Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Is trust over-rated at the workplace ?

Trust begins with one's own self

Pic from Net

Article first published in +Medium Click here

Trust as a function of leadership — is a current flavour of the season. It is not really a new concept or discovery. But, as in life so in organisations ideas keep coming back. There is, probably, a larger existential reason for it. Over time – values wither to a point of being dysfunctional – that is when nature’s own correction mechanism sets in to restore balance.
Corporate culture was never selfless. Dog eat dog is an old adage. Far from eschewing canine meat in favour of healthier alternatives — the pressures of quarterly results and investors breathing hot air through the ducts of the Boardroom have made organisations more ruthless. Consequently. – professional shelf-lives are shrinking putting ambitious youngsters on an overdrive. In an age of fitness mania – the proverbial rat-race has changed into a sprint up the stairs of a high-rise. In their frenetic rush to reach the sky – there is little time to cultivate deeper personal values for most. Andy Grove of Intel wrote “only the paranoid survive”. Doubt if by that he meant personal paranoia and insecurity — which frequently manifest among today’s C-suite executives.
The result of course is not difficult to predict – fast burn-outs, messed up personal lives and relationships, psycho-somatic ailments and personality disorders. The bottle, sedatives and in some cases substance of abuse (read drugs) are just an arm’s length away. Along the way it wrecks havoc in organisations and families.

So, where does trust come in all this ?

Pic from Net
Was chatting with an old friend and once colleague — who is hanging up his boots from active corporate life after fairly long and illustrious career — that took him quite close to the corner office but not inside one. Since this was a day after his farewell he was in a somewhat reflective mood. In the past 30 years our professional paths had crossed a few times and we did travel together as co-farers on the some stretched of the lonely road. Therefore, we had several data-points to exchange.
We talked of leaders we both admired and even those we did not — despite, in some cases, their truly outstanding successes. We also discussed colleagues — some who had moved ahead and others who were left behind or remained stuck. He shared a few recent snippets — that left me a trifle disturbed as it briefly shattered the image I had of some people. That led me to ponder over worlds like trust, betrayal, loyalty and gratitude.

Here are a few jottings in no particular order of importance:

  1. Trust is what everyone expects from people but not many are able to place it on others;
  2. Both developing trust and feeling the need to trust (others) comes with age and (life) experience; As we grow older — the illusions of invincibility get toned down and we become aware not just of our limitations but also — albeit at a sub conscious level — mortality. But, those with higher Emotional Intelligence tend to mature faster and realise that these softer human values are the true and enduring differentiators of leadership.
  3. Like most human traits — trust is part nature and part nurture. It is important to strike a balance between the two. Sometimes nature has to be corrected or compensated by nurture;
  4. Don’t be naive; But, don’t be cynical either. And, certainly don’t become bitter if let down or betrayed by someone you trusted;
  5. Do not expect anything in return from trusting people; Most importantly do not look for loyalty from people you trust. People are loyal to their needs and not to individuals;
  6. The rewards of trust does not come by way of gratitude or even accomplishment — but through internal growth that takes one to the next level of self-actualisation;
  7. Not everyone can bear the burden of gratitude; Being grateful requires genuine strength of character — to accept one’s own vulnerability and weakness which is not easy;
  8. Remember the number of times others have trusted you unilaterally; how that made you feel and how it shaped your attitude towards them; How often did you go back to thank them?
  9. Trust is not weakness it is means strength; It is about taking risks, making mistakes and preparedness to accept failure (for trusting the wrong person); That is the hall mark of true leaders — that sets apart the stars in a crowd of wannabes and losers.
  10. Never look back — if you trust someone and he/she has delivered say ‘thank you’ and move on.; if they have failed to deliver despite best efforts — say thank you all the more and if they have betrayed or let you down — buy them a drink as in the process made you wiser and a better human being;

Finally, trust is all about us. Before trusting others we must learn to love and trust our own self. Once we are able to do that — the rest becomes easy. Does not matter if those you once trusted think you are hallucinating — because the joke will then be on them.

#Trust #Leadership #Gratitude #Coaching #Psychology