wharton - rebuilding trust

Ten Steps Leaders Can take to Rebuild Trust in Untrusting Times

Leadership is a relationship that requires cultivation, influence comes from a wide variety of sources and based on respect. This article looks at the trust relationship between leaders and employees, citing recent troubles at Facebook, Google, Amazon, Target, Walmart and many more. Wharton adjunct professor management Greg P Shea offers ten steps for rebuilding trust in untrusting times.

“We refer to a person who sets the direction for our travel as a ‘leader.’ We refer to a person traveling without followers as ‘a bloke out for a walk.’”

Ten Steps for Rebuilding Trust

  • Clarify your values. Determining what you stand for will provide a guiding star and help avoid common traps. As Malcolm X said, “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”
  • Identify who you want to be as a leader. Distill what being a leader means to you and how you wish to be seen as a leader.
  • Question, stop and listen carefully. Do not assume that you know others’ framework or that it is as it was at the advent of 2020. That framework will determine the meaning and effect of your words. It’s not what you say that matters, it’s what gets heard.
  • Tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Say what you know and don’t know. Say when you expect to know more. Delineate the process for any decision-making. Provide no false assurances.
  • Lay out the dots. What data are you using and from what sources?
  • Connect the dots. Convey meaning and how to understand what is unfolding. Don’t forget to provide a desired end state, one worth the journey.
  • Lay out the plan as you know it and the specific next steps that it will require.
  • Do what you say you will do. Hold yourself accountable by setting standards and objectives for your own behavior, and then meet them.
  • Lead from the front when times get tougher and from the back when times ease up. Both enable others who can lead to step up and do so, having seen it modeled as well as having the space to try it.
  • Feed your horses, feed your people, feed yourself. Get your followers what they need to succeed, tend to their well-being, and then (and only then) do you tend to yourself. But don’t forget to do so, because your followers will need you tomorrow.

Key Takeaways

  • Building trust requires leaders to clearly articulate values and lead by example
  • Communicate effectively, listen actively

Synopsis of an article from knowledge@wharton
by Gregory P. Shea
Published 18th August 2020
Link to full article: https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/leaders-can-restore-trust/

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