Who Do You Trust Part II

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

In last week’s Resilient Wednesday, I shared a story of a manager who was unsure she could trust her team members who were working from home. I asked her how she would know, and she quickly realized that her thoughts were only half-baked but focused on her gut feelings.

As a leader, it is sometimes too easy to “go with our gut” to determine how other people behave. While intuition is an appropriate tool, it is far better to go with the evidence of which behaviors people are demonstrating. This is a crucial element of our book, Strategy Driven Leadership, which I co-wrote with my colleague, Michael Couch. Observing and evaluating behaviors provide the facts that serve as the determinant of a quality, like trust

So, what are some behaviors we’d like to see from a trustworthy person (not in order of preference):

  1. Keeps confidences: The behavior we seek in a person who keeps confidences is keeping their mouth shut around sensitive information. Confidential business strategies, work priority changes, and especially people and personnel issues where that person has been brought into the discussion because of their role as a leader or key driver of an initiative.
  2. Reliability: Trustworthy colleagues follow through with what they say and commit to doing. A necessary persuasion and influencing strategy is to ask people to make a statement that they understand and commit to engaging in and accomplishing a specific action. Reliable people will agree and then complete the task promptly and effectively.
  3. Honesty: One of the time-honored markers of trust is that you hear truthful statements from your team members. Honesty is not just about sharing factual information but also about acknowledging mistakes and errors and providing accurate updates and perspectives as projects progress. Folks are not hired just for what they do but also for what they think, and the value of honesty demands that thoughts and ideas are shared.

There are undoubtedly other “behaviors” that we look for in manifesting honesty, including collaboration and support, transparency, and integrity (where someone stands up for a value or belief they believe in following.)   As you can tell by examining these behaviors, tracking and monitoring whether a person engages in them is possible.

As we’ve  learned about the importance of trust in leadership and the behaviors that contribute to it, it’s time we all recommit to trust building. Whether you’re a leader or a team member, fostering trust is a responsibility we all share in creating a resilient and high-performing workplace. Here are three steps to take:

  1. Reflect on Your Behaviors: Take a moment to reflect on your own behaviors and assess how they contribute to building trust in your team. Are you keeping confidences, following through on commitments, and being honest in your interactions? Identify areas for improvement and commit to making positive changes.
  2. Lead by Example: As a leader, your actions have a significant impact on trust within your team. Lead by example and demonstrate the behaviors of a trustworthy individual. Show integrity, transparency, and collaboration in your daily interactions. Your team will take cues from your actions and follow suit.
  3. Foster Open Communication: Create an environment that encourages open and honest communication. Actively listen to your team members, provide feedback and support, and value their perspectives. By fostering a culture of trust and psychological safety, you empower your team to share ideas, raise concerns, and collaborate effectively.

Remember, building trust is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and attention. By taking these steps, you can contribute to a workplace where trust thrives, relationships flourish, and resilience strengthens. Together, let’s create a trust-centered culture that drives success.

In next week’s concluding session on “Who Do You Trust,” we’ll explore additional strategies and insights for fostering trust in our organizations. Stay tuned as we continue the journey towards becoming a trusted leader and  team member.

© Richard Citrin 2023

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