“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” Seth Godin
Have you ever worked in an organization where the leader’s words and actions did not line up? Where service people tell the customer one thing and do another? Where managers ask their people to spy on their co-workers? Someone once said, “People will walk through a wall for a leader they trust, but they won’t cross the street for someone they don’t.”
Trust is a critical factor in building relationships, strengthening teams, and growing leaders. Is trust a negotiable trait for effective leadership? No way! “The very first job of a leader is to inspire trust (ConantLeadership, June, 2015).” Leaders set the tone for a culture of trust and it must be earned by a series of actions. Simon Sinek reinforces this idea in his video, Building Trust through Committed Leadership.
Trust is foundational in every relationship – both business and personal. During my first year in a new organization, I was asked by my boss, the CFO, to be a recipient of a 360 assessment. My immediate response was, “No, thank you. I don’t know these people, I don’t trust these people and I’m not sure I want to hear their feedback.” He was wise enough to give me some time and space to build trust.
Contrast that with a recent experience I had in a face-to-face 360 feedback session with 5 people I interact with regularly, including my bosses. They came prepared to engage in a conversation with me about my style, my values, my strengths, and my opportunities. Despite a few moments of inner defensiveness, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so loved and supported in a work environment in my life. In fact, I left the meeting feeling that it was one of the highlights of my career, all because of the trust I have for every one of my co-workers around the table.
Patrick Lencioni maintains that trust is the foundation of a high functioning, cohesive team. He said, “…when team members are truly comfortable being exposed to one another, they begin to act without concern for protecting themselves. As a result, they can focus their energy and attention completely on the job at hand, rather than on being strategically disingenuous or political with one another.” When this kind of trust exists in organizations, we create meaningful personal connections, establish a foundation for high performing teams and maximize our effectiveness with employees and customers.
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen R. Covey
Three ways I’m committed to building trust in the coming year:
- Trust myself: take risks, increase confidence, extend grace – There is a saying that you cannot love others unless you first love yourself. Maybe trust is like that; I have a chance to build trust within me to strengthen the foundation of trust between me and others. I want to cultivate trusting my intuition, feeling free to move into spaces that are inviting and challenging me, and extend grace to myself if things don’t turn out the way I expected. I want to move forward with full commitment, aware of my gifts and growth opportunities, and trust that I will learn much in the journey.
- Trust others: honor their experiences/perspectives, empower them, be vulnerable – This does not mean that I hold no convictions. It does mean that I hold my heart and mind open as others share their point of view and the path they are traveling on. It means I relinquish control so that others may learn, grow and build confidence and competence. It means that I am real, authentic, and willing to openly share my struggles.
- Trust circumstances: that they will shape me, not define me, and will teach me if I am open – Trust is about leaning into the unknown, the untried, the new and the different. I cannot predict, know or control what’s happening around me, but I can make choices as I navigate unchartered territories. I can enjoy the ride and look for learning.
When we trust ourselves, we stretch outside our comfort zones and try new things.
When we trust others, we empower them to live, work, and lead into their full potential.
When we trust our circumstances, we can be peaceful, present and positive about the future.
How will you build trust in the year ahead? Share your ideas!