Leading with Trust: Becoming the Leader Your People Deserve

by Molly Barnes
March 3, 2020

Trust is the foundation of employee engagement. According to Gallup, more than 60% of employees are disengaged. To be a great leader, especially in a family business setting, you must lead with trust – you owe that to your employees, your family, and your organization. Great leadership begins, continues, and ends with trust, and if it doesn’t, your relationships nor your organization will be successful.

The best way to learn to fully lead with trust is to craft your own strategy. On January 30, 150 Wisconsin Family Business Center members, sponsors, and guests learned how to lead with trust from Randy Conley, vice president and trust practice leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies.

How can you craft your own strategy? Focusing on the following areas will set you on the right path toward being the leader your employees deserve.

Trust Your Mission

You must begin by knowing where you’re going. Write your own personal mission statement and keep coming back to it throughout your career. If it needs revisions that’s okay, it will grow with you. List a few positive characteristics about yourself, how you behave and interact with others, and a brief statement that describes the impact you would like to have on others. Think of the values you hold and the people you look up to personally and professionally and use that as an example for who you want to be. What can your employees and team members expect from you as a leader? If you’re comfortable with it, share these with your team. Trust requires risk, so if you can show vulnerability to your team they will appreciate it and see it as sincerity.

Trust Yourself

In order to truly be trustworthy, you must trust yourself. Only you are in control of the behaviors you use, so have a common language of trust with yourself. Behave with trust in mind and display to others that they can earn your trust. Trust doesn’t just happen; it must be intentional, and it must start with you. Get to know yourself and your leadership strengths and weaknesses. Great leaders are always open to improvement and learning.

The benefits of trust far outweigh the costs of low trust. When there is no trust in the workplace, morale is down, participation and contributions are low, and no one is having fun. You physically will not be well either. You will be stressed out, absent minded, maybe even fearful. On the other hand, when everyone feels open and willing to trust, people are more innovative, engaged, and focused on growth and results. You must also remember that you cannot only think about trust when it is broken. If you mess up and trust is broken it can be rebuilt by acknowledging your mistakes, apologizing while sharing your hopes to rebuild trust, and taking action to actually move forward.

To build trust in your organization, you must start with yourself. Be open with yourself and with your team, live and work in a trusting manner, and stay positive – trust will follow. You can learn more about this topic in Ken Blanchard’s Trust Works!: Four Keys to Building Lasting Relationships, and be sure to register for the next Speaker Series event on Wednesday, March 18, Designing, Implementing and Harnessing an Effective Board for Your Family Business.