Stop trying to build trust….Start Being Trustworthy

Stop trying to build trust…….. Start Being Trustworthy
It seems that trust is at an all time low. Many people have felt burned; some have given up trusting anyone, especially in organizations. Much has been made of how competition, scandal and layoff after layoff have left our organizations and their leaders scratching their heads for new ways to build employee trust. A recent TED talk with Onora O’Neill got me thinking that we may be trying to fix up the wrong building.  Maybe people are smarter than we think not to trust their leaders.Of course, many leaders are sincerely trying to build trust. They want to engage the best efforts of their employees because they know they cannot succeed without them. But trying to build trust seems somehow external to us and more focused on the employee and changing their views.  We take surveys and hire prestigious consulting firms to create initiatives and design events and can still fail to “build trust” among the people we lead.
What if it isn’t them who need to change the way they see things?What if it is us as leaders who need to refocus? Maybe our time would be better spent building our trustworthiness?  It’s not easy. There is personal risk involved.  It requires the courage to engage the heart – ours and theirs.
“Few delights equal the mere presence of one whom we trust utterly. “
George MacDonald
We must be willing to be vulnerable – to risk opening ourselves to others and engage them on an emotional level so they feel we have their best interests at heart. Vulnerability is often seen as weakness in organization, but nothing could be further from the truth. Vulnerability is a critical component in being trustworthy and in a leader’s success (Brené Brown, Daring Greatly).We must have a sacred and unwavering commitment to be honest AND preserve another’s dignity.  Often we take pride in “telling it like it is”, or being a “straightshooter”, which usually means we are happy to give our opinions and judgments without filter at any moment. The kind of honesty that makes us trustworthy focuses inward – honest about our own desires, agendas, biases, strengths and weaknesses, beliefs, commitments and mistakes.We must walk our talk 24/7. Most of us know we should set an example and abide by high standards in public.  To be trustworthy, we need to do our best to do the right thing in and out of work, when others are looking and when no one is looking, when it is to our advantage and when it is not.  As a leader, you are always being watched.

Here are a few of the actions that have led me to determine a trustworthy leader.  I’m sure you have your own list, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.
  • Be honest – Speak respectfully and in private, state as your truth, not the only one. You do NOT have to say everything that crosses your mind to be honest.
  • Admit your own mistakes and avoid public blame when others make mistakes. Focus on the consequences, solutions and learning.
  • Talk to people directly when you have an issue instead of about them. The people you are talking to you always wonder what you say about them when they are not around, even if they appear to be “on your side.”
  • Listen to the truth of others – your staff, your peers, your boss, your customers – take their input, reward them for taking the risk and try their ideas.
  • When you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know the answer.  Ego is the biggest obstacle to being trustworthy.
  • Help your people develop critical judgment about who, when and what to trust.
  • Go first – Do and BE what you say you will and highlight trustworthy behavior in others.  Give people examples so they know what good looks like.

NEW from execudome! Here’s a takeaway “Q Card” to use as a reminder!