Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Six Ways You Can Destroy Trust and Credibility

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Leaders can be so caught up in the flurry of daily tasks and activities that they easily stumble into many pitfalls resulting in broken trusts with and betrayals of employees. Many of these actions are inadvertent, yet consequences can compound over time as unresolved conflicts build in employees’ minds.

The desire for building trust is an attitude that leaders either have or must develop if they wish to be successful. It is an essential building block of leadership. If leaders are unable to nurture a workplace grounded in an appreciation for the power of trust, instead of lead they will only be able to manage and direct using fear as the primary motivator.

This is important for leaders to appreciate because of the ease in which they can stumble into past management practices that undermine rather than cultivate employee trust. It may take time and effort to foster a personal attitude of trust, but when leaders do they will find their employees more effective, cooperative and productive. The alternative is an atmosphere of mistrust and betrayal where continual conflict, ineffectiveness and quality problems reign—and worsen over time.

Many leaders can easily stumble into a myriad of pitfalls and practices that undermine their ability to build and foster trust with their employees. The stress and demands of daily work make it easy for a leader to overlook many of their actions without understanding their attendant consequences. These can include:

Inconsistency

When leaders are reactive rather than proactive, they are often inconsistent in their actions. A decision made in reaction to a specific event or circumstance can be inconsistent with a similar decision made at another time. While both may seem logical at the time, this inconsistency creates a sense of mistrust in employees since they have little or no idea what to expect from the leader’s behavior.

Other inconsistencies occur when leaders show favoritism toward one employee over another. Employees don’t feel they are treated fairly and, consequently, will not trust the leader’s judgment.

Reluctance to Share Information

Many managers and leaders are reluctant to share facts and figures with their employees because they feel unable to trust them with the information. This attitude clearly and completely sets the tone in the organization. If a leader shares information freely, he or she will find that employees will in turn begin to share information with them. This builds an atmosphere of mutual trust and open communication.

The leader reluctant to trust employees with information shuts down this critical two-way communication and limits the organization’s ability to grow and adapt to change.

Lack of Personal Trust

Leaders must learn to trust their own personal judgment and competency. They must accept that they will make mistakes, be willing to learn from them, and move on.

As leaders face a daily barrage of information, feedback and data, they must learn to take time out of the day to do nothing but “let the dust settle.” This enables them to see things more clearly and in their entirety, to identify what needs to be done, and as time spent with employees is usually more important than any other item on the agenda, where time needs to be spent in order to build trust.

Lack of Open Dialogue

Building or rebuilding trust among employees is one of the biggest challenges leaders face. Downsizing and mergers have taken a toll on workplace trust, making employees more territorial wondering if they need to work to protect their jobs. Leaders must acknowledge these fears and anxieties and open a dialogue allowing employees to vent their fears and anxieties.

Refusal to Deal with the Past

Many leaders feel that the past events and circumstances that may have caused employees to feel betrayed are just that—in the past, and should be ignored. Yet it is a clear mistake to ignore these unresolved conflicts, as they will continue to fester and undermine any efforts to reestablish trust.

As leaders open a dialogue with employees, these issues should be allowed to surface and be dealt with. While it is true that the past cannot be changed, these personal feelings must be resolved before trust can be truly established.

Lack of Clarity of Beliefs and Values

In the heat of organizational change, the beliefs and values of the organization can get lost or muddled. Leaders must take the time to clarify fundamental beliefs and translate them into commonly held and agreed upon values. This allows leaders to align their organization with the company’s values and beliefs.

Excerpt: Building & Nurturing Trust in the Workplace: The Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011) $ 16.95 USD

If you would like to learn more about trust building techniques, refer to Building & Nurturing Trust in the Workplace: The Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz All Rights Reserved

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Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

August 18, 2011 at 10:01 am

3 Responses

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  1. Good points

    hotshot bald cop

    September 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm

  2. […] Related: Six Ways to Destroy Trust and Credibility […]

  3. […] Six Ways You Can Destroy Trust and Credibility […]


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