An interesting read from Giles who has recently joined us to deliver leadership training in Libya.
I am sure that this will resonate with all good leaders.
What does trust look and feel like at work?
Trust is a much cited and discussed attribute of good leadership. We kind of know that establishing trust is essential for strong relationships and effective teams. A quick Google search will find numerous hits citing ten ways to establish trust in the workplace and from a quick review they are all along the right lines. What is harder to find, however, is an answer to what does a trusting work relationship look and feel like? How do we know that we have trust in our working relationships?
So here is my personal take on what a trusting relationship looks and feels like based upon my current employment assignment. I have recently flown out to Tripoli, Libya, a country that the Foreign Office advises against travelling to owing to the ongoing instability there, to start an ill-defined consultancy and leadership facilitation role for a friend that I last worked with almost twenty years ago. That’s a leap of faith on my part. For Neil, his leap of faith is also significant. Given that I am a newly ‘minted’ independent consultant, coach and facilitator he’s trusting me to represent the best interests of his company on fulfilling an overseas contract, build his brand presence and hopefully generate additional business opportunities.
For both of us there is clearly a lot at stake and such an arrangement depends on a high level of mutual trust. Given that we had limited contact over the last two decades how can we account for respectively ‘having each other’s back’? Well, for one, we both worked in an institution with very clearly defined and ‘lived’ values and behaviours that built trust between individuals and teams. Secondly, we share common beliefs in the pursuit of developing human capital in others, especially in relation to leadership. Third, we have spent enough time together in the past to have established an enduring friendship. The frenetic communications in the run up to my assignment combined messaging, emails, video calls and a face to face meeting cemented the mutual trust that we both feel. It may sound a little ‘cheesy, but this encompassed our language, the expression of Neil’s genuine concern for my wellbeing, my earnest desire to succeed in the venture, and our non-verbal communication.
I consider myself lucky that in this situation all the elements for a trusting relationship are there – shared values, behaviours, beliefs and friendship – but nevertheless an organisation with a purpose and values and authentic leaders that take the time to get to know their employees can establish similar bonds of trust in their teams. Such levels of mutual trust enable a healthy organisation with every chance of being productive and successful in the pursuit of its vision and purpose and deal with setbacks on that journey.