Create a Culture of Trust:
Be the Standard-Bearer

Culture-Trust-Standard-IntegrityLike it or not, as a leader you are the standard-bearer. You model the standards of integrity throughout the entire organization, so it’s important to recognize the values and expectations you are communicating through words, actions, policies and procedures.

Where do you draw the lines on truthfulness, honesty and respectfulness? Is positivity expected?  If you want to create a culture of trust, consider your standards on these key values and expectations:

Truthfulness

Speaking the truth is challenging in toxic environments where messengers get shot. It may be tempting to ignore reality and tell people what they want to hear, notes management consultant Jim Dougherty in The Best Way for New Leaders to Build Trust (Harvard Business Review, December 13, 2013). Leaders must nonetheless deliver bad news when it’s warranted—and demand honorable behavior from those who receive it.

People sense less risk when an organization’s culture respects those who tell the truth, even when it hurts. When leaders address mistakes constructively and avoid embarrassing their staff, there’s no need to lie or stretch the truth. The penalty for lying must outweigh that for making errors. Enforce this mindset in your culture so truthful coworkers earn others’ trust.

Honesty

When employees treat each other honestly (do the right thing), trust grows over time. Dishonesty must be met with consequences. If you deal with it firmly, even for subtle infractions, your culture of integrity strengthens and people trust each other more.

Respectfulness

A culture of respect and honor fosters high levels of trust among coworkers. Again, a leader’s behavior sets the stage for success. Respectfulness includes basic social considerations like accepting people and listening to their opinions and ideas.

Leaders also demonstrate respect when they seek feedback without favoritism, encourage participation from everyone on a team and value each staff member within the organization. Such behaviors enhance trust; being judgmental, resentful and prone to attack destroy trust. Instill a mindset of respectfulness into your culture so trust among coworkers can flourish.

In my next post I’ll explore the fourth value and expectation: positivity. In the meantime, what do you think? What are your standards for truth, honesty and respect? Would your co-workers agree? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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