Do you trust me?

cubejpgLately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on the concepts of trust and safety in an organizational environment.  Prior to joining MSLOC, I was a disengaged employee working in various teams in a large, hierarchical organization.  I spent nearly every hour of the work day behind a cubicle inside of an interior office with fairly minimal face-to-face human contact.  Team leaders would hound me via email, staff managers were more of a structural fixture than anything else, and the overarching understanding was that everyone kept their heads down and did their jobs.


One thing of particular interest when it comes to leadership and organizational culture is the concept of trust.  Do we trust our managers?  Do we trust our peers?  Do we trust our organization?  And if we don’t trust these people, will we engage in the work we’re meant to be doing?  Will we feel empowered to take action when something isn’t right?  I’ve been doing a lot of research on the importance of establishing trust and psychological safety in teams & organizations and it’s got me thinking… How can leaders foster a safe and trusting environment such that their team members, subordinates, and/or peers feel comfortable speaking up and sharing opinions?  Simon Sinek does a wonderful job of illustrating just how important trust and psychological safety can be for individuals working in teams or organizations:

As I reflect on Simon’s TED talk and the information I’ve gleaned from research on trust and psychological safety, I’ve come to understand that leaders who demonstrate the following behaviors are more likely to create trusting environments for their teams:

  • Being approachable & accessible
  • Being inclusive
  • Building genuine relationships with team members

There are many other ways to foster trust and safety on teams but I feel like these three get at the heart of what Simon Sinek and many others have pointed out over the years.  If organizations want to increase employee engagement, creativity, and innovation, they must create a culture where individuals feel safe and cared for.  Regardless of rank or position, good leaders are people who can foster trust and safety by including others in decision-making, being physically accessible for people to connect with face-to-face, and genuinely taking the time to get to know team members.  As Simon points out:

“Leadership is a choice; it is not a rank”

For me, the takeaway is this: You don’t have to be in the c-suite to be considered a leader in an organization.  All it takes is some thoughtful leadership behavior that works toward creating a sense of trust and safety in your own practice groups, teams, or departments.  We can all be good leaders if we choose to 🙂

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