A Crisis of Trust

I was honored earlier in the year to have spoken at the Lessons On Integrity Breakfast Series on the topic of Trust: Your Leadership.  It’s always fun to speak to groups of business owners, entrepreneurs and executives, but when you speak about “trust” to a group at an “integrity breakfast” it’s a bit like preaching to the converted.

I was reminded of this presentation as I was reading through the advance questions submitted for our upcoming First Friday Breakthrough Call.  Perhaps you’ve noticed that skepticism and apathy among our workforce seems to be ever increasing.  I contend that we have A Crisis Of Trust in the US driven by the painful events of the first decade of this century: terrorist attacks of 9/11, corporate scandals, greed, globalization, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the recession, and technology changes that many do not understand. Trust indices around the world are declining: we don’t trust CEOs, we don’t trust accountants, we don’t trust religious leaders, we don’t trust lawyers, and we don’t trust politicians.

What we know, however, is that the environment in which leaders are operating today is significantly more complicated, and less predictable than in the past. It’s no wonder Time magazine named the first 10 years of this century The Decade From Hell.

As I was preparing for my talk on trust, I did what any good speaker does: I sought wise counsel from my friends…on Facebook and Twitter. My friend Greg Leith (we’re actually RL (real life) friends) shared this pearl of wisdom: “Without trust, the leader is simply a puppeteer who THINKS s/he is leading. Within a short time period, people who can, EXIT…and those who remain are simply being psuedo-controlled by a deluded leader.” Well put, Greg!

The truth is, trust directly impacts performance and profitability of every organization. When trust is low or absent, speed and efficiency go way down, and costs go way up. But, when trust goes up, speed and productivity goes up, and cost go down.  Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “Trust is like money. It’s tough to get and easy to lose.”  I would add that trust is at the heart of all great leadership, and without it leadership is impossible.

Effective leadership, productivity and team morale are in direct proportion to the level of trust found within an organization. As managers and leaders, our ability to convey trust plays a significant role in effectively leading others, and nothing impacts an organization’s productivity more than the level of trust found within it.

What can you do to build trust within your organization?

FLASHPOINTS: What You Don’t See With Your Eyes

What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth.

It’s likely we’ve all worked in environments where behind-the-back gossip is rife and sometimes raw. Just because it’s prevalent doesn’t make it right, or any easier to deal with. Here’s how simple office communication should be: we have a problem to discuss, or a comment to make, we go straight to the person it involves and address the issue. Although not as salacious or intriguing, it’s much easier to solve a problem when we go directly to the source…plus it protects morale, saves time and energy, and we avoid blowing things out of proportion. When you’re on the receiving end of gossip, it shows true fortitude and leadership to challenge opinions and deal only with the facts. How do you deal with gossip in your workplace?