Encouraging Trust

March 31, 2011

New and very well done research on servant leadership establishes a link between this employee-focused style of management and enhanced team performance. Servant leadership leads to employees feeling trust toward the leader, which allows them to take more risks when working in their team because they feel safe rather than threatened.

Striving for excellence and transformational change is risky. Risk and vulnerability create fear. Courage is the ability to move forward in the presence of fear. Your team will languish if it’s members are unable to find the courage to take reasonable risks to accomplish remarkable objectives.

Trust means that people are willing to make themselves vulnerable to us in a risky situation. Trust can’t cause the people we’ve been given the privilege to lead to have courage. Some will find the courage to act even if they don’t trust us, and others will evade courage regardless of how we behave toward them.

Trust creates the conditions where courage can find its fullest and most productive expression. Courage thrives on trust.

If you want those around you to be more encouraged and less discouraged, please consider changing the thing you have the most control over as a leader – your own behavior. You ultimately have no control over whether or not people will trust you, but you do have absolute control over how worthy you are of their trust.

Be darn good at what you do, consistently walk a talk that your people value, and care deeply about everyone that is affected by the choices you make. Strive to be more encouraging, and you too will be encouraged.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Julio says:

    Hi Bret,
    “Encouraging Trust.” That’s truth, as a manager, we should strive to be more encouraging because this fosters a good labor and personal environment. So that, employees will feel more motivated. Managers should convince the achievement of something instead of forcing the circumstances, because this latter over time will trigger in a contrary context to our interests.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    You are right on once again, Julio. thanks! bret

  2. I’ve always like the concept of servant leadership and it’s interesting to see that research supports the feelings of trust that follows the servant leader. I wonder if the same applies at the company-customer level. For example, if the company “serves” the customer rather than its own interests, does the customer come to trust the company? In my own readings on sustainable agriculture, one of the drivers is that consumers increasing don’t trust food companies – many view those companies as more concerned with profit than with the customer’s wellbeing.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Really good research is starting to come in that supports servant leadership. Intent is one of the biggest drivers of trust. We just don’t trust people or the companies they represent that we think don’t really care. Thanks, Chris! Bret

  3. davidburkus says:

    The last two posts on servant leadership have been great. As a doctoral student at Regent, I have quite a few professors who have written papers on SL but none have managed to get their work noticed by a significant journal like JAP. The article you cited gives me hope that the field is growing.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Got another one coming! I think we will see more good research on servant leadership in the coming years. Liden has a good measure, and that helps a lot. Thanks, David!