The Sharpening Stone – Let’s Talk About Trust

Let’s talk about TRUST

Leaders set the tone and the example in determining the level of safety and trust that exists in an organization.

If trust is absent or uncertain, we are forced to spend our time and energy protecting ourselves from each other, and that weakens the organization and its productivity. When trust is established, we will naturally engage the work and combine our talents and energies to work together and to meet the challenges that confront us. Yet, many tend to think and talk about trust as if it is an all-or-nothing condition:

  • How often have you heard “He/she has trust issues”? or “I don’t feel like I can trust him”
  • Or we talk about earning customers’ trust, building “team trust” and so on

If I were to ask you to tell me what trust is, it can be a bit hard to define, can’t it? Yet most would likely contend we “know it when we see it”, right? And we would likely affirm that it is an important factor in any well functioning relationship or organization.

So, let’s take a deeper dive to see if we can better understand trust and, hopefully, how to build trust in our individual relationships and organizations.

The Center for Creative Leadership, in a piece on “Building trust in the workplace and on your team”, identifies 3 dimensions of trust: Ability, Integrity, and Loyalty – and contends these factors determine an individual’s, or a team’s, or a company’s perceived trustworthiness. Let’s look at each of these components:

Ability – “Do I trust they can do it?”

Integrity – “Do I trust they will do it?”

Loyalty – “Do I trust they’re on my side?”

This is a useful framework for understanding the different aspects of trust that are often blurred in our generalized thinking about trust. We may, for example, trust someone’s ability but question their integrity or loyalty.

Effective leadership requires the capacity to recognize these different dimensions for purposes of issue discussion, employee development, and/or discipline. Effective delegation likewise requires that we identify key task elements and determine if we “trust” the employee’s ability, integrity, and loyalty to carry them out. If not, why not? Where is the issue? How can and should that be addressed? As a leader, you can, and must, address each of these components with those you lead. As a leader, you set the tone and the example. Be intentional about developing trust in your team, and you will see results in terms of productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction.

Trust me : )

About the Author: Dixon Miller, Ph.D.

Dixon earned his Doctorate and Master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology from Biola University and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Messiah College. In addition to being a licensed psychologist and board-certified clinical neuropsychologist, Dixon brings business leadership experience in ownership, governance, and management roles. He most recently served as CEO at Acadia, Inc., where he is also a long-standing member of the Board of Directors. He was a founder and Managing Partner of Behavioral Healthcare Consultants in Lancaster prior to joining the team at Acadia, and was previously the Director of Behavioral Medicine at Lancaster General Hospital. Dixon is highly skilled in psychological assessments, and brings a strong foundation in leadership development, organizational dynamics, cultural climate assessment, change management, employee engagement,, and performance/sports psychology.

The Sharpening Stone

The Sharpening Stone is a series of short videos from True Edge designed to sharpen leaders and their organizations.

Want to receive The Sharpening Stone in your inbox? Signup below.

Rely on our executive experience and professional psychological expertise to help you find your True Edge.