Several months ago, I conducted a webinar on trust in organizations. I boiled it down to what I see as key leadership behaviors. Yes, I first covered the basics of meeting people, eye contact, asking, listening, creating a safe environment to speak freely and so forth.
I then focused on what I see as key leadership behaviors like candor, timely transparency and leaders doing what they said they were going to do.
Now, this all implies that the senior leadership team has created an environment for these behaviors. If your organization is not an open and trusting environment, then the senior leadership team will not be successful and hear unfiltered feedback. Yes, people will still most frequently choose their words diplomatically and in good organizations that emanate from a spirit of diplomacy, not a fear to have your voice heard.
Over my career I have been able to tell when people in an organization are giving me real feedback versus holding something back, sugarcoating the response to my question or worse yet, not saying a word. Maybe it’s my years working with patients in private psychiatric hospitals regarding the intense focus on listening skills. Unfortunately, the skill of keen listening seems to be a forgotten skill set in some organizations.
If the lines of communication in all directions are not open, the organization is in trouble. It will only be a matter of time where that organization will begin hemorrhaging financial results, performance, employee turnover, etc.
The presence of these behaviors that I mention significantly increases organizational trust. Likewise, the absence of or inconsistent practice on these fronts will derail organizational trust in an instant. You will feel like you’ve slipped on ice and struggling just to stand up safely again let alone secure the belief of those people around you that you can remain standing on solid ground. The same dynamic applies to one-on-one relationships as well if you underestimate the importance of trust.
I linked below a brief article sent to me a few weeks ago by Jack Zenger published in the Harvard Business Review. He and Joseph Folkman share some of their research on what they see as their three elements of trust.
Stay tuned for future articles where I will go into more depth on candor and transparency including what to consider when improving these practices in your organization.
Take care, David Gallagher
Leadership By Design, LLC