In today’s world, the words “trust” and “leadership” don’t seem to coincide easily. Media fills us with an incessant barrage of reminders that cause us to believe those two words actually contradict each other. Those who hold power within organizations find their efforts to lead increasingly futile.
Joel Peterson, a Robert L. Joss Consulting Professor of Management at Stanford Graduate School of Business implies that the reason many leadership attempts eventually fail can be attributed to a lack of trust. “Trust is more powerful than power itself,” he remarked in a recent article. Thus whether your title is CEO, HR Director, or Sales Manager, your power as a leader does not lie in the position itself, but in your ability to build trust with those around you.
In a recent article for Forbes, writer Jacob Morgan commented, “Trust is important not just in our personal lives but also in the workplace. If employees don’t trust each other or their managers then all sorts of problems start to arise: collaboration and communication stagnate, innovation ceases, employee engagement declines, productivity falls, and in general the workplace becomes unsuitable to be around.”
In order to build trust, Arbinger’s work teaches that we must start with valuing the opinions and objectives of those around us as much as we value our own. Peterson suggests that this kind of behavior enables people to thrive as it supports innovation, flexibility, and collaboration. As ideas are shared, validated, and put into action, workplace trust increases dramatically.
Peterson also states that “clear accountability is a necessary feature of a high-trust culture.” True accountability allows leaders, coworkers, and other members of the organization to create a space of complete honesty. As leaders hold themselves accountable to their employees for their own work, trust deepens and employees are motivated to do the same. One of Arbinger’s newest trainings, Outward Mindset Skills For Leaders, helps leaders shift from struggling to hold people accountable to helping them develop accountable employees.
Whether you are a brand new project manager or a CEO, remember the power of your position is founded in the trust you build with your team. As you strive to value one another and hold each other accountable, the trust you gain will enable unlimited space for innovation, collaboration, and success as a leader.