Great leadership has many faces. Sometimes leadership takes the form of a simple conversation as someone provides valuable advice to another. In other cases, leadership is more obvious - a CEO making an inspirational speech to motivate his or her team. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes; they differ in their style and principles but they all must strive for excellence in a way that builds confidence and trust. In every case, the most successful leaders have learned the art of balancing a few core principles - Trust Excellence Prosperity and Enjoyment - or what I like to call the Four Pillars of Leadership. While all four are interrelated working in cross-function with one another each should have its own "fifteen minutes" in the spotlight. To this end, I have created a four-part article series to highlight in more detail the significance of each of the four pillars of leadership.
The First Pillar of Leadership: Trust
What is trust? We hear about the consequences of decreased or the absence of trust every day. From financial organizations not trusting stakeholders to the government experiencing all-time lows for public trust; no one is immune from the need to give and engender trust. Is it a feeling or an attitude about something or someone? Can trust be learned or is it something that takes time to develop? At its most basic trust is essentially a belief in the reliability or truthfulness of something or someone a feeling of confidence that what they do will be in line with what they say.
Leadership: Mutual Trust is Paramount
To empower leaders there must be trust in place. And while trust begins with a leader trusting his or her own self and being confident in their own skills and abilities to be successful leaders also must show trust to others. Mutual trust or shared confidence is the cornerstone of healthy relationships with both subordinates and colleagues. Trust fosters openness and a vulnerability that ensures information sharing is without barriers in every direction. The free flow of concerns opportunities and challenges stems from trust.
Is There a Tangible Benefit to Trust?
To many, the concept of trust is "soft" or one that while important is just not a high priority. The truth is while it may be difficult to measure the tangible benefits of trust there is plenty of quantifiable evidence to support the negative results associated with low trust. From an organizational perspective when trust is not present there is redundancy in work inefficiency and decreased production. Every interaction communication or decision suffers in a workplace lacking trust resulting in less agility slowed response time and decrease profitability. On the other hand, when trust is high performance multiplies production soars and every system functions at optimal levels.
Enhancing Leadership Competencies: Engendering Trust
As leaders, it's simply expected that we possess the knowledge and expertise to lead our teams. Most likely we've earned respect and worked hard to overcome challenges and persevere. So how do we improve and build on those competencies? The question becomes how do we enhance our leadership skills to engender confidence so that what we say and do inspires others to excel? The answer is the first pillar of leadership - trust.