One of my observations on the current Brexit situation in the United Kingdom is the strong evidence of the erosion of trust in political and business leaders.
Trust is the glue that bonds relationships, and when that disappears, people’s faith, hope, and belief diminish. In a work setting, the loss of trust has a consequential impact on productivity levels and the quality of the key results achieved.
So as a leader, what are you doing to make sure that trust is maintained and enhanced in your team and your organisation?
I draw on the work of Reina and Reina [Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace, 1999], which I believe gives excellent insight into what trust is and how you might maintain and improve it.
They suggest that there are three types of trust – competence trust, contractual trust, and communications trust.
Competence trust is the trust you receive linked to your capability. That is demonstrated by how well you respect people’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. How well you respect their judgement? How active in involving others and actively seeking their input? How well you help people learn new skills? Competence Trust builds when you lead by example and when you care for others. It greatly improves when you engage and involve people in decision-making processes that impact on their work and lives.
Contractual trust is the trust you receive linked to your character. That is demonstrated by how well you manage expectations. How well do you establish appropriate boundaries, and delegate appropriately? Do you encourage mutually serving intentions and do you honour agreements. Most of all, are you consistent in your actions and behaviour? Contractual Trust builds when you are open, transparent, clear, and measured in what you say and do.
Communications trust is the trust you receive linked to your ability to disclose. That is demonstrated by how well you share information? How well you tell the truth and openly admit to mistakes when you make them? It is particularly apparent in how well you can give and receive constructive feedback and whether you can maintain confidences. Communications Trust builds when you speak with good purpose and maintain consistency, regularity, and authenticity in what you say and do.
There are lessons in this thinking and these approaches that are of benefit to us all.
I see the damage that lack of trust is having in our society just now, not only with our politicians and business people but also with people of ethnic origins, disabilities and other things that mark them differently from ‘mainstream’. I know too that it will be a long and difficult process to rebuild that trust.
I urge each and every reader to reflect on the trust you share, you build, and you receive and make whatever efforts you can to continue to grow trust in whichever way is open to you, with family, friends and work colleagues alike.
How are you doing in that process? What more can you do to build trust? What might I do to help you in that journey?