe in a way, I was… What advice do you have for managers/leaders in terms of having an “open door policy” and truly making it a safe place for employees to openly share (and yes, sometimes….complain!)
Thank you, Tracy, for your great comment and question about how to develop and live the “open door policy”. Your question goes right to the heart of true leadership. “Open door policy” only works when curiosity and respect are practiced – otherwise it’s just a trap of frustration like you described.
When leaders have courage to maintain a mindset of curiosity and respect of others they are open to listening and learning. When they make people feel seen and heard, they generate trust around them. It takes courage to practice curiosity and respect because they always involve risk – risk that you might hear something you do not like or agree with.
A loss of curiosity is a lost opportunity. Who in this rapidly changing world can afford not to hear what employees, customers or other stakeholders have to say? When leaders lose their curiosity, they have lost a key ingredient that makes their leadership powerful. I hope that any new manager who is stepping up into their leadership understands this. I will definitely write more about this!