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Trust Me

Optimize Blog - January 28, 2013 - 0 comments

As the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) draws to a close in Davos, the world outside has delivered a harsh message to government leaders and captains of industry.
It appears that in general, ordinary people do not trust their leaders. According to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, the world’s leaders are less trusted than they were a year ago.
The research work surveyed more than 31,000 respondents in 26 markets around the world and measured their trust in institutions, industries and leaders. “It is a natural result of people’s disappointment during a year of many scandals,” says Edelman’s chief executive, Richard Edelman, in an interview with BBC News.
Leaders can no longer rely on getting credibility solely because of their positions or their titles, he says. “In fact, you could argue the opposite” Edelman reasons, “that chief executives are constrained by their position – that it constrains their ability to tell the truth”.
That seems to be the view of many ordinary people questioned by Edelman. More than four out of five of the general public would expect a business leader to lie when confronted with a difficult issue, according to the PR firm’s trust barometer.
The lack of trust in leaders is rather worrying and it seems that the public regard the issue as being with individuals in charge of the institutions, rather than with the institutions themselves.
To rebuild trust, leaders must redefine their organizations’ objectives, Mr. Edelman insists. They must do more to include and involve both staff and other stakeholders in decision making, and they must open up and explain what they do and why they do it that way. “If people don’t understand what you do, they’ll assume the worst,” he says.
According to Steven Covey developing ‘trust’ is something that takes an investment of effort but, equally, it is clearly something we as leaders should aspire to. A more formal definition of trust is “The reliance on another person’s integrity, strength and sureness”. So, building trust is hard work, it takes effort and an understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Consistently doing the right thing builds trust.
Patrick Lencioni, as described in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, asserts that the pre-requisite foundation block for teams to operate effectively and at the highest possible level is ‘establishing an atmosphere of trust’. Creating this atmosphere of trust is the leader’s accountability and we need to have a ‘trust building strategy’.
If you do not trust your colleagues, peers or manager it simply will not work and even if you get lucky in the short term, it is not sustainable.
Trust is an essential value that we all need to demonstrate if we are to achieve our goal of high performing teams. Without trust in our colleagues, our support teams and key stakeholders we cannot have truly team-focused goals. Without trust we cannot effectively challenge each other in a respectful manner but with trust we can accept challenge as a positive thing and maintain the subject matter as work not personal.
Having trust allows us to work on the basis of ‘no surprises’. It allows us to be able to bring bad news to the table in the certainty that our focus is not to apportion blame but rather to get a resolution to the issue and learn from what has happened.
Trust must be developed, nurtured and sustained. Look at your calendar now and review how much time you spend on activities that actually build the trust vertically and horizontally. Review your day and consider where you have built and gained trust and perhaps where you have eroded or even destroyed trust.

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