Trust, the Deep Rudder of Leadership

By Ann Elliott

Others disappoint us when they break a promise or fail to honor their word.  Enough broken promises and distrust sets in.  When this happens, your focus shifts to staying afloat and out of troubled waters instead of excellence and serving the customer, employee or community. You and/or your business can dig a deep hole of mistrust in one fell swoop or with an accumulation of small actions. Regardless of how you get into a hole of mistrust, it takes a LONG time of consistent, trustworthy action to get out of the hole.  In come cases, the damage is never repaired. ship I worked on a team with Glenn (not his real name) who was quick to volunteer for almost anything that needed to be done. Glenn’s “I got it” could mean a half done assignment or a complete omission.  Either way he couldn’t be trusted.  He was likable.  He was not reliable.  Since I didn’t have the authority to “redirect his career,” I found ways to work around him.  I did not put my credibility and reputation in his hands either inside the organization or outside with client relationships by relying on him to keep a promise. As Dr. Steven Covey puts it in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “You can’t talk your way out of what you behaved yourself into.”  Trust is based on action not talk. Working around Glenn was inefficient and frustrating for me and others on the team. Wikipedia defines trust as “a prediction of reliance on an action based on what a party knows about the other party.” The article goes on to say that forgiveness is easier if the failure is from incompetence instead of dishonesty or maliciousness. If you want to accomplish anything, you rely on others. You trust others to fulfill the responsibilities of a particular role in your organization or your city.  Others depend on you to hold up your end of the bargain, too. Can you imagine doing your own root canal or building your own computer?  Imagine what  your business would look like if you had to deliver every piece of mail to the recipient instead of trusting the postal service to do it? The more efficient path is to develop trust within your organization and with your customers and maintain it.  Sustaining trust is an easier course than repairing it. If you intend to build and work in an organization that has a high level of trust, the action starts with you. Be trustworthy and create an environment where confidence, reliability and trust are the norm. Ten advantages of a trust based business: 1.  Teams make decisions easily and quickly 2.  An inverse relationship exists between trust and control 3.  Change is easier to implement 4.  Bad news is accepted 5.  Creativity is at a high level 6.  Vulnerability is appreciated 7.  Accountability is normal 8.  Misfits leave on their own 9.  Risk is tolerated 10. Transparency replaces secrecy Trust is a guiding principle of leadership. With a foundation of trust, you make better decisions and take wiser risks. Trust, like the rudder on a vessel, allows changing direction while in motion. You and your business confidently and smoothly expand to serve your customers, your community and each other. © 2007 Ann Elliott All rights reserved

Share this resource

Ann Elliott

Ann Elliott, founder of The Berkana Company, excels at leadership strategy

An expert at helping business leaders enjoy more profits and improved productivity with less stress, she blends fun and excitement with executive coaching and training to yield results for her clients.

More about Ann

Subscribe for more resources