Organizational Trust Starts with Trustworthy Leaders

What Others Are Saying About Trust

The world of work is changing.  What used to be clear lines of space and authority have blurred.  Suppliers, customers, and manufacturers no longer operate in silos; however, the way we do business has become almost entirely virtual.

The world of work is global; we’re now completely interdependent of each other. We’ve gone from a top-down, power-based leadership model to one that is flat or horizontal.  We’re becoming more autonomous, we exercise more control, and we enjoy boundaries that seem limitless.  In this horizontal, virtual business world, the “key success factor,” says Charles Green, contributor, Forbes magazine, “becomes the ability to persuade someone over whom you have no power to collaborate with you in pursuit of a common mission.” To do so requires a great amount of trust.  Which is why “leaders can no longer trust in power,” says Green, “instead, they rely on the power of trust.”

Leaders today must be both trusting and trustworthy; they must be excellent collaborators, and they must operate from a clear set of values and principles.  They must understand they are interdependent of others, not reliant on direct authority. They must be self-motivated and able to intrinsically motivate others.  

Our Approach

At Work Effects, our clients turn to us to help them form trusting organizations that are built upon integrity, engagement, purpose, and reliability.  Whether the interaction is at a personal, team, or organizational level, trust is the primary factor that fuels successful outcomes. 

Who drives trust in the workplace?  Our clients have discovered that leaders play a critical role in constructing and sustaining trust throughout their organizations.  If an organization wants to build trust, they must start with building leaders who are trustworthy and promote trust in others.

The problem is we don’t have enough confidence and trust in our leaders.  In fact, our trust in leaders is at an all-time low according to the 2010 Harvard Kennedy School for Leadership’s National Leader Index Report.  Nearly 70% of Americans indicated they either agree or strongly agree that we have a leadership crisis and lack confidence and trust in our leaders. 

What do leaders have to do to become more trustworthy and to promote trust within their organizations and teams?  Our research indicates there are five BASIC™ virtues of trusted leaders: Beneficial Partnerships, Aligned Emotions, Sustained Determination, Intellectual Flexibility, and Character.

Beneficial Partnerships a leader’s capacity to foster collaborative relationships

Expert Advice: Give public praise and support to others

When leaders share credit and publically support their teams when conflict arises, they gain trust and loyalty.  In return, their direct reports will go the extra mile to defend them when things get heated. 

Aligned Emotions – a leader’s emotional maturity including knowing one’s passions, wants and needs, and those of others

Expert Advice: Display emotional and behavioral stability

Nobody likes working for a “monkey” manager.   A “monkey” manager is one who swings in and out of moods and leadership styles.  One day they are micromanaging and the next day you don’t see or hear from them.  At times they are even-tempered and other times they easily lose their cool.  Employees often do their best to avoid monkey managers, which creates an unstable working environment.

Sustained Determination – a leader’s inner strength to initiate action

Expert Advice: Provide some room for innovation and give employees the opportunity to independently overcome obstacles and succeed

Leaders who give their employees a sense of autonomy, self-mastery, and the ability to experiment with new ideas build trust.

Intellectual Flexibility – a leader’s capacity to adapt

Expert Advice: Ask for help and be open to input from others

Let’s face it, many leaders got to where they are today because they are smart and hard-working.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  Leaders who can practice both fierce intellectual capabilities and genuine humility will create a loyal following.  It is essential to know the limitations of their expertise.  This enables leaders to ask for input from others and change course to find a better way.   When leaders are open to others’ input, they build trust and confidence.  “Leaders, who work most effectively, never say ‘I’ because they think ‘we’ and ‘team.’ They understand their job is to make the team function. They accept responsibility and do not sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done,” says Peter Drucker.

Character – a leader’s moral integrity

Expert Advice: Keep your promises

Nothing can replace character.  Character breeds reliability and reliability drives trust.  The more leaders follow through with customers and employees, the more trust is built.  Leaders who can be counted on will be trusted.  Conversely, leaders who demand reliability from others will drive trust within their team.

Why Should You Care?

High-trust organizations return 286% more value to shareholders than low-trust organizations according to a 2002 Watson Wyatt study.  One way to become a high-trust organization is to build leaders that exhibit trustworthy behaviors, foster trust among team members, and reinforce trustworthy behaviors throughout the organization and with customers.

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