"Leadership without mutual trust is a contradiction in terms."
- Warren Bennis, Organisational Consultant and Author
Life is about relationships. The healthy ones we nurture, the not-so-good ones we let fall by the wayside. There is a direct correlation between the quality of our lives and the quality of our relationships. This is no different in business.
Strong relationships between people and teams within an organisation hold the key to a winning culture and a climate for success. More often than not, a successful leader builds effective relationships and inspires others to follow suit – creating a ripple effect.
(As an aside, it’s important to note that leadership should be viewed as a mindset choice, regardless of your position within a company).
The million-dollar question… how do we create effective relationships?
Warren Bennis summaries this best in the quote at the start of this article. Trust. Trust is at the heart of relationships. For example, if you don’t trust a colleague it’ll undoubtedly have a negative impact on your working relationship. You won’t be getting 100% from your team if trust is not up front and centre. However, if trust is an ever-present within your relationships, it’s likely that people will want to work both for you and with you.
The 13 Behaviours of Trust
In his book ‘The Speed of Trust,’ Stephen M R Covey breaks trust into 13 behaviours which can be used as a guide when understanding how both trust and distrust can affect relationships. Therefore, it’s an excellent starting point when looking to improve trust and the quality of your relationships. Covey states the behaviours as below:
Creating Trust in 5 Minutes
Review the 13 behaviours of trust. Pick a behaviour that resonates and create an action to model more trust within a key relationship.
… in an Hour
Make a list of key working relationships and assign an action based on the 13 behaviours above that will demonstrate more trust with each person.
… for Long-Lasting Change
Building trust takes time. A one-off initiative will not likely lead to lasting change. Sustaining trust requires continued effort.
Find a feedback system – either informally or formally – that tracks areas of trust across important relationships. For example, set up a regular meeting with a trusted colleague to evaluate progress with honest feedback. Alternatively, invest in a professional - such as a coach - to hold you accountable for new behaviours that support the change process.
The Importance of Trust in the Workplace
Don’t assume that trust just happens. A global study of trust in the workplace by Ernst & Young in 2016 found that less than half of global professionals trust their employer, boss or team/colleagues.
It Starts With You
The responsibility of demonstrating trust starts with you. Inspiring and motivating is an integral part of leadership. When we honour trust, leading with integrity and authenticity comes automatically and with ease. Craig Weatherup, former CEO of PepsiCo, encapsulates this sentiment in the below quote.
"Trust cannot become a performance multiplier unless the leader is prepared to go first."
The Ripple Effect
Better relationships impact culture, which impacts talent retention and acquisition – essential for any business – as well as performance. There is also a knock-on effect with external parties, such as long-standing clients, new prospects and business partners.
Take time to nurture and appreciate the relationships that make a difference in your business. How does the level of trust currently stand within your company? What could you do to improve trust in a relationship today? Over to you…