Trust – The Critical Leadership Factor

Trust is a critical component of employee engagement and the foundation of a great workplace.

Academic research has shown the role of trust in building more positive attitudes, higher levels of interpersonal and team cooperation, better communication, job satisfaction, effort, relationships, increased quality of performance, and many more.

But saying trust is important and actually cultivating an environment of trust are two different things. So, how can you actually build and cultivate trust in your workplace?

First, we should define what actually drives feelings of trust. Leadership author and speaker Gary Cohen has compiled what he calls the 7Cs of trust: Capability, Commitment, Capacity, Connection, Commonality, Character, and Consistency.

Employee motivation specialist Susanne Jacobs has identified eight intrinsic drivers of trust. When combined with a sense of well-being and the right environmental factors, they will result in engagement, energy, a boosted sense of wellbeing, and sustainable high performance for work outcomes.

And what are those “right” environmental factors? According to Susanne Jacobs, they include “work-life integration, flexible working conditions, , workload, communication, leadership, resources, technology, physical environment, reward and performance” along with other people strategies.

Jacobs also suggests that reward has a strong reciprocal role to play in developing trust and sustainable performance, as fair rewards reinforce behaviours that drive success.

One key point to remember is that trust is reciprocal. As Harold Macmillan once said “A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts.” The surest way to earn the trust of employees is to show them that you trust them.

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