For those who benefitted from our Leadership training, you will remember that the first topic that was tackled was about “How can the leader create the conditions of trust towards him?” Without that trust, Leadership skills development has no strong foundation. Following are some more hints on that important issue.
Personal integrity is the foundation of trust in any organization. It’s the pervasive sense that people will do what they say they’re going to do, and that their actions consistently reflect their principles and character.
Integrity, then, is an internal cornerstone of trust. But leaders should also be looking to spur the outward growth of trust across an organization. The way to do that is by practicing the art of respect.
Leaders show and encourage respect when they empower team members, celebrate their contributions, and help them learn from missteps.
You’ll know you’ve got a high-trust organization when you find leaders showing respect to people at every level, especially those from whom they stand to gain the least. Do directors seek out feedback from people well outside their inner circle – and act on it? Do they remember colleagues’ names, and the names of their partners and children – not because they’ve memorized them to score points, but because they actually care?
With these ideas in mind, here are a few guidelines for creating an atmosphere of respect, where trust can grow and thrive.
1) Positive always beats negative. Steer clear of attacks, sniping. Going negative reveals a general lack of respect and self-control. Your culture will be better served by celebrating what your own team is doing than by tearing down others. If you talk behind someone’s back, your team will start to wonder what you’re saying about them when they’re not around. Honouring those not present is a good way to show respect for those who are.
2) Respect is an investment. Nothing yields greater returns in team coherence, employee satisfaction, and organizational momentum than advancing the best interests of the people you work with. Leaders know that as an organization’s reputation for respecting everyone expands, so will general trust levels. More trust means fewer politics and personal agendas – and without those, people are more productive, more satisfied, and more likely to come up with and execute new ideas.
3) Root out disrespect. Just as respect can be contagious, disrespect can be a contagion: once it breaks out in a few places, it can begin to spread. You can lose key team members and organizational stability. Vigilant leaders are always looking to nip disrespectful practices in the bud. That means no tolerance for talking behind people’s backs, letting problems fester, or failing to give people the feedback they need to improve.
4) Respect isn’t the same as being nice. Showing respect means far more than being polite or deferential. Indeed, disagreement is key to great decision-making, and people in high-trust organizations feel secure in their ability to disagree – in part because they know how to disagree with respect. There’s an art to expressing a contrary viewpoint without making it personal or petty. You can begin by stating, “If I understand what you’re saying…” and then describe the opposing viewpoint to that person’s satisfaction (he could often say it better than they had). Then you would continue, graciously, “But another way to look at this is…”