The Barrier To Trust That Most Fail
Have you ever heard a high-ranking leader at an organization mention something and then took it at face value?
Yet a lower-level staff member makes a claim and those that hear on the outside are incredulous at the employee(s) statements.
Situations often arise where a top official will make a claim and most everyone will side with them. And the employee who tries to shed light on the issue or state their side of the story gets ignored because we default to trust those in higher position.
Why do people automatically trust someone higher up without getting all the facts? And likewise not corroborate the facts to validate their employee?
One may say that the leader has more knowledge, is more trustworthy because of her or his tenure and level of responsibility, or their words should be held in high regard becuase of who they are.
But that is not always the case. Often leaders fall short of earning trust, or even the benefit of the doubt.
Great leaders are not swayed by anyone’s claims, no matter how much authority and influence they have.Tweet
During these instances we tend to trust those in higher positions, and marginalize their subordinates.
This is a test of trust that unfortunately, most of us fail. Without any negative intent, we settle into a false narrative of truth because we naturally defer to those in higher positions without checks and balances.
So how can we become better leaders, and better people, to ensure we can give equity and voice to anyone at any given status? Here are a few internal questions to ask yourself:
- Do you play favorites? Is your position more important to you than checking facts that someone at the top claims? In other words, is your priority checking facts or making sure you suck up to key people in the organization? Biases towards certain levels of leadership over other levels is a recipe for distrust. Leaders don’t play favorites.
- Are you making a hasty judgement? Most leaders will pride themselves in displaying their ability to think a matter through before taking any strategic action. But in matters of employee concerns, many times that measured and critical thinking goes out the window. Always think about claims in a methodical and objective manner before coming to a conclusion.
- Did you get the whole story? There is a wise proverb that says “The one who states his case first seems right, until another comes and examines him.” Making sure you get the facts from all sides is essential to creating trust. And critical to keeping the integrity of the organization.
- Can you discern what the real matter is? Quite often the situation presented is only a symptom of a deeper and more severe agenda. Many times a leader makes a claim to expedite results or their career, and employees get squeezed when they bring light to the leaders actions, intentions and passive-aggressive behaviors. Looking beneath the facade of posturing and getting to the root of the matter by asking good probing questions on how each person feels usually sheds light into the reality of the situation.
Employees distrust leaders in their organization when they don’t feel safe, validated or as a resource to be leveraged against. When others default to taking the leaders side and not the employee, this distrust will threaten to undermine the organization at some point. And staff with the best interest of the company at heart will leave to find a culture in which there is mutual checks and balances.
Be neutral. Be measured. Seek objectivity. Fact check, then check the facts again. Ask questions to find the real motivation.
Be mindful of your default when it comes to hearing about employee issues. Chances are good that you’re not hearing the entire story.
Great leaders are not swayed by anyone’s claims, no matter how much authority and influence they have.