Courage: Braving TrustPosted on February 23, 2020

Vicki Noel, MLHR, SHRM-SPC, SPHR

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Charles Feltman, in The Thin Book of Trust, defines trust as “choosing to risk something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.”  And he describes distrust as “what is important to me is not safe with this person in this situation (or any situation).”  When you read those two definitions, it is easy to see why talking about trust is so difficult.  Most leaders want to believe that we are trustworthy, even though some of us struggle to trust others.   Those who struggle with trust, or don’t have the tools to talk about it directly with the other person involved, oven then turn to talk about people instead of to them.  When we are not specific and direct about our issues that concern trust, we risk wasting a great deal of time getting to resolution with our colleagues.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Trust is the glue that holds teams and organizations together.  According to research conducted by the Great Places to Work Institute, trust between managers and employees is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces.  When leaders ignore trust issues, it is usually at the expense of the leader’s performance, AND the team’s and organization’s success.  Leaders can encourage the building of trust capital with the team through their consistent BRAVING behaviors (see below).  These specific behaviors, identified by research completed by Brene Brown, demonstrate a leader’s courage to extend and build trust within their team.

How can you do it? 

Respect BOUNDARIES.  Leaders demonstrating trust respect the boundaries of others.  When they are unsure whether or not something is ok or not, trustworthy leaders ask and clarify. 

Be RELIABLE. Trustworthy leaders do what they say they will do.  AT work, this means they are aware of their competencies and limitations so that they do not over-promise.  Leaders braving trust also work toward balancing their competing priorities so that they can deliver on their commitments.

Hold yourself ACCOUNTABLE. Leaders who lead with trust own their mistakes, apologize, and make amends.

VAULT.  Trustworthy leaders don’t share information or experiences that are not theirs to share.  These leaders clarify upfront if something cannot be kept confidential (i.e., effects the organization) so that ground rules are established.

Demonstrate INTEGRITY. Trustworthy leaders chose courage over comfort, and choose right over what is fun, fast or easy.  Integrity is choosing to practice values over merely professing them.

Practice NONJUDGMENT. Those who lead with trust create an environment in which each person can ask for and discuss what they need without the fear of judgment.

Share GENEROSITY. Trustworthy leaders extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intention, words, and actions of others.

In your experience, what additional leadership behaviors build a trust environment within the team? Log on and join the conversation at www.somc.org/leadership.  We learn best from each other’s experiences.

1 Response

stewartk February 24th, 2020

Does resolved conflict help to build and sustain trust? Can real trust exist before it has been tested? What role does truth-telling play in building trust between leaders and followers? Do we naturally trust the people in our tribe and naturally distrust those in other tribes?


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