A leader is a dealer in trust. It is through the actions of the leader that an organisation becomes a safe place to be –safe enough for team members to take risks and push the boat out. The team needs to know that the leader has their back. Only if they know this will they put themselves on the line, take tough decisions and push the limits of their creativity and innovation. In a safe environment, where team members are acting in unison, guided by a compelling vision, and supported by a trustworthy leader, people will drop their guard and suspend their need to cover their backs – only when this is true will they dig really deep and give their all. If they believe that they may be hung out to dry, they will inevitably play it safe – and sure fire guarantee of mediocrity.
When was the last time a really big idea came from your team? When was the last time your team challenged you or disagreed vigorously with you? Or do they play it safe and remain polite? Not a good sign. Without vigorous discussion and wrestling with challenges and ideas, nothing truly great will ever come from your team. The best you can expect is vanilla. It’s up to you.
When did your team last bring you bad news? How did you respond? Do you hear everything you need to hear or do you sometimes get nasty surprises? What have you done to contribute to distrust in the team? What have you done to make it safe to tell it like it is? It is up to you.
Creating an environment in which trust is implicit is incredibly challenging and the success of this rests on consistency. Let me know what impact these exercises have on establishing, building and increasing trust within your team.