Guest Post: Building Trust – Whose Job Is It?
Today I am privileged to host a guest post by Henna Inam. Henna is the CEO of Transformational Leadership, Inc, and author of the newly released book Wired For Authenticity.
Henna’s book uses proven methods of neuroscience to give leaders “seven practices to inspire, adapt, and lead” in today’s rapid paced world.
Today Henna shares about whose job it is to foster trust in the modern workplace.
by Henna Inam
True story about one of the biggest regrets I have in my corporate career. At one point, I was part of a C-level leadership team where the business was facing immense challenges. Our prior two CEO’s had been fired within 18-24 months of one another. We were behind our competition in innovation. We had major supply issues which made our customers unhappy. Employee morale was low. Many of us were new and there was lack of trust within the leadership team as each of the regions fought to get their customers the limited supply of product.
As I look back on my career, one of the bigger regrets I have is not stepping up to stop the dysfunction. I’m not sure I had the skills. I’m not sure that I thought it was my job. At one point, the trust was so low, I’m not sure that I cared enough. It was a career low. I was one of those insidious 30% “actively disengaged” team members that engagement surveys talk about.
Trust and The Boiling Frog Experiment
There is a fascinating 19th century science experiment. As the story goes, researchers found that when they put a frog in a pan of boiling water, the frog just quickly jumped out. On the other hand, when they put a frog in cold water and put the water to boil over time, the frog just boiled to death. The hypothesis is that the change in temperature is so gradual, the frog does not realize it’s boiling to death. While the results of the experiment are in question it is a good metaphor for organization cultures.
Often the lack of trust and engagement creeps up on us. We don’t even feel it coming. We just know something smells funny. Often we’re not sure what to do about it. We’re not even sure whether it’s our job to do something about it.
My goal here is to share what I learned and hopefully prevent you the career regret:
- Do something about it when something smells funny. Even if it’s not on your job description, it’s your job.
- If you’re not sure what to do about it, have an honest conversation with the other boiling frogs in the pot. It’s your job.
- As a team member you are just as accountable as the rest to create trust on the team – even if that means owning up to the lack of trust you feel with others. That takes courage. It’s your job.
- If you don’t think your boss is willing to listen, give it another try. Try another way to talk to them. Find someone else to help you. It’s your job.
- Learn how to have difficult conversations that rebuild trust when it is broken. This requires authenticity and accountability. It’s your job.
As one of my C-level clients says “Our job is to manage conflict. Easy jobs don’t pay well”. I hope this inspires you to take some action and save some frogs in the process. We’ll all be glad you did.
Henna Inam is the CEO of Transformational Leadership Inc., and author of Wired for Authenticity – now available on Amazon. Learn more about her work at www.transformleaders.tv or connect with her on Twitter @hennainam.
This blog post was first published on my Forbes.com blog, and then again on September 11, 2013 at http://www.transformleaders.tv/building-trust-whose-job-is-it/