It seems like almost daily there’s a story in the news illustrating the widening gap of trust in this country. We’ve lost trust in our national and local governments, the military, law enforcement, the court system, schools, banks, businesses, even our churches.
In essence, we’ve lost trust in the leaders of those organizations.
An environment devoid of trust fosters defensive, suspicious, insular and fearful behavior, which depletes organizational energy and destroys creativity. A lack of trust imposes a burden of higher monitoring and legal costs. It makes companies sluggish, unresponsive, and uncaring. It sows the seeds for the eventual destruction of the organization.
Building trust requires constant, authentic communication. Communication is not just about words; it is also based on actions. Every action communicates something to the people in an organization. Too many companies say one thing and do another, breeding deep cynicism among its people over time.
A few weeks ago I spoke to Dan Rockwell, the “Leadership Freak.” At one point, I said something we teach through Barry-Wehmiller University and the BW Leadership Institute (now Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute, read more here): To get trust, you have to freely give it. Leaders must start by trusting their people to use their own judgment and follow their own instincts rather than controlling them with too many directives and rules. High-trust businesses are built on respect and caring, not fear and anxiety.
The way Barry-Wehmiller teaches trust fascinated Dan. He even wrote a blog post about it. So we reached out to Dan and asked if he’d like to have a discussion about trust with Sara Hannah and Matt Whiat of the BW Leadership Institute.
We recorded that discussion for the Everybody Matters podcast. Hopefully it will help you view trust in a new way.
Is trust something you freely give or must those within your sphere of influence earn it?