7 Things that Erode Trust from a Leader

Cracked cement symbolizing broken trust between people or partie

Trust and integrity are often used terms in business.

Do you ever take the time to reflect on how honest your personal behaviour is? When we become stressed, our behaviour tends to revert to less than optimal behaviour. A manager that I was working with some time ago prided himself on being honest, yet often failed to be clear and direct with his thoughts and goals to his staff. When he engaged this in this behaviour, his staff became stressed and became much less effective in their work.

Sometimes we can experience “creeping” of our ethics and this impacts those all around us – our direct reports, our relationships and our clients.

Ask yourself if you have engaged in any of the following behaviours:

  1. Embellishing things. This can be either exaggerating how wonderful something was (when it was only okay or good), or how bad things were (often done to illustrate your point and get others to side with you on an issue).
  2. Talking about other people.  Have you found yourself complaining about someone’s behaviour behind their back? If you are gossiping like this with your direct reports, rest assured, they’ll be wondering what you say behind their back and trust in you becomes eroded.
  3. Rescue people. Do you have a tendency to become uncomfortable when others are receiving feedback that is uncomfortable? I’ve witnessed senior managers who then start to defend the individual despite having very similar concerns themselves. This creates confusion for all. No one is clear on what you really think and your credibility becomes eroded.
  4. Ignore bad behaviour and reward positive behaviour. As a manager, you need to ensure that you are giving equal weight to both successes and areas of growth. When you fail to hold others accountable, you fail to allow their growth.
  5. Sugarcoat your message vs. giving clarity on where you really stand on a topic or issue. Perhaps you are looking for the perfectly politically-correct phrase to announce in a meeting rather than speaking in a direct and respectful way. What is driving you to find the phrase that pays? Are you attempting to get “buy in” or manipulating vs. allowing employees to understand what is really happening?
  6. Ask your workers to complete tasks or reports and then redo the work without sharing your rationale so they can grow. This micromanagement technique will certainly give you rationale to continue to micromanage. When you don’t coach your employees to complete strong reports and redo them yourself, they become offended and insulted and then will lose the incentive to do great work. After all, why ensure it’s a great report if it’s only going to get redone by someone else?
  7. Make decisions that could easily and effectively be made by your managers or employees. When you take over control, your managers and leaders will start to rely on you to make decisions and when those decisions are not the best, you can expect blame to come shortly thereafter. Encouraging responsibility and ownership at all levels of the organization is a key facet to successful business.

Take the time to review these 7 areas – have you gotten feedback (whether verbal, written or even non-verbal) from others that would suggest you’ve been engaging in these 7 self-defeating behaviours? If so, genuinely want to change, look for an Executive Coach to assist you in greater self-awareness and change.

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