We know that trust is fundamental in any relationship. Without a foundation of trust, we are never going to be comfortable to fully commit. We will remain defensive, we’ll hold back for fear of being let down.
So how do we go about building trust in organizations?
Everyone has a role to play, people can build trust, or they can erode trust. Trust is a dynamic phenomenon, it fluctuates, often in the dynamics of one conversation.
The classic trust-building activities are being honest, open, and having integrity. It helps people center themselves on certain principles, which promotes consistency in the way we show up.
So far so good, but what does integrity really mean? For me, integrity is firstly keeping the promises you make to yourself, and then to others. It’s the foundation for trust to take hold.
When we act with integrity, we become reliable, dependable. People can count on us.
Leaders have a crucial role in extending trust. Too many organizations demand that their employees trust the leaders without the leaders first extending the trust. Leaders can extend trust by acting with compassion and with empathy. By being prepared to share their own vulnerabilities they create a climate of trust for other people to do so.
If Leaders can set the tone and create the environment for this to happen, high levels of trust become the norm. The great thing is that the trust-building actions can all be applied immediately, even in the next conversation. Organizations powered by trust are safer and more effective.
To build an organization powered by trust, leaders must first extend trust.
Measures of Success
What does success look like to you? How does your organization measure success?
Traditionally many organizations have measured success in purely financial terms.
The bottom line has reigned supreme. Everything else has proved secondary to the goal of maximizing profit and/or shareholder value. The very people who create value in organizations can become collateral in this process.
Business need not be a zero-sum game like this. Zero-sum games are by their nature, unsustainable. So many organizations adopt a survival of the fittest mentality, you sink or swim. It is a dog-eat-dog worldview.
Having such a narrow perspective of success inevitably creates winners and losers. When we say losers, I mean huge losses in human potential and wellbeing. It’s not just the business that loses, the whole of society does.
What if we were to have a more holistic view of success, one which represented healthy financials for the organization and its people?
This would represent a more sustainable and responsible approach. What if success balanced the need for healthy profits whilst also measuring success through the wellbeing impact on people and the wider planet?
There are some encouraging moves towards more sustainable and ethical business practices, they need to be accelerated. Some pioneering organizations have reimagined what success looks like, they have proved you can achieve healthy financial results whilst also treating people superbly. It is the best pathway towards a healthy future for business and the wider world.