Trusting and being trusted is the core of leadership
Trust informs many of the decisions we make day-to-day: You trust your children’s school to take care of them, you trust your carpool to get you to work and home safely, you trust your work team to help you get projects done. Trust is inherently risky, as people can let you down, and yet you cannot serve as a leader in a company without trusting your employees and them trusting you in return. So how do you navigate trust both inside and outside the workplace?
If you’re a leader in your organization, trusting your employees often means giving up some of your own control. However, according to Adamo Security Group Security Department Director Phil Chance, that can lead to a far more efficient workplace. “I think trust is a force multiplier,” Chance says. “It speeds everything up. If you have trust, then you don’t have to do mental gymnastics to get things done. You don’t have to work around people.”
For your company, the decision of who to put your trust in can be the difference between your business succeeding or failing. For John Baum, Adamo Security Group campus manager and Army veteran, trusting the right person was the difference between life and death. “My second deployment we were rolling four gunships essentially, and we had to protect an entire convoy,” Baum says. “And when you have that, you have to be able to trust all other three gunships. You know you trust yourself inherently, but the other three you have to give [trust] to, that they’re going to have your back.”
However, Baum says, well before entering combat scenarios, trust was built among him and his fellow soldiers in the training they did prior to deployment. Based on that, he learned who he did and didn’t want next to him when his life was on the line.
While your business’s success likely isn’t life or death, there are still ways you can learn who to trust before you leave a lot of power in their hands. If you start with giving up a little control, like letting a team member handle a project you’d previously done alone, you can learn who you can lean on when a crisis emerges.
“You grow trust overtime,” Chance says. “If you want to trust somebody more and they work for you, you have to be vulnerable with them and give them opportunities to be trustworthy. That’s the only way to build trust.”
It’s also crucial to work to be someone the people you manage can trust in return. According to research published in The Leadership Quarterly, you’ll be able to better build trust by genuinely caring about the people working with and for you. If workers feel cared for, they’re more likely to work harder and be motivated.
Similarly, if your employees see you as a person of integrity who stands for their values and keeps their word, they’re more likely to place trust in you. Even in an environment of high trust, there must be clear consequences and accountability for when people don’t live up to expectations. You as a leader cannot be an exception to that accountability; holding yourself accountable will allow your employees to see you as more trustworthy.
Bethany Mavis, Adamo Security Group’s media and communications director, says when it comes to giving up control and trust to your employees, it’s important not to then micromanage them. Once you’ve entrusted them with a project, step back as much as possible and allow them to do the work. “As you grow as a leader and as your grow as a manager, you can’t expect everyone to do everything exactly like you,” Mavis said, “but if they can do it almost as good as you and you can train them on it, then that’s worth passing off.”
If you still find yourself struggling to trust your employees, Baum says it may not be your employees who are the cause. It may be time to start looking inward. “What are you needing to let go?” Baum says. “Look inside yourself, ask why I won’t give trust to this person. Is it something that I did? Or is it something they are doing or did? Any time you’re trying to overcome something that you struggle with, it’s just a little bit. Give a little bit and see if you can do it.”
For further reading on how increased trust can help your business, Adamo leadership recommends Stephen M.R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust.