In many organizations there is an aura around the leadership persona that the leader should be slightly distanced from the social connections that make a cohesive workplace. The thought is that the outsider position allows the leader to objectively review employee contributions to fulfilling workplace needs. This distance can disrupt one of the most basic social mechanisms – trust. You trust your doctor, you trust your friends, you trust your family to be proactive in counseling you and supporting you to make good choices. Your trust of them has been built through a history of interactions. While moving about in your daily life you trust complete strangers to make decisions that benefit you like their paying attention while driving. Likewise, your trust in strangers’ behavior has been built through a history of everyday, mundane interactions.
Trust reduces the negative and resource-draining energy of anxiety; it just makes life flow more smoothly. But, in that slightly distant, decision maker position of leadership, sometimes you are lulled into believing that executing good decisions builds the trust. Compare that though to everyday life; in everyday life we build trust through everyday simple actions. In his blog in Forbes Magazine, Glenn Llopis gives six ways for employees to detect a trustworthy boss. These suggestions are also six ways that you can become a trustworthy boss through your everyday actions that employees. These ways are no different from the ways that you develop trust in your close relationships in your personal life. Namely, you build those relationships through honest conversation, support, consistency and investment.
Llopis states that a trustworthy boss is one who expects and encourages open dialogue. This means that the boss is willing to listen to advice and questions as much as giving advice and questioning decisions. Next, everyone’s opinion is equal. This means that honest communication from the intern is respected just as much as honest communication from the upper management. Thirdly, an honest boss supports innovative, well-intentioned risk taking. With your child, you believe that risk taking will increase his or her understanding of the world and will benefit his or her maturation. With your employees, you can believe that risk-taking can benefit understanding of the goals of the organization and lead to maturation of the whole organization. Fourthly, you want your friends to become successful. Your friends trust that you believe in their success. Your employees need to trust that you believe in their success as well. Also, with your close relationships you spend time cultivating the relationships and your friends know that your investment is for the long term. Likewise, your employees want you to make long-term investments in their relationship to you. The investments are simple acts like learning about hobbies or even saying “Good morning.” The small acts build upon one another to solidify relationships. Finally, trust is about consistency. You feel free to relate to your circle of close support because you know they are consistent in how they respond to you. Your employees want to know that you will be consistent in your honesty, encouragement, support and investment.
Workplace relations are no different from relationships that make our community lives and personal lives secure. Trust is the first step in building the security as well as the first step in building the integral environment at the place we are spending one third of our lives. And we, as leaders, can build that security, that integral environment in our workplace the same way as we build it in our lives – treating our teams as our family members.