Trust based leadership and why it’s important to your people

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, successful leaders are no longer solely defined by their authority and hierarchical power. Instead, a new paradigm of leadership is emerging—one centred on trust.

Trust-based leadership fosters an environment of openness, transparency, and collaboration, where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to achieve their full potential. In this blog article, we will explore the significance of trust-based leadership and how you can build trust as a leader.

Understanding Trust-Based Leadership

At its core, trust-based leadership involves building and nurturing strong relationships between leaders and their teams. Leaders must demonstrate credibility, integrity, and a genuine interest in the well-being of their employees. By fostering an atmosphere of trust, leaders create a safe space for open communication, where employees can voice their concerns, share ideas, and take calculated risks without fear of repercussions.

What impacts perception of trust

As identified by France Frei and Anne Morrissin in their Harvard Business Review article “Begin with Trust”, trust has three core drivers: authenticity, logic, and empathy. Frei and Morrissin proposed that people tend to trust you when they believe they are interacting with the real you (authenticity), when they have faith in your judgement and competence (logic), and when they feel that you care about them (empathy).

If trust is lost, it is usually due to a failure in one of these three drivers, so when trying to build trust leaders need to consider and identify which specific driver they may need to strengthen.

People don’t always recognise how what they’re doing or saying (or even not saying) is negatively impacting their trustworthiness. And often, during times of conflict or stress, these patterns of behaviour are exacerbated, which leads to a further erosion of trust.

When trust is lost, it is usually a result of a breakdown in the same driver (authenticity, empathy, or logic). This is essentially your weakest driver, but never fear, we all have one. To build trust as a leader, your challenge is to work out what yours is and to focus on strengthening it.

What is the result when employees trust their leader?

● Staff feel more comfortable sharing thoughts, concerns and ideas without fear of judgement or negative consequences.

Result = open and honest communication

● Team members are more motivated and willing to contribute their skills, knowledge, and expertise to achieve common goals and help the team succeed.

Result = active engagement, collaboration and teamwork

● Staff feel supported and encouraged to step out of their comfort zone, be innovative, and take on challenges.

Result = a willingness to take calculated risks

● Teams have confidence that their leader will provide guidance and support when needed, but they also recognise their own role in achieving results and take responsibility for their work and its outcomes.

Result = ownership and accountability

● Staff are more likely to seek out learning opportunities, ask for feedback, and embrace constructive criticism.

Result = personal and professional growth

● People feel a sense of loyalty towards the team and the organisation and are willing to go the extra mile to contribute to the team’s success.

Result = loyalty and commitment

By prioritising trust within the workplace, leaders can unlock the full potential of their teams, drive innovation, and create a culture of engagement and loyalty. Trust-based leadership isn’t built overnight, but the rewards it brings in terms of employee satisfaction, productivity, and organisational success make it an investment worth pursuing.