Week #2: Untrusting Leaders


I adhere to the motto: Trust people until proven wrong. Trusting your team to work hard and to perform to the scope of their roles, and allowing them room to be innovative are critical to any businesses’ success.


A common mistake I see leaders make, one I made early in my career, is not trusting enough.  True, trust must be earned, but I have also found that there may be more than one approach to success, and even if someone on our team wants to  try another approach, I need to allow mistakes to happen for growth to occur. Plus, I have also been proven wrong at times and learned that if we focus on the outcome rather than the tactics of the approach (as long as the approach is consistent with our values), greater trust is a likely outcome. 


Another way I see leaders fail in “trusting others” is through unclear decision making processes that plague many organizations. When components of decision making such as who, how, and when are poorly defined, the result will be lack of clarity, a loss of urgency, decreasing trust, and a lack of accountability. I have always used the RACI model to clarify who is responsible for  each action in decision making (see “LOVE WORKS” (link to title).  R = who makes recommendations on the decision, A = who approves the decision, C= who consults on the decision, and I = who has to be informed of that decision.  I highly recommend you use the RACI model; although it may seem time consuming to go through the RACI process, it will expedite decision making, provide clarity, and build trust.    


Leadership consistency also builds trust. If our desire is to build a workplace culture that breeds integrity, respect, hard work, empathy, or kindness, but our actions don’t model such values, our employees won’t buy into the culture and will see there is no accountability for actions. Consistency builds trust in your business environment, yet nearly all of us fail at being consistent with our culture or a set of stated values.  If you make a mistake, admit it, and move forward.   Don’t deny and don’t blame others.  This authentic leadership modeling will build trust and  strengthen your organization’s culture. 


In summary, if you want to build trust on your team, let others do their jobs, clarify decision making, and lead consistently to your team’s stated values.