• Priya Venkatesan

The Trust Conundrum


I am a credible leader. I do everything in my capacity to run my organisation well. Inspite of that I sense a "willingness gap". Something tells me, the team does not fully trust me. What can I do to be better?

Most of us like to be trusted. 'Being Trust-worthy' is one of the important qualities of being a great leader.

When we look at multiple teams not performing to their full potential, there seems to be a trust deficit with the leader and vice versa. It's not that there is no intention to build trust. However there is a lack of conscious understanding of all the sub parts that lead to overall trust.


In their book, "The Trusted Advisor", the authors David H. Maister, Charles H. Green & Robert M. Golford talk about Trust as a function:


T = C + R + I
   ----------
	    S

Where

  • T= Trust

  • C=Credibility (Words)

  • R=Reliability (Actions)

  • I=Intimacy (Safety)

  • S=Self-orientation (Self focussed Vs Other focussed)

While most trust building exercises focus more on Credibility (building skillset, experience, etc), not much attention is paid to the remaining 3 aspects of trust.


  1. Reliability

You can have a great pedigree and come with good credibility. However if you do not walk your talk, its hard for people to trust you.


Actions need to be aligned with intentions & speech. A disconnect among the above three aspects would come across as an integrity deficit which later impacts trust.


It's also important for the leader to be a role model for the team to follow in-terms of behaviour.

Consistency is key.


Understanding team's needs and adapting to the context will go a long way in tilting reliability into your favour.









2. Intimacy / Safety


Psychological safety cannot be emphasised enough for building trust.


If the team feels that they will get penalised for telling the truth, they are not going to give constructive feedback to the leader.


When bad news reaches last to the leader, there is a huge amount of fire-fighting and heart burn.


Empathy, connectedness and listening are key skills to be cultivated.



3. Self-orientation


Leadership is about service and not self aggrandisment.


If your interests are vested in yourself, the team will see through this.


Let the orientation be towards the success of the collective than any individual.


Be willing to consider a "Yes" when your own interests dictate a "No" and vice versa.


Be a fan. Be a challenger. Be the person who your team needs leadership from.






What helps you create a trusting environment for your teams?


#executivecoaching #coaching #leadershipcoaching #trust

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