Trust is Essential
Trust is Essential for Everyone’s Health
Our bodies are miracles of self-regulation. For example, we know when we need water because we feel thirsty. Water is of course essential for good health and performance of all healthy bodily functions. The feeling of thirst motivates us to drink to keep us healthy. Without enough water, we can become lethargic, develop headaches, lack focus, and even stop being productive.
Just as our bodies send signals for water, our employees send signals for the need for trust. Lack of trust leads to lack of engagement. The disengaged become unproductive and can even become cynical. Successful leaders will not only trust people to do the right things, they will know how and when to provide enough “trust” necessary for healthy organizational function.
Exceptional leaders are sensitive to the importance of building and maintaining trust. Poor leaders interpret the symptoms of poor trust as flaws in the employees. Leaders are often frustrated with their efforts to build trust. This is often because their definition of trust is incomplete. Therefore, their methods of building and maintaining trust are often ineffective or short lived.
More and more C-Suite leaders are becoming convinced that the soft skills needed to build and maintain trust are at least as important as technical skills for performance. And the ability to build and maintain trust is one of those critical skills.
Furthermore, high trust organizations require less bureaucracy, enjoy lower turnover, are better able to manage change, are more collaborative, and can manage growth more effectively and quickly. Communico offers a program in MAGIC Transformational Leadership – to help leaders transform themselves and their teams and develop the strong foundation of trust organizations need to achieve and exceed their goals.
What should be our definition of trust? Should we just trust others and hope they reciprocate. Ernest Hemingway once said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” This may be true, but a leader must have a predictable plan to build and maintain trust or risk wasting time and increasing costs. We cannot afford increased costs, nor can we live with wasted time. We cannot afford to just trust others and hope.
An Effective Definition
To build and maintain trust requires an appreciation of the most effective definition of trust. I suggest we adopt The International Association of Business Communicators definition of trust: “a willingness to be vulnerable because of the presence of integrity, concern, competence and shared objectives.” Knowing that trust can be defined with four key elements, managing each of these four elements can provide us with a framework to become more vulnerable while concurrently creating a trusting environment. A trust environment will help us to bring out the genius in every employee.
Trust is not a destination. The speed and frequency of change requires constant monitoring. We can’t just drink one glass of water and expect to maintain personal health. Leaders who appreciate trust must be sensitive and vigilant. An effective leader must be able and willing to provide ongoing trust when needed. It never ends.
Getting all the technical details perfectly every day is not enough to fully manage performance. The technical skills and knowledge, along with this most useful definition of trust will create a healthy high-performance organization.
Do you have an employee who’s role has just changed from contributor to leader? Check out our program, MAGIC Leadership: from Contributor to Leader.
Dr. Wally Hauck is a senior vice president and co-owner of Communico. He is the author of Art of Leading: 3 Principles for Predictable Performance Improvement, Stop the Leadership Malpractice: How to Replace the Typical Performance Appraisal, Unleash Employee Engagement: 7 Initial Conditions for Outstanding Results
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