“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective” Stephen R Covey
You might remember me saying that my son got married recently. Getting married is, at its heart, about being vulnerable with another person and that requires a high degree of trust. Trust is the engine that relationships are built around. And the truth is that trust is crucial if we are to succeed in life.
What we fail to appreciate at times is the high cost we bear at all levels of our organisations when there is a lack of trust. Without trust, how can I believe that leaders have my best in mind? We need our employees and our colleagues to trust us. And trust means you take action that places you in the hands of others.
It’s a Tightrope
Some of you may recall the tight rope walker Charles Blondin who strung a tightrope across Niagara Falls. I believe that on one occasion he asked the assembled crowd ‘do you believe I can carry someone across the Niagara Falls on my back?’ ‘Yes,’ the crowd roared. His follow up question was something like ‘any volunteers?’ His manager at the time volunteered to do just that and climbed on Blondin’s back. The crowd believed and Blondin’s manager trusted.
Trust takes time to build and can take just seconds to lose. But here’s the thing, trust works. Throughout the pandemic issues of trust have been at the fore. Do we trust that the government is making the right decisions? Are the vaccines safe? There have been different reactions to the measures that have been put in place. I can guarantee though that many of those decisions have been made on the basis of trust.
There is a predictable effect when trust is there and when it is not and the consequences are significant. It is why this is a key issue in whether teams succeed or not, whether they reach their potential or not. Teams, when they work well together, do amazing things. They reach targets that seem impossible, output is up, people enjoy working with colleagues… I could go on. The truth is that the oil that high performing teams run on is trust.
Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else. Brené Brown
How can you build trust?
Relationships with clients, team members, colleagues, family and friends all rely on this issue of trust. For those of you in leadership, trust is crucial to your influence. The first question you have to ask yourself is ‘am I trustworthy?’
There are a few key things that help build trust:
- Have the highest good of those you lead in mind
- Integrity – it may at times take courage but following through on what you say lays a strong trust relationship between you and your team
- Make sure your team values are clear and take action to uphold them when they are broken
- You will make mistakes at some point in your leadership. Do not attempt to blame others or hide them, be quick to admit to them and apologise
- Make sure every member of your team can be heard
The Cost of No Trust
The best way I can think to illustrate the value of trust is to make it clear what happens when there is a lack of trust in relationships and, in this context, the team. If trust is low then you will question whether your colleagues or the team leader have your back. You will be second guessing what they are saying and whether they will deliver on their promises. All of this slows down the process. When trust is high people are free to collaborate knowing that you have each other’s back, that you can trust what is being said, and that people will not cut across you or humiliate you. The slower the team moves, the more costly it becomes.
Have a think for a moment: How much time do you think is wasted in teams and organisations because of a lack of trust?
Trust is like a bank account, you need to make big deposits so that in times of challenge there is something to draw on. What will you do to build trust in those around you?
Watch this space – next week I will be making an exciting announcement!