Three Ways Leaders Can Build Trust in Organizations
Three Ways Leaders Can Build Trust in Organizations
Aug 06, 2019 5 min read

Trust is linked to the feeling of psychological safety.

Pause for a moment and think of who do you trust most in your life? Who do you feel safe and secure with? Now think of why do you trust them?

Trust can be built in several ways. We tend to trust people who value us and have our best interests at heart. Trust also emerges when we know that we are being accepted for who we are, without judgements and labels. When we feel safe in another person's presence, it brings out the best in us.

People who demonstrate behaviours that align with our own value system win us.

Six Seconds a US-based non-profit organization for Emotional Intelligence, in a report called Vitality 2017 (which is about the value of emotions in the Global Workforce) found trust to be the lowest score amongst workforces in their research across 95 countries. Organizations with low trust scored the lowest in retention, productivity, customer focus and future success.

Clearly, trust is a key leadership skill and plays an important role in the success of an organization. Leaders who invest in building and sustaining trust with their team's members are rewarded with people bringing their best selves to work thus enhancing productivity.

Today's Leaders function in complex organizational environments with multiple workforces, uncertainty and constantly changing business climates. Building trust in such a climate calls for some key behaviours from Leaders that will help them to engage positively with their teams.

They are - Transparency, Clarity and Consistency.

Transparency: Transparency can be demonstrated in different aspects of leadership. I want to focus on two key aspects - decisions and communication.

Involve teams in the decisions that impact them: When leaders involve teams, decisions are accepted faster and work better. A platform is created for genuine dialogue and sharing relevant information, thus cutting out ambiguity. The additional benefit is that when the time comes for high impact key decisions to be kept confidential, employees respect the boundaries because they trust you!

Fostering transparency through communication: I recall a time in my previous organization when the company was going through a tumultuous change. The CEO at that time took it upon himself to communicate on a regular basis with the entire organization. Every week we would have his personal note drop into our email box, updating us of the latest situation.

Occasionally when there was nothing to report, he would still communicate with general information! His consistent efforts fostered transparency with no unnecessary speculations or rumours in the office coffee and lunchrooms that easily lead to de-motivation.

Clarity - When someone gives me clear directions, I reach my destination faster! We follow people who are clear about their vision, know why it is important and have a plan on how to get there.

Clarity is key in communication because when leaders are able to transfer their message in a simple, direct way they cut out confusion and ambiguity. This makes people confident about trusting the communication to deliver results.

Consistency -How do you show up in your workplace on a daily basis? Do you consider yourself emotionally balanced?

If the quality of your presence is dependent on your mood or the current challenge you face, then chances are that the people around you don't feel safe with you. People have to gauge your mood to know that you will be receptive to their inputs or feedback. They simply don't know what to expect from you.

On the other hand, being good at managing yourself and staying emotionally balanced means people know what to expect from you and feel confident about approaching you. Your dependability creates trust.

Roger Federer may not win every Wimbledon but over the years people have learnt what to expect of him due to the way he shows up in every single game: steadfast, calm and steady. The result is that people trust him to show them a good game and value for their money.

Conclusion Finally, trust is built step by step and with patience. When people trust their leaders, creativity, motivation and collaboration become abundant.

In the words of Stephen Covey - It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team.


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