The Role of Trust in Leadership

Long gone are the days when we would follow our corporate leadership blindly as if they had special knowledge of our future and had our best interest in mind. In today's corporate world, the millennials want and need more psychologically, than their predecessors. That "more" is in the form of values, beliefs, and relationships. As leaders and managers, we all run on that hamster wheel trying to tackle the enormous challenges we face daily thereby causing us to forget to take the time to be human and connect with others at a personal level; to communicate values, distinguish beliefs, build confidence, and develop relationships . These attributes are the foundation for trust in leadership. Our success in the long run depends on our ability to develop trust with our direct reports and those that support our efforts.

So what do I mean by trust? Trust is a belief in someone or something. It allows us to rely on others and have faith in them as a part of our social network. It is what gives us purpose in what we do and feeds our passion. As people, we all have an inherent need to believe in something greater than ourselves. That's why we attend church, join community groups, or seek an occupation that allows us to share our values and in all, lets us believe we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. These bonds must come from an authentic position of emotional attachment otherwise there is no commitment or trust in the person or institution.

In business, trust is what provides the safety net for risk and risk is where your innovation, learning, and exploration evolve from. Trust is the psychological support system that encourages us to think and act beyond our comfortable safety zones. When we trust, we feel protected. In today's business landscape, leaders need to examine the power of trust and the treasures that come with it. To help with this examination, David O'Brien has provided a framework:

  • First dimension covers trust in your skill and capacity to achieve success.
  • Second dimension covers character (integrity and consistency).
  • Third dimension covers leadership intention (both for the organization and individual).

As leaders, it is our responsibility to develop a strong sense of culture (belonging) where people are not afraid to take risks. In essence, it is our responsibility to build a safety net and look out for those that work for us within our organization. Doing so builds credibility, loyalty, and yes... trust. It's been my experience that when I get off the hamster wheel and take the time to cultivate a culture focused on values, credibility (walk my talk), confidence in leadership, and demonstrate my commitment to caring for others, I then began to see the trust, loyalty, engagement, and effort that lends to the success of the team and organization.

TFocus on becoming the leader others want to follow. Take responsibility and earn the trust of those who surround you and remember, in the words of Peter Drucker - "That effective leadership is earning community trust and exercising it in a judicious, mutually responsible way." Foster an atmosphere of shared values, build trust through empowerment, and develop authentic relationships. Image... if you have trust between management and employees, the things you can accomplish: increased innovation, better problem-solving, productive employees, and yes... ultimately, success!

©  Darrielle Ehrheart | August 30, 2015

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