Don’t Burn Down the Forest!
Dr. Fred Johnson | 8/17/2015 7:17:24 PM
“Trust is like a forest. It takes a long time to grow and can burn down with just a touch of carelessness.” – David Horsager
Leaders play a key role in each company; that is why companies work hard to find the best fit for their culture and employees when hiring new leaders. One of the most important qualities for leaders to have and to develop with their employees is trust.
Without the ability to build trust with employees, leaders will not work well with the team and will be unable to truly make an impact in the company.
5 Categories of Trust
This is the lowest possible level of trust an employee or company can have for a leader – completely based off of the title or position a leader has.
This trust is based off of the leader’s personality – an employee will trust the leader if they like them.
Trial & Error Trust
Results are the factors that determine this level – if the results of the leader’s actions are good, trust is high.
Authentic trust is based on the credibility of the leader – leaders need to want to continue to build trust to maintain this level.
This is the highest level of trust employees will have for a leader – integrity and long-term leadership is key to gain and maintain unbreakable trust.
Where each leader rests in these categories varies with each relationship. If a leader has unbreakable trust with one person but token trust with everyone else in the company, they most likely are not highly trusted within the company.
It can also vary based on positions. If you hold various titles and roles, you may be highly trusted by those you work with in one position, but only have token trust with those you lead in another position.
You need to make sure everyone you work with trusts you – maybe not all at exactly the same level, but your organization’s opinion of your trustworthiness is probably only about the average of each individual’s opinion.
“As you go to work, your top responsibility should be to build trust.” – Robert Eckert, CEO, Mattel
That probably sounds like a lot of work – it is. It is a nonstop, everyday activity that can only truly happen through proactive communication and relationship building. Putting time and effort into building trust with your employees will make you a better leader and develop a better culture within your organization.
Leadership today does not depend on the hierarchy or power. As you can see from our leadership levels, having a title will get you the lowest possible leadership status. Trust no longer comes with a promotion or the name plaque on the door; leaders must earn the trust of their team.
Power is based in trust. If you can get your employees to trust you, you will have power over them. You will be able to convince them of your opinions and get them to agree with your actions. You will need to build relationships with your employees in order to build trust.
Ways you can build trust with your employees include:
Keep your promises
Be willing to help
Treat employees as individuals
Make it easy for employees to work with you
Every time you help your employees or keep a promise, their opinion of your credibility and integrity rise, making you a more trustworthy leader.
Studies have shown that only 49% of employees trust senior management, and only 28% believe CEOs are a credible source of information. As Stephen Covey puts it, “When trust is low . . . every communication, every interaction, every strategy, every decision is taxed, bringing speed down and sending costs up.”
Without having trust in your organization and those you lead, you are probably wasting time and losing money. In order to have a more productive and healthy workplace, you need to trust your employees and they need to be able to trust you.
As a leader, one of the best things you can do for your company is develop a high level of trustworthiness. Employees feel more comfortable and respected if they know their leader trusts them and is trustworthy.
InitiativeOne offers a variety of courses and seminars that relate to trust and improving an organization’s culture. Please visit the website to learn more about the various offerings we have that could change you and your organization’s leadership.
Stephen Covey’s The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything is a good source to learn more about trust and the impacts it has for everyone both personally and professionally.