How can you know when you have a trust problem?
There is “lip service” instead of seeking solutions to common challenges.

There is a debilitating disease afoot in the world—distrust. What is the cure?

One antidote is trust in leadership. This can only happen if leaders know how to build and sustain bonds of trust. This capability is good for careers because it is good for business.

According to a Towers Watson Worldwide Study, high trust organizations outperform low trust organizations on total shareholder ROI by more than 280%.  This reflects the impact the trust level in an organization has on group behavior.

When the trust level is at rock bottom, you tend to see conscious sabotage and passive-aggressive behaviors. When the trust level is modest, you tend to see compliant and cautious behaviors.  On the other hand, when the trust level is high, you tend to get success generating behaviors—creativity, collaboration, and alignment.

Given the downsides of distrust and the many benefits of a high trust level, the case for leaders building and sustaining trust is strong. So, how can they do that?

There are three pillars for a high-trust culture:

1. TransparencyBehave in ways that make it easy for others to see what is taking place. For example, in decision making:

  • Be clear about the process. Make sure that everyone who will be affected understands how you intend to make decisions.
  • Engage a diverse group of people who have the knowledge needed for making fast, smart decisions.
  • Communicate continuously. Tell people exactly where you are in the decision process. This minimizes the surprises that breed mistrust.

2. CharacterHave solid standards of right and wrong and continuously striving to live up to those standards. Frances Hesselbein, a leader of impeccable character offers this advice:

     Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words.

    Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.

    Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.

    Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your CHARACTER.

3. Competency – Peter Drucker has said that “leadership is defined by results, not attributes.”

People must first believe that you have the necessary skills, judgment, and influence to lead, but that is not enough. You must live up to expectations and consistently deliver on your commitments.

To keep the trust level around you strong, audit it by regularly answering four questions:

  1. Do people know what to expect from you?
  2. Do people believe you do what you say?
  3. Do people believe you pay attention to their interests?
  4. Do people believe you are competent to carry out what you say?

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