Leaders Know They Need to Build Trust. So What’s the Problem? We Are.

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Leaders Know They Need to Build Trust. So What’s the Problem? We Are. 

I just read a list of things leaders can do to build trust. No need to repeat those items here. You know that list. It’s the dog-earned list that has been around for decades. We don’t need to find the right list of attributes, we need to get interested in why so many of us don’t pay attention to what we know if important.

I believe the problem is our own bias in favor of ourselves. I suspect that many leaders (at all levels in an organization) would read the list and nod their heads. “Tell the truth? Yup, check that one.” They would rate themselves high when others might offer a very different picture. And something else reinforces that positive bias: people don’t want to tell leaders the truth. They’ve learned from years of working with bosses that it is better to err on the side of flattery or silence.

Leaders who take this list of things that build trust seriously need to find ways to hear how others view them. One simple way to start is what I call “coffee with Joe.” The Joe’s (or Jo’s of the world will tell it like it is. They don’t really get the concept of career-limiting move. Every leader I work with can name a Joe or two who will speak truth to power. These people can be invaluable. not fun to be around, but invaluable.


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