The consequences of distrust are significant. It increases employees turnover and employees don’t volunteer ideas like they should, question every single move of the leader, undermine his or her decisions.
Nobody wants to go to work where they constantly have to look behind their shoulder, where they cannot share knowledge freely, where they cannot speak up in meetings, where they have to watch their every single word.
We end up losing confidence in yourself, not wanting to contribute at work, preserving ourselves, acting against our core values, lacking energy, refusing to invest in people, felling alone and always on the look out.
Wondering how to build or repair trust in leadership and in the workplace?
What is trust?
Trust is an emotional bond, a connection between two people who is developed through repeated interactions and that provides comfort and stability. It is the foundation of all relationships and according to Patrick Lencioni, in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team it is the most important factor in team cohesion.
Furthermore, trust is reciprocal, subjective, takes time to build but can be destroyed in a matter of seconds. It is not granted by a title nor by a position but is necessary to work and to share knowledge. Trust is empowering, improves overall employees motivation, productivity, wellbeing in the workplace and corporate culture.
Trust is detrimental to leadership because leaders have the power to make decisions that can impact their team and their livelihood.
Detecting and understanding untrustworthy leaders
Trustworthy leaders drive success, put employees at ease, have their employees best interest at heart. Trustworthy leaders care about their own contributions, about the impact of their decision, about their people and regularly show appreciation. They are fair and respectful, are credible and communicate openly.
Nevertheless, some leaders exhibit negative behaviors that make them seem untrustworthy. Because, trust is subjective and because followers model these behavior, it is compulsory that leaders identify what they are doing wrong and immediately correct themselves.
Below are different scenarios where leaders are perceived to be untrustworthy and the respective explanation to their behavior.
Some leaders are naturally reserved and secretive. Unfortunately, they come off as being snobs, defensive, or as having a personal agenda. People generally think the worst when they don’t know what their leader is thinking.
Some leaders speak very little because they either believe that the topic doesn’t deserve much conversation, don’t enjoy speaking, don’t feel the need to explain themselves or they are unable to put their thoughts into words.
Some leaders adapt their response to their audience and come off as being disingenuous. For example, they would talk frankly in front of their team and sugarcoat things in front of the hierarchy.
Some leaders are self-serving and don’t care about their employees. They don’t demonstrate respect for their team and can easily step over them.
Some leaders are arrogant. They feel superior to others all while being insecure, they lack humility and self-awareness, they are unwilling to learn and to grow.
Some leaders blatantly lie. In some toxic companies, lying is seen as a strength. But this strength is short-termed and create distrust amongst employees.
Some leaders gossip about their own employees and their own organization. Because most employees are attempting to preserve their jobs, employees tend to fake their true feelings. However, leaders have difficulties noticing the impact of their negative behavior.
Some leaders are able to shift blame too easily and don’t take responsibility for their action. This leader is afraid of confronting themselves. This makes employees unwilling to take risks and to involve themselves in their job.
Some leaders play favorites, treat their employees unfairly, take credit for their work, disrespect them, isolate and scapegoat some employees and sabotage others.
Some leaders underperform or don’t come through on promises. People tend to dismiss those who overpromise and underperform, even if they are talented or competent.
Some leaders overreact to challenges and under high pressured situations, they give in too easily to their emotions.
How to build trust and maintain it in the workplace?
Placing trust in someone makes us vulnerable to that person who can use this vulnerability to their advantage. However, to create a healthy workplace, it is necessary for leaders to build trust within their team. To do so, you will have to:
- Trust yourself in order to make yourself feel confident, competent, to help yourself grow your relationships, to take risks and to face challenges.
- Develop your character and learnt to do what is right.
- Learn new skills and teach them to others.
- Create a safe workplace. Help others express themselves, their ideas, and vent their frustrations. Help employees achieve their goals. Give your employees room to grow their skills and self-esteem by offering them training and coaching.
- Appreciate people‘s capabilities and employ them for their strengths.
- Give trust to receive trust. However, beware of people who will take advantage of your eagerness to trust. Learn how to detect these toxic individuals and protect yourself from them.
- Actively listen to your team without speaking or emitting judgements.
- Be open and honest with important company information. Don’t shy away from the truth.
- Positively present your thoughts and ideas to your team.
- Involve your team in the decision-making process.
- Don’t allow communication to break down and don’t withhold any information from your team. misunderstandings are easily created and can decrease trust.
- Clarify your employees assignments, roles and measure their progress. For example, give your employees the necessary authority to accomplish their assignments and trust their decisions.
- Avoid gossiping like the plague. It may seem fun and you might enjoy the camaraderie but it is unprofessional and unethical. Respect what people have told you in confidence.
- Adopt consistent behaviors and expectations on a daily basis. Employees tend to trust leaders who are predictable, who represent the company’s values and missions.
- Admit mistakes, acknowledge negative situations and sincerely apologize if necessary. Take responsibility for your actions.
- Be reliable. Carry out promises and meet deadlines. Be careful of what you promise to others before you compromise your relationships.
- Give and accept constructive criticism to build long-lasting relationships.
- Forgive instead of seeking revenge and perpetuating distrustful behavior.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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