It’s all down to trust

How much do people trust their leaders? And how much do leaders trust their people?

I came across this report recently and think it worth sharing more broadly.

It makes very interesting reading and reinforces every assertion made by those who are not ‘leaders’, i.e. that they {the leaders} never “walk the talk”.  What is interesting for me is that (despite my own prejudices about leaders and managers) the perceptions on both sides of the fence are probably skewed, e.g. “87% of leaders responded that they often or always apologise” {when handling mistakes} yet “only 19% of employees indicated leaders did so” {apologise}.  How can that be true?

One piece of learning I gained in the early part of my career was that individuals invest over 30 times more emotion in a negative event / statement from their bosses compared to praise or good behaviour.  This told me that as a leader I needed to make greater efforts to praise my people to build up the bank of emotion that was needed when something less positive needed to be discussed.  However, I also learned that praise without being specific as to why had little or no effect, it was just viewed as me being patronising.

The report has many pearls of wisdom which I’ll leave you to read but I would like to pose one question that the report doesn’t and that is “how much do leaders trust their subordinates and other employees?”  I ask this because so many leaders in organisations where I was either an employee or a consultant end up being “micro-managers” and it’s often down to the fact that the leaders used to be the ‘led’ and feel that they can do a better job than their successors and/or the leaders fail to develop their subordinates to do the task as “it’s easier for me to do it than to spend time training others”, in other words they don’t trust their employees..

Just as the report says that leaders must been seen to act in the right way for employees to trust them it’s also true that for them to begin to trust their employees, those employees need to demonstrate to their bosses why they are trustworthy.  It works both ways and it needs both parties to break the cycle.

Main image credit: Dzul Ikram, flickr

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About the author

Dave Dyer

Dave Dyer is a principal consultant within the Operations Improvement team in ABB Consulting. His speciality is in bringing sustainable change and operational benefits to an organisation through the engagement of its people. He hopes to share good ideas and good practice, to inform and to learn.
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