Builds Trust


Builds trust – Has a deeply held sense of purpose and is able to share power in a way that supports citizens and others to create the best conditions for people to thrive.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”- Steven Covy

What’s trust got to do with it?

“Everything is based on trust” – David Horsager believes trust is the most important leadership quality…and his research says that every time trust increases in an organisation or a team then every other performance measure improves too!

Steven Covy talks about trust, or rather lack of it as a tax

When we have high levels of trust it is like having an organisational “dividend”, a performance multiplier that allows us to connect and communicate better, to have more positive interactions, to make decisions more easily and to move with incredible speed.

Without trust we have what amounts to a performance tax that we have to constantly pay. Every activity we undertake falls under the shadow of this tax, it slows us down, drains our energy, makes us work harder for no extra benefit.

We spend time putting tax paying systems in place rather than doing work (what percentage of our policies are in place because we don’t trust people?) and the people that work for us spend more time covering their backs and abdicating responsibility.

So how do we build trust as leaders?

It isn’t simple because trust is in the eye of the beholder, so we can try and exhibit all the right stuff and still not be trusted. It is also a complex construct that includes elements of relationships and character.

We can trust and yet not be trusted and vice versa. There are lots of models, some will speak more clearly to us than others.

Here’s a few to get you thinking:

5 aspects of trust

  • Openness – do you share information freely or do you keep some to yourself?
  • Honesty – are you authentic and do you act with integrity?
  • Reliability – Can you be counted on?
  • Competence – Do you have the skill and knowledge to do what you are doing?
  • Benevolence – Are you here for our interests or yours?

Brene Brown talks on the power of vulnerability.

The trusted Leader

Steven Covy, typically pragmatic, breaks down what a trusted leader should pay attention to even further:

  1. Talk Straight
  2. Demonstrate Respect
  3. Create Transparency
  4. Right Wrongs
  5. Show Loyalty
  6. Deliver Results
  7. Get Better
  8. Confront Reality
  9. Clarify Expectation
  10. Practice Accountability
  11. Listen First
  12. Keep Commitments
  13. Extend Trust

The 8 pillars of trust

David Horsager has his 8 Pillars of Trust

  1. Clarity
  2. Compassion
  3. Character
  4. Contribution
  5. Competence
  6. Connection
  7. Commitment
  8. Consistency

And there are many more models of trust and leadership, each can prompt personal inquiry and self exploration as to how we trust and how we are trusted.

Building trust in tough times

So what about the world beyond the public sector? David Sachs Co-founder and ex CEO of Yammer, recently took over as CEO at Zenefits. It’s probably as far from Public Sector as you can get and he took over at a bit of a troubled time.

His opening letter to the organisation is a really interesting approach to building trust during tough times:

Sachs does 3 things

  • He is really honest
  • He is clear about the culture and values he wants
  • He finds a clear purpose and meaning for the organisation to rally behind

How do great leaders inspire purpose?

Do you know why you do what you do? I’m sure you can tell me what you do, and probably how you go about it, but Simon Sinek pushes us further and reminds us that great leaders don’t just say, “I have a plan” they say, “I have a dream”. Having a clear purpose is inspiring and inspires purpose in others.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” – Simon Sinek

Further resources

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