Trust as a leader

Image of a confident leader earning trust from team members through effective communication

Trust as a Leader

Throughout my upbringing, I often heard the adage, “Trust isn’t given; it’s earned.”

While I acknowledge the point, I also hold a different perspective on it. I concur with the notion that trust can be fragile and easily shattered. A single mistake can undermine all the trust that has been painstakingly built over time.

However, my disagreement stems from the necessity of trust for survival. Trust is an integral part of our daily lives; we rely on it when we venture into public spaces, trust our safety, or embark on routine activities like driving and relying on functional brakes. Similarly, trust plays a crucial role in professional settings, where we depend on the support of colleagues to collaborate effectively and achieve common goals.

Trust is undeniably one of life’s fundamental pillars, and it’s not solely about earning it—it’s also about extending it. Particularly for leaders, trust holds immense significance.

Reflect on past experiences under bosses lacking trust. How did it make you feel? Did it inspire motivation to go to work? Did you invest your full commitment and effort into tasks?

For me, the response is negative. When my boss lacked trust in me, I couldn’t perform at my optimal level because I felt my efforts would always fall short. Constant scrutiny of my actions hindered my ability to excel.

As a leader, if you don’t place trust in your team, you’re not maximizing their potential. While not everyone may relate to this, many will understand the impact of trust—or the lack thereof—on performance and morale.

As a parent, do you have faith in your children? When you assign them tasks, do you believe they will follow through?

Personally, I do. I have complete trust in my children’s efforts to accomplish tasks to the best of their abilities. While I acknowledge they may make mistakes and it may not be flawless, I recognize the importance of instilling trust in them. After all, what lesson am I imparting if I don’t trust them?

Do you recall how it felt as a child when your father entrusted you with a task? I vividly remember the first time my dad handed me a screwdriver and asked me to clean out the lawnmower’s carburetor. I was both terrified and exhilarated.

After completing the task, I presented it to him nervously. Despite finding a few mistakes, he never criticized or spoke down to me. Instead, he patiently explained how I could improve. He understood that it’s challenging to remember everything the first time you attempt something new.

The essence is that trust serves as the wing that enables teamwork to soar, while its absence can lead to the fragmentation of a team.

I once worked under a boss who, in a team of three, managed to divide us completely. Instead of fostering teamwork, he encouraged individual efforts, believing they would yield greater results. However, this approach fueled rivalry among us, sparking inner competition and ultimately fracturing the camaraderie we once shared. What started as a cohesive unit of three soon disintegrated, leaving us unwilling to even be in each other’s presence.

Due to his lack of trust in the team, it ultimately led to its failure.

Have you ever found yourself in a leadership role where you had to place complete trust in someone entirely new, someone you had never met before?

The next time you encounter a situation requiring trust in someone, I urge you to embrace it fully. Give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that they can handle the task just as effectively as you could, or perhaps even better. You never know until you give them the chance.

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