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Letter to Leaders

Trust: The Leadership Superpower (Part 2)

For Part 1 of Trust: The Leadership Power, click here.

Trust. It comes up more than you think.

Trust in others starts with you.

When I was newly married, my wife asked me how my assistant was able to book so much travel for me. I said, “She has all my credit card numbers and passwords.” A long pause. Then, “You mean – you gave her OUR credit card numbers and passwords.”

There was a lot of explaining to do that night. A couple of weeks later, my wife asked me if my assistant could book some of our upcoming travel. The answer was “of course” – and that’s about how long it took for my wife to develop trust.

It has to start somewhere, and it needs to start with you as a leader.

In the last month, consider how many times you’ve used trust in thinking about your team:

  • “If I felt more trust in her, I’d give her more responsibility.”

  • “One of the goals for our retreat is to build trust among employees.”

  • “It’s important that other groups in the organization trust my team.”

What do we really mean when we make these statements? Why does building trust matter so much?


And what can we do as leaders to increase trust on our teams?

Trust can be frustrating; it tends to be a gut feeling for us instead of a concrete choice.


Stop assuming that trust is dependent on the behavior of others.

To create a trusting environment, understand how trust works (or doesn't).

First – what’s the opposite of trust? It’s doubt and uncertainty – two definite ways to create a bad workplace.

In our leadership program, we use a tool called The Trust VerifierTM. It’s based on the Russian Proverb, “Trust, but verify.” Participants candidly answer a series of questions, such as “How much do I trust my team members to follow through on projects?” We then discuss the responses and identify ways to improve the trust in the workplace.

I see three ways in which leaders don’t trust their employees:

  1. They haven’t worked for you long enough to gain your trust;

  2. There was a specific incident that caused you to not trust that person; or

  3. Their role or duties changed so much that you no longer believe his/her performance is worth of your trust.

So, it’s up to you to “Ditch The Doubt.” It’s up to them to earn your trust once you've extended it.

Four Quick Ways To “Ditch the Doubt”:

  1. Extend Trust

  2. Take a risk (that’s leadership)

  3. Show them your faith

  4. Let them step up, or…if they don’t earn your trust, they need to step out.

Think about the ways your business handles trust on a corporate basis. How does your business trust?

We're leading in an era where remote and work-from-home has never been more prevalent.

What’s the one thing you as a leader – or your company – has to do when employees are working away from the office?

In most cases, you have to trust your remote employees. A lot.

Beyond remote workers, what rules in your company should be re-evaluated? Most handbooks I see are full of minor, often silly rules which show a lack of trust in employees.


And there are always dozens of unwritten rules that do the same.

At your company, what rules should be re-evaluated?

In your own management style, what rules should you re-evaluate to increase trust?

Employees will never be great unless you trust them.

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