What is it that makes an organization thrive? What keeps business and its employees motivated and engaged? What is the number one thing customers expect from a company?
The more I read about leadership and think about my own experiences, the more simple the answer to these questions is.
When thinking about the skills required to be an effective leader, this is one of the most important.
Trust Creates Security
I don’t think any company starts with trust built into its cultural DNA, but this should be its primary focus when building a company.
Personally, when I feel trust within a company, my performance, creativity, and passion thrive. No matter how hard the road ahead is, when I feel I can trust an organization, and they have trust in me, I never doubt my ability to deliver results or my company’s ability to reach our goals.
But, without trust, it’s easy to question my role or feel like I should be going above and beyond my job’s expectations.
For someone who prides himself on being a high performer, it’s hard to feel like putting in extra effort, especially when it takes away from other areas of my life. When trust is missing, I can question if a company cares about me or how I’m performing.
There’s a line an infinite-minded leader can’t cross, and that is to give in to profit before its employees. Of course, profit is essential, as it’s the fuel for caring about your employees more – but it can never be more important than to take care of your employees. If they feel that they are the number one on your priority list, you’re creating a safe environment where trust can thrive.
Trust is Built-in All Levels of an Organization
You have to trust your employees and your team first. Showing that you need their help, seeing them, and listening to them is a crucial way to do this. It also means that they will listen to you.
Trust also means asking for help. The act of asking connects you with people and makes them want to help. They feel that you’re on the same side, aiming for the same goal. That creates engagement and a culture of exchange and productivity.
Often, in an organization with a top-down leadership style and where the leaders don’t trust you first, you will have micromanaging and a sense of insecurity.
Without sharing and transparency, it’s easy to wonder if you’re working toward the same goal and feel like your focus is not aligned with that of the leadership.
This can lead to you questioning whether you even belong to a company because you don’t feel there is trust running both ways. It can lead to doubt and uncertainty, especially when leadership doesn’t show trust by sharing information that helps you understand why you’ve been asked to do something that might not make immediate sense.
When you let people give and take and share responsibility, you create trust, and that trust creates a sense of shared experiences and alignment toward company goals.
Trust Means Being Vulnerable
You will always be dependent on someone else, having to trust that your team or an individual will deliver and look out for you. But, as a leader, take the first steps to foster this in your organization’s culture.
But being vulnerable is not easy. As a leader, you have to show that you’re human and trust people enough to let them help you. To ask, take the first big step.
By asking, you make yourself vulnerable. Like falling into your community’s arms or business, trusting them enough, asking them to catch you.
Trust Means Holding Yourself Accountable
When people trust you, you should hold yourself accountable to them. Leaders must remember that people listen to what they say and that their words create expectations.
Personally, or in a business, trust is measured on past experience, on observing your ability to make the right decisions, and your ability to step up when needed. When you deliver on those expectations, you will lead the way toward more trust.
Without trust in your company, you will have a harder earning trust from customers. If you don’t trust your leadership, you will never perform to the top of your ability, and you will never go the extra mile to make a difference.
You will do your job, yes, but with uncertainty and maybe even feeling insecure. The customer will eventually pick up on that, which will affect the whole business like a downward spiral.
You Have to Work Hard to Gain Trust
For me, trust is key to being passionate about what I do. So many people can have a good job, a great business culture, and great opportunities, but without trust, it falls flat, like paint peeling off a wall revealing all the cracks behind.
With trust, you will have high performers that like their job and want to work together with you to build the things your company says it believes in. You will have people that feel safe and seen and excel in their jobs, giving a little extra, even if it’s not in their job description, because they know everyone is on the same page.
Trust comes from showing people who you indeed are, knowing revealing yourself is safe to do with them.
It’s built on relationships — on you learning to really see the people you are working with and letting them know who you are. It’s about showing more than just your skillset to your team.
The Bottom Line
I think a business can function without trust, and I’ve seen many do it only for the short term. However, if you don’t have trust, you will never build a lasting company and never have employees that want to work with you.
Not because they don’t trust what you do, but because they don’t trust why you do it. If you’re consistent in what you’re doing so all can anticipate your actions, you create a sense of secureness and confidence that will keep your company alive and thriving.
In my next post in this leadership series, I will discuss trust and why it is crucial when managing risk.
[This post was originally posted on Medium, May 18, 2017]