Sponsored: Trust plays a critical role in leadership

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TWO years into the pandemic, and with different narratives being pulled and pushed across various platforms, we all have a little less trust, a little more suspicion, writes Cat Colella-Graham

The opposite of trusting someone or something is not only distrust, but deeming something unsafe. When we trust our leaders, whether at work, in the community or in our government, we feel safe. When we don’t we feel unsafe. We are generally weary of trusting, and are more skeptical than ever before, and yet we all have a deep longing to trust, to believe and to feel safe. How do we engender trust during one of the most uncertain times in history?

Leaders of today are grappling with this very question. Consider the “great resignation”. There are professionals who are choosing not to work rather than work because they do not want to entrust their careers to their employer. This matters more than ever. Here are a few tips that can help build trust for leaders who want to engender psychological safety among their teams.

  1. Don’t just lead, DO. Today’s workforce wants to know their leaders are standing shoulder to shoulder with them, and involved in the work as much as they are, not on a lofty tower looking down on the hive of activity. They want to see their leaders as colleagues as well as leaders. 
  2. Be accessible. Hold do-drop-in sessions, innovate on the open door policy with virtual Ask Me Anything’s. Invite your team to get to know you personally, and understand what drives you to do what you do. 
  3. Be vulnerable. If your team sees you grappling with issues, and you socialize opportunities for colleagues to help you find a solution, this will build trust. Gone is the leader who must have all the answers, invite people in to what’s keeping you up at night. 
  4. Consistency matters. It’s critical that you are even and consistent with your communications. Before you give a generous perk to retain staff, consider if it is sustainable. Reliability and consistency build trust. 
  5. Be credible. This seems the most obvious, but so many leaders in all walks of life have had to walk back comments, explain themselves after the fact, or have been caught out having relied on misinformation. Follow through on commitments. Credibility is the cornerstone of building trust. 

I challenge everyone to reset their leadership intentions, and work at building trust. We all feel we are trustworthy, but if we do an audit, and look at ourselves in the full length mirror, I am sure we can all improve. It is the single most important thing you can do to build effective relationships in and outside of the workplace.

Cat Colella-Graham is the founder of Cheer Partners, an employee experience agency designed to revolutionize the day-to-day life of an organization’s most important stakeholders – their employees. In her deep experience as a chief human resources officer and internal communications expert, Colella-Graham saw a gap that needed to be bridged to drive forward a holistic employee experience. She foresaw that a new generation of employees were finding their voices and that companies would need to change the frameworks in which they communicate and engage with employees. Cheer Partners was founded to address this growing need. It was acquired by Lippe Taylor in March, 2021.