Leaders, beware: the hottest new excuse for lack of results – “trust issues”

Recent research has cited that employees who trust their senior management bring back 108% value to their shareholders. On the other hand, employees who do not trust their senior executives only bring 66% back to their shareholders.

Recent research has cited that employees who trust their senior management bring back 108% value to their shareholders. On the other hand, employees who do not trust their senior executives only bring 66% back to their shareholders.


What the research didn’t ask is whether or not trust is generated by the senior executives’ actions or by the employees’ choices.

Leaders and their employees are attending entire seminars on ways that they can get their employees to trust them. Others are citing that trust among people in organizations is at an all-time low. Evidently, it is up to the leaders to perfect themselves and their employees’ circumstances to ensure that employees experience attention and consistency and are kept informed and secure through high levels of communication, recognition and rewards.
Leaders, beware! Much of the current work on “Trust in the Workplace” is a great utopian idea based on a flawed premise about the origins of trust. Here’s the reality check – creating trust as suggested, is an impossible expectation for leaders and a hot new excuse to explain away the lack of results in the workplace.

Today’s circumstances mandate a whole new perspective on the issue of trust and here it is…

While leaders certainly have a responsibility to act with integrity, consistency, decency, respect and the rest, I can guarantee you that each one will most certainly fail each and every employee at multiple points in their relationship. That’s the reality of it – they are human. If we are basing organizational profit on the perfection of our managers, it is a fragile prospect indeed. To reduce the risk to your profits, reduce employee dependence upon leaders’ behavior to ensure their trust. Bulletproof your employees to succeed regardless of the transgressions of others.
Let’s get clear. Profits don’t come directly from higher levels of trust between leaders and employees. Higher levels of trust consistent enough to show up in the form of profits are the result of personally accountable, bulletproof employees. So to ensure profits, don’t leave it dependent upon the fragile proposition of trust. Reality-based leaders ensure profits by making the choice of granting trust as an expectation of all professionals.

Trust is not something people earn from others. Trust is a choice that professionals make based upon their own faith in their own competencies and abilities. It has little to do with the leader and everything to do with the individual.
When I worked as a therapist with women who had been in abusive relationships, I would often hear the statement, “I don’t trust men.”  Just as today, I often hear, “I am unable to contribute my best work because I don’t trust my leader.” As if men or leaders were the deciding factor, a victim viewpoint and one held by those who did not move onto success in their lives. The women or employees that continue to hold this belief based upon the falsehood that trust is something to be earned or deserved by others remain in permanent learned helplessness. Success eludes them and they have no idea why as they continue to be dependent upon the mercy of the choices, decisions and actions of others.   

My response to the women who I counseled and those I coach today is surprising to many but the key to incredible breakthroughs – first in their thinking and then in their ability to succeed in spite of the circumstances. “The issue is not that you don’t trust men (your leader). Your real issue is that you don’t trust yourself around men (your leader) to make good choices, listen to your intuition, set boundaries, make good decisions, act ethically, show integrity, engage in robust dialogue or exhibit courage.” People who trust themselves to make good choices around others have a higher level of trust for their leaders and work for companies that are more profitable.
Trust is about your courage, not someone else’s integrity. What a great new perspective! To adopt this new belief is to set yourself free as a leader and as an employee. While you can’t control or change the behavior of others, you can enhance your abilities in the areas listed above. Want to improve trust in your organization?  Start there.


Or for the simple formula to decide if someone is trustworthy, follow these steps:

Step 1: Is what they are doing legal and within company ethical guidelines? If the answer is no, then call the company hotline and report them.  If yes, go onto Step 2.

Step 2: Check their badge. Do they work for the same organization, or a chosen partner? Are they operating within their licensure and authority? If no, call your company hotline and report them.  If yes, go onto Step 3.

Step 3: Choose to offer them the professional courtesy of trust and get busy producing results together.
If they are acting in concerning ways, choose to act in ways that merit trust – of yourself and your own ability to handle any situation; initiate dialogue, have a robust conversation, show integrity and courage. If things grow even more concerning, go back to Step 1 and repeat the decision tree.
Want to increase trust in your workplace? Work on yourself and your ability to trust yourself to do the right thing in all circumstances in the midst of all relationships. Profits will no longer be dependent upon the actions of others and results will happen because of you not in spite of you. 

Sorry to smash yet another excuse, but someone has to lead the revolution in leadership. You’re welcome.

And remember,
You rock and Cy rocks!
Lead on my friend.