What are the leadership qualities that build trust?
When employees trust management, they enthusiastically deliver great customer service and stick around a lot longer. Trust is what drives higher employee retention and retention drives business results. The longer employees stay and the more they trust management, the better they serve customers, deliver quality and work productively. It takes a Character-Based Leader to build that level of trust in employees.
Employee Retention Linked To Leadership, Trust and Business Performance
Trust is the new litmus test for effective leadership. Several empirical studies done during the last ten years support what my three decades of primary research shows. There is a clear causal link between leadership, trust, retention and business performance. In fact, recent studies have even linked employee trust and retention to higher return on assets and stock performance.
What causes employees to trust management? While overall company policies and human resource approaches contribute to results, it finally comes down to the way managers lead employees whether they are called co-workers, associates, crew members or partners. The difference is not in the words. The difference is in the nature of how one leads.
It takes a certain type of manager to create trust in their people. And that involves a lot more than human relations skills, supervisory techniques and motivational methods. All of that will help a manager perform their job better and prevent employee turnover from skyrocketing. But those techniques, methods and skills won’t boost employee retention dramatically or cause a major improvement in customer service.
The Link Between Trust, Leadership and Character
The new world of leadership is about developing relationships with people based on mutual trust. For an employee to trust a manager or executive, they have to take a risk. That risk starts by believing that someone else will have your back and does what’s best for you and the organization. Trust means employees have confidence in management’s character and ability to do the right thing for the organization, the customer and themselves. That’s no easy feat in a world where repeated surveys show employees trust management less than ever.
If you think about your personal experiences, you will begin to understand how difficult and precarious it is to build and maintain trust. Trust and confidence are not created in a single action or experience. They are built through a continuing series of consistent and congruent actions over time. One brick at a time we build the foundation for trust. Yet, it only takes one inconsistent incident to create doubt and a couple more to bring that wall of trust tumbling down. The wall of trust is slow to build and fast to fall.
Character Is The Best Leadership Guidance System
There is no way we as humans can consciously keep track of the thousands of things we need to do and say that can affect whether others trust us. Trust isn’t built by following a list of proscribed actions. “Oh let me see, I’ve got to remember to do number six more often.” We need a guidance system deep inside of us that automatically helps us to do and say the right things without having to always think about it.
That guidance system is called character. Your leadership character…your values and principles, how you view yourself as a leader and your attitude toward your people…causes you to do and say things in a certain way. Each situation that occurs leads you to approach it and respond to it based on your character. Your character defines who you are and how you lead. Character-Based Leaders build trust and confidence in people.
It takes an effective leader to lead a business and the people working for that business. It takes a Character-Based Leader to create enough trust in people to produce the best results. Trust is the currency of leadership. Character is the currency of trust.
More Articles on Leadership, Culture, Teamwork and Change
“The Character Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution…One Person at a Time,” has just been released by the non-profit Lead Change Group. Don Shapiro, President of First Concepts Consultants, is one of the book’s 21 authors and one of its editors. The core premise of the book is that “leadership is about who you are, not your position or power.” It is available in both print and Kindle versions on Amazon.
“When we lead from good character, people will enthusiastically join us in the pursuit of a goal.”