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I’ve been thinking about the importance of trust in the workplace. In my experience, it’s the single most crucial ingredient for engagement and success. Trust creates the foundation for authentic leadership.

In the engineering and scientific environments familiar to me, successful leaders who want to engage and lead smart people at work know how important it is to create an environment where everyone shares their thoughts and ideas. When there’s trust, people are more likely to take risks, share ideas, and be open to feedback.

These leaders know how to listen attentively, give credit when deserved, and gain the trust of team members. When those conditions exist, employees turn into followers and feel safe experimenting, failing, and learning. This is how innovation happens. 

On the other hand, people tend to hold back when trust is lacking. They’re less engaged and less likely to go above and beyond. This is how stagnation occurs.

To succeed, it’s also fundamental to create a sense of community at work because it reduces turnover and boosts employee morale, satisfaction, and engagement. This creates better experiences for customers as well!

In community-oriented workplaces, employees feel a sense of belonging and connection to the organization. Creating community at work requires leadership, communication, and collaboration. When employees feel like they belong, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. It also requires a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Building community needs leaders who are inclusive and empowering. Leaders who create community at work foster an environment where people feel valued, respected, and engaged. They also create opportunities for innovation by encouraging employees to share their ideas and perspectives. Creating community at work is essential to building a culture where everyone matters.

Trust is at the core of establishing, building, and maintaining contributing, value-adding communities of smart people working on technically-complex topics in engineering and the sciences.

This article will explore why trust is important and four actions that leaders can take to create trust and meaningful communities at work.

Four Reasons Why Trust is Important at Work

1. Trust creates engagement. Trust is a critical ingredient in the recipe for employee engagement. Trust is built on communication, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to success. When employees trust their bosses, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job and less likely to leave an organization. When trust is present, employees feel empowered to do their best work and are more likely to be extended discretionary effort. Conversely, when trust is lacking, employees may feel unmotivated and disengaged. Trust must be a top priority for organizations looking to create a culture of engagement.

2. When people trust their co-workers, collaboration thrives. Team members that trust each other are more effective and productive. Trust allows team members to openly share ideas, give honest feedback, and work together toward a common goal. Without trust, collaboration is difficult, if not impossible. Mistrust can lead to conflict, miscommunication, and a sense of unease. When team members don’t trust each other, they are less likely to take risks or step outside their comfort zones. As a result, collaboration suffers. For collaboration to be successful, team members must trust each other to work together effectively and achieve great things.

3. When people trust the company, they’re more likely to go above and beyond. Few things are more critical to a company’s success than engaged employees who believe in the mission. These employees are the ones who go above and beyond, putting in extra effort to help the company succeed. They’re also more likely to stick with the company during tough times, demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, engagement and trust don’t always come naturally. It’s up to leadership to create an environment where employees feel valued and empowered to make a difference. By aligning the company’s mission with employees’ individual goals, leaders can develop a sense of purpose that leads to genuine engagement. When employees believe in the vision, they’ll be more likely to go above and beyond.

4. Experimentation and risk-taking are essential for innovation and growth. Experimentation and risk-taking occur in the presence of trust. Leaders who are authentically confident in their abilities and the abilities of their team are more likely to take risks, which can lead to discoveries and breakthroughs. However, risk-taking can also lead to failures, so it is important to create an environment where people feel safe to experiment and take risks. When people trust in their competence and the competence of those around them, they are more likely to step out of their comfort zones and try new things. Trust is essential for creating an environment where innovation flourishes.

As you can see, trust is essential for engagement and success at work. But what can leaders do to create an environment where trust thrives? 

Four Leadership Actions to Make Trust Thrive

1. Be Authentic

In a world where size, wealth, and appearance often dictate success, it can be easy to forget the importance of being authentic. But what exactly does it mean to be authentic? 

Being authentic means being true to yourself. It means having the courage to be who you are, even when it isn’t easy. It means being honest about your strengths and weaknesses and admitting when you don’t have all the answers. You must be willing to open up and share your good and bad experiences. When you do this, you connect with others based on trust and respect.

Authenticity means being genuine, honest, and transparent. It means living in alignment with your values and beliefs. It means not trying to be someone you’re not. When you are honest about who you are, people are more likely to trust you and feel comfortable confiding in you.

There has been a greater focus on authenticity in leadership in recent years. This may be in response to the public mistrust of leaders following a series of high-profile scandals. In a world where so many people are hiding behind a façade, being authentic can set you apart from the crowd and help you build meaningful relationships. Authenticity will make you successful. 

2. Be Fair

Respect is a fundamental human need. We all crave fairness, justice, and to be seen as leaders in our own right. At work, we want to be respected for our ideas, skills, and contribution to the team. And in our personal lives, we want the people we care about to see us as we are – flaws and all. 

Respect is about more than just being polite or following the rules. It’s about treating others with fairness. Authentic leaders build relationships based on trust and mutual understanding. When we respect others, they are more likely to respect us. And that mutual respect is the foundation of strong communities at work, thriving businesses, and flourishing communities.

To be fair, grace every person with respect. Don’t play favorites or make decisions that are biased and without merit. Don’t play favorites or fail to understand how your personal biases influence your choices.

Being authentic requires that you lead by example and build trust with those with whom you work. If you want to be an authentic leader, make sure you are fair and just in your dealings with others. When people see that you are honest and just, they will be more likely to trust you and follow your lead. You’ll receive the same in return.

3. Honor Your Commitments and Promises

It is essential to honor your commitments and promises to lead successfully. This is aided by being congruent in your thoughts, words, and actions to gain the respect of those you lead. When you are respected, you inspire those around you to do their best work and feel included in a collaborative process. This creates a more diverse and successful team when you work at that commitment. By honoring your commitments and promises, you show those you lead that you are a reliable and trustworthy leader dedicated to their progress and success.

To gain the respect of those they lead, leaders must be authentic. This means creating alignment in thoughts, words, and actions. It can be easy to say one thing and do another, but this creates a disconnect that erodes trust. When people don’t trust their leaders, it is difficult for them to follow. Leaders who are authentic and have integrity are the most successful at inspiring others and achieving results.

4. Be Vulnerable

Being vulnerable is not a weakness; it is authentic and creates trust. When you are open and honest about your mistakes, fears, and doubts, people are more likely to trust you as a leader. They know that you are not pretending to have all the answers and are willing to admit when you need help. This vulnerability also allows you to connect with others and build more authentic relationships. So don’t be afraid to be vulnerable; it is a strength that will help you build trust and genuine relationships.

Being vulnerable allows us to learn and grow. When we are vulnerable, we gain insight. This provides insight into seeing others as humans, not just as objects or commodities. 

When we open ourselves up to others, they are more likely to do the same. As a result, we can build trust and understanding. When we are open and honest with ourselves, we are more likely to achieve our goals. 

As a leader, one of the most important things you can do is be a role model for learning. This means being vulnerable and open to new ideas, being authentic in your pursuit of knowledge, and being honest about your struggles and successes. It also means being a coach and helping others to learn. By taking the time to invest in others, you can help them to step into their potential. In doing so, you will build a stronger team and set the stage for continued success.

Bringing it Home

To create an organization that encourages everyone to bring their best selves to work, you need vital ingredients. First, there needs to be engagement between employees and the company’s leadership. This can be fostered by encouraging collaboration among team members and setting an example. The second is trust in the leadership of the organization. Employees need to feel like they are working with people who have their best interests at heart and that decisions are not arbitrary or capricious. Finally, risk-taking and innovation must be nurtured if your team will continually improve and push boundaries. These four principles will help you create a community-oriented environment where employees can thrive and achieve great things together.

And there are four trust-building authentic leadership actions essential for any organizational leader seeking to create a successful and sustainable enterprise. By being vulnerable and open to learning, being fair and respectful to all, staying authentic, and delivering on your promises, you can create an environment where employees feel valued and want to give their best effort. These principles are worth striving for in organizational life. 

How will you put authentic leadership principles into practice starting today? How will your organization benefit?

What are you waiting for? Take action to create meaningful employee experiences that will help your business thrive. 

If you’re looking for more inspiration on working and living authentically, please check out my other blog posts. And as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need help getting started on your authentic leadership journey. Thanks for reading!