I firmly believe that trust is the foundation of any good relationship, effective leadership, and successful companies.
When trust is present it allows people to simply do their jobs, with confidence. It increases their commitment and loyalty and reduces their levels of stress and tension. In addition, it creates an environment where cooperation is possible, decision making is simpler, and communication is efficient. It leads to high-performance teams and companies.
When people are trusted they are less afraid of failing and more willing to take the right risks, knowing that someone’s got their back. Moreover, they reward trust with trust and a higher level of engagement, which further increases trust.
This is the strong and positive circle of trust; it’s like a positive feedback loop which gets stronger and stronger with every act of trustworthiness.
However, trust can be very fragile too. Each promise that we break, a commitment we don’t keep, or an agreement we don’t honor, is capable of severely shattering trust. It’s a very slippery slope. Once lost, trust is very hard to rebuild.
When trust is no longer present it adversely affects the company’s performance and creates a very negative environment and culture. It’s an “every man to himself” type of atmosphere that eventually can bring down the entire organization. Good people leave, and good talent stays away.
It becomes a destructive and negative circle, which only gets worst and worst as performance and results deteriorate.
The true test of trust is in difficult moments when people face tough dilemmas and hard choices. When the company is going through a rough time; or when we’re at the risk of losing a customer; when we fail or make a mistake. This is when trust is most needed, and leaders are tested.
Do we keep our commitments and promises even if it’s not convenient? Do we stand behind our team member who just made a costly mistake? Should we honor our agreements with suppliers even if we’re having a bad quarter? Do we do the right thing?
These choices are never easy. The dilemmas are real. And yet, our actions and decisions must always be guided by our integrity, values, and principles. In the end, our most valuable asset is our reputation.
Trust should not be a temporary habit. It needs to be the cornerstone of our leadership and our organizational culture.