It is important as a leader to build up trust. Trust binds people together.
There is a story told by Damian Hughes in his book ‘The Five Steps to a Winning Mindset’ about a former British Lions head coach, Ian McGeechan, when working with one of his teams. McGeechan knew that a strong team was not just about individuals, but it was about creating team power. He sat in front of his team with a whiteboard and pen and asked them to shout the assets that a great team had. The responses were “fight, support, leadership, trust, listening, going the extra mile, caring, passion.”
When there were 10 or so words on the board, he asked them to grade them on a scale of 1 to 10 according to which was the most important. The consensus was that trust was the most needed asset to build a great team. McGeechan turned to the team and asked them if they trusted each other. Lots of nods. He then asked each member to go to the person in the room that they trusted and admired the most and then the person they trusted and admired the least and tell them the reasons why. There were lots of uneasy shuffles and McGeechan said ‘we have a lot of work to do.’
Getting teams to work together by building trust is not easy. But the reward is immense. It begins with the leader and it continues with transparency.
Trust provides us with a sense of safety and a sense of meaning and contributes to our overall happiness. It is a very important contributor to an employee’s sense of purpose, happiness, engagement and motivation. A leader’s actions must be consistent, they must put the company’s interests first and must have integrity at the heart – he or she must do as he says he will do.
You will know when you have achieved trust when at the same time you are confident that you have achieved transparency and that there is no talking in the corridors or secret cliques and groups of employees. But any issue can be opened and aired in team environments because everyone has the company’s interests at heart.
Paul Zak at the Centre for Neuroeconomic Studies at Claremont has spent ten years studying trust and reports that people at high trust companies report 74% less stress, 76% more engagement, 106% more energy, 50% higher productivity, 60% more job satisfaction, 70% more alignment with the company’s purposes, 29% more satisfaction, 40% less burnout, and 13% fewer sick days (from The Mind of the Leader by Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter.)
It is that important.