Next to the power of a singular purpose, nothing is more important for creating high levels of organizational trust than the quality and commitment of the leadership at all levels of the organization. It doesn't matter if an organization has a singular purpose if the leadership doesn't understand it and seek to serve it.
Leaders can avoid pitfalls by devoting themselves to personal development that cultivates their inner compass, or True North. This requires reframing their leadership from being heroes to being servants of the people they lead. This process requires thought and introspection because many people get into leadership roles in response to their ego needs. It enables them to transition from seeking external gratification to finding internal satisfaction by making meaningful contributions through their leadership.
A leader’s True North is their orienting point that helps them stay on track as a leader. It is derived from their most deeply held beliefs, values, and the principles they lead by.
Their leadership purpose is how they activate their True North to make a difference in the world. If they're starting an organization, it’s purpose should reflect their True North. On the other hand, if they work in an organization that already has a mission, they will need to find congruence between their True North and the organization's mission. If they cannot, they won’t find fulfillment from their work.
When leaders are more conscious, expressing “emotional intelligence” and “spiritual intelligence” – qualities such as caring, compassion, integrity, transparency and intuition – the organization thrives. Spiritual intelligence is the central and most fundamental of all the intelligences, because it becomes the source of guidance for the others.
Conscious leadership today also requires systems intelligence – the ability to see relationships and how everything is interconnected, such as multiple stakeholder needs.
[John Mackey, Founder of Conscious Capitalism; Bill George, Finding Your True North; Steven Covey]
The effectiveness of teams is tremendously enhanced when they are fully empowered to do their work and to fulfill the organization's mission & values.
To receive trust, it is usually necessary that we give trust. Organizing into small interlocking teams helps ensure that trust will flow in all directions within the organization -- upwards, downwards, within the team, and across teams. Small teams are essential to optimizing the flow of organizational trust, equally important is the philosophy of empowerment. The effectiveness of teams is tremendously enhanced when they are fully empowered to do their work and to fulfill the organization's mission and values. Empowerment must be much, much more than a mere slogan, however. It should be within the very DNA of the organization. Empowerment unleashes creativity and innovation and rapidly accelerates the evolution of the organization. Empowered organizations have tremendous competitive advantage because they have tapped into levels of energy and commitment which their competitors usually have difficulty matching. Four related questions to consider:
Do I spend my time empowering others to make decisions, or does my involvement force people to look to me for answers?
How often do I dive into details that belong to others?
How do my actions and attention help – or prevent – others from taking greater responsibility and accountability for their actions?
TRANSPARENCY & AUTHENTIC COMMUNICATION
A very important measurement and condition of trust is transparency. If we want to optimize trust then we must seek to optimize transparency. When we decide to keep something hidden the motivation is almost always a lack of trust. We are afraid that the information that we wish to hide would cause more harm than good if it were widely known. While of course, some discretion is usually necessary to protect important organizational information from migrating to one's competitors or to outsiders who wish to harm the organization, such discretion can easily be overdone. Transparency is a very important supporting value for empowerment. Indeed, it is difficult for an organization to be empowered if it lacks transparency.
Authentic communication with honesty and integrity are essential attributes of both transparency and trust. This is the exact opposite of what many organizations do, which is to try to "spin" their messaging to tell people what they believe people want to hear so that people will think well of them. This lack of honest, authentic communication and transparency usually boomerangs, however, and undermines trust and creates cynicism. One of the main reasons why Americans don't trust many political leaders, including the various Presidents that have led us, is that we discover that they routinely lie to us. They don't tell us the truth and we come to understand that they don't trust us and feel that they need to manipulate us. We tell the truth to people that we trust.
The high-trust organization takes the risk of revealing too much information. We must be willing to take the risk that some valuable information may fall into the wrong hands because our commitment to empowerment and trust necessitates taking that risk. Creating transparency and authentic communication is an ongoing challenge that every organization faces. We must continually strive to remove the barriers that prevent it, knowing that we can't maintain high levels of organizational trust without it.
Nothing unravels trust more quickly in an organization than either the reality or the perception of unfairness. Another important virtue of creating a culture of transparency is that it helps ensure that unfairness is clearly seen and can therefore be corrected quickly. It is essential that the ethic of fairness apply to all key organizational processes such as hiring, promotion, compensation, discipline, and termination. Favoritism and nepotism undermine organizational trust. They cannot be tolerated. People are often prone to envy and any perceived unfairness exacerbates this tendency greatly, giving it the energy of justification.
LOVE AND CARE
Ultimately we cannot create high trust organizations without creating cultures based on love and care. The people we usually trust the most are the people that we also believe genuinely love and care for us. All too often, love and care are not qualities that we associate with organizations. We tend to look for love and friendship with our families and friends, but not from our work. Why is this? Many people believe that love and care in the organizational setting interfere with efficiency and get in the way of making the "tough but necessary" decisions that the organization requires for success. This type of thinking reflects our own lack of integration of love and care in our own lives. We have created an artificial barrier that is holding back our own personal growth and the full potential of our organizations.
Fear is the opposite of love. When fear predominates in the organization, love and care cannot flourish. The opposite is also true--love and care banish fear. How can we create more love and care in our organizations? - The leadership must embody genuine love and care. This cannot be faked. If the leadership doesn't express love and care in their actions then love and care will not flourish in the organization. As Gandhi said: "We must be the change that we wish to see in the world." Too many organizations believe that judgment of others and criticizing failures are essential for creating excellence. While striving for excellence is important for all organizations, this can be done at a higher level of consciousness without condemnation. Forgiveness doesn't mean condoning mistakes and failures. It simply means that we help the other person to learn from their mistakes through non-judgmental feedback and encouragement.
[Marcus Buckingham (“Strengths”), John Mackey (Conscious Capitalism), Bill George (Harvard Business School), and the Hay Group (Culture Study of 150+ schools)]