The Basic Four of Leadership: # 3 – Trust

The moment a leader recognizes someone on their team for a contribution, the trust meter shoots off the scale.

 – Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

A 200,000-person study by the Jackson Organization confirmed that managers who achieve enhanced business results are significantly more likely to be seen by their employees as strong in the Basic Four areas of leadership:

  • Goal Setting
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Accountability

Authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton used that study as a foundation in their book The Carrot Principle, adding on the accelerator of frequent and effective recognition to illustrate that the relationship between recognition and improved business results is both highly predictable and proven to work.

As in all good things, you must start with the basics.

Building Trust

Trust is often viewed as more of an interpersonal quality than a leadership skill. That’s a mistake, since it turns out that trust is a central concept in organizational health and growth.

In an organization where leaders are trusted, there is a greater level of team investment. When an employee believes a manager has his best interest at heart, it motivates him to give his bet to his work and the organization, which creates overall higher commitment.

Louis Barnes, professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, describes the trust phenomenon as the theory of reciprocity: in short, people respond in kind to the way they are treated. For leaders who want to build trust within their organization, this means respecting and listening to team members, treating them fairly, and worrying about the success of their team more than their own success.

A leader who is trusted displays the following characteristics:

  • Publicly owning up to his mistakes
  • Keeping her word and commitments
  • Surrounding himself with people who can be trusted
  • Consistently taking the high road
  • Refusing to participate in any level of deception
  • Actively contributing to the positive reputation of the organization

This is an impressive list of qualities – maybe even a little intimidating! A good place to start the process of building trust is by becoming more visible to your team. Experience has shown that the single act of getting out of your office and mingling with team members is a simple solution to a very common trust problem.

Trusting relationships with your team can begin with leaders’ being more visible and available. It’s a place to start – something that will be noticed and appreciated by the people on your team.

Next: Accountability

Adapted from The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Part 4 of a series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


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