By Barb Ward
It can be difficult to trust anyone these days. It seems that every time you turn around you are bombarded with conflicting information about pandemic safety recommendations, restrictions, and statistics, inconsistent vaccine information, and story after story from sensationalized news media. It can all be so overwhelming. You may find yourself thinking, I can’t trust anyone anymore!
But trust is the cornerstone of our being – both personally and professionally. We are social beings; we need interactions and relationships with others to make us whole. And lack of trust erodes relationships. Whether it is with family, friends, or co-workers, you cannot build a strong foundation without trust. And, let’s be honest, are you really willing to invest your time in someone or something that has no faith in you? Who can’t be vulnerable with you? Who simply does not trust you to do what you say you will do without having to monitor you? The answer is a resounding no.
If you can’t learn to trust others, you are doomed to a life of disappointment and loneliness. But childlike trust, which sounds so great, can lead you down the wrong path. To make good choices, you have to use critical thought and experience to weigh the risks versus the benefits of extending trust to someone. This is important to protect yourself and your loved ones in your personal life, and it is also especially important for leaders who must build trusting relationships to be successful.
Here are a few key criteria to consider when determining how, when and who to trust:
Competence. Do they have the knowledge, skills, ability, and competency? Will they meet expectations including expertise, sound judgement, and problem-solving?
Integrity. Do they adhere to the values and principles that you share? Are they honest and truthful? Do they do the right thing? Do they communicate with transparency?
Consistency. Are they reliable and true to their word? Do they provide accurate, credible information? Do they honor commitments? Do they “walk the talk”? Are they truthful?
Connection. Do you perceive positive intentions or motives towards you? Is there openness, compassion, and connection between you? Do you feel that they care about your best interests and your welfare? Are they close enough to want the best for you?
Additionally, to be a leader who is adept at building trust in a work environment, you need to be able to demonstrate the following abilities:
- Create a safe, supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect
- Show genuine concern for the other person’s welfare and future
- Continuously demonstrate personal integrity, honesty, and sincerity
- Establish clear agreements and keeps promises
- Demonstrate respect for the other person’s perceptions, learning styles, and personal being
- Provide ongoing support for and champions new behaviors and actions, including those involving risk-taking, fear of failure or sensitive new areas
Learning to trust is not easy and building a culture of trust can be downright daunting. But both are essential skills that will be worth the investment, for you, for your team members, and for your organization. Not only will you be surrounded with people who trust you, and that you also find trustworthy, but you will build an environment that fosters productivity, inclusivity, and innovation. And isn’t that a place you’d like to work?