Trust has a deep correlation to an organization's culture, and as I write in my book, it also has a direct link to the simple formula of Respectful = Constructive = Effective. With respect, there can be constructive interactions that lead to effectiveness. Without respect, there cannot be constructiveness, which often leads directly to ineffectiveness. This essentially all boils down to the ability to foster and build an environment of trust.
So, great, we understand that trust-building is an important task of leadership, especially by members of a Board, but how do we measure trust levels, and what do we do if we find trust lacking in the Board itself or in the organizations we are leading? These are not easy questions to answer, but surely the place to begin is learning how to bring trust issues into the light and talk constructively about them. First and foremost, this requires a shared vision of what a high-trust, high performance group looks like and building the capacity to give and receive feedback that might be interpersonally provocative. Leaders at any level discussing trust must be willing to discover a blind spot or two, and be open to the possibility that individually, or as a collective leadership team, they are not viewed as trustworthy in the organization’s eyes as they think they are. However painful the results of these discoveries, they are small compared to the daily destruction of work and goals within an organization that happens due to mistrust. "Developing trust can be thought of as 'the work before the work,' meaning the mutual effort needed to build effective communications and relationships - without it, other tasks get done less efficiently and effectively," states Daniel K. Oestreich, Principal at Oestreich Associates Leadership Consulting and the creator of the Team Trust Survey. "Trust can be a sensitive and emotional topic. It is often built slowly and can be eroded rapidly, so it makes sense to use a framework to help make discussion safer and more productive." Once the level of trust becomes genuinely 'discussable' within a leadership team or Board, members can embark together on the important steps of improving communications, managing conflicts, and building new bonds. A trust survey can be a useful tool in initiating that effort.
Making a concerted effort to first measure trust and then fostering a culture of cultivating trust is paramount to ensure success - not just for leadership teams and Boards, but the organizations they are entrusted to serve.
How will you ensure Trust within your Board and organization?
Mark A. Pfister - Independent Director | Outside Director | Strategist | Board Macro-Influencer | Speaker | Author
About the Author: In addition to sitting on numerous Boards, Mark A. Pfister is a 'Board Macro-Influencer,' a certified Board Director, author, and advises public, private, and nonprofit Boards in efficient and effective operations. Known as 'The Board Architect,' he is also the inventor of the 'Board as a Service' (BaaS) engagement model and an expert project manager frequently advising on strategic global initiatives in their initiation and operational phases...<< read full bio here >>