Leadership: Leadership – Instills trust

”Instills trust” is made up of 4 behaviors:

  • keeps promises
  • handles confidential information in a manner that is trustworthy
  • speaks honestly with others
  • models high ethical standards

Perhaps the most important concern for a leader is developing an atmosphere of trust and safety. The word “trust” means “a firm belief in the reliability or truth or strength of a person.” These are all words denoting a high level of maturity and character development, and these must be present to engender trust from one’s staff. If a supervisor has good character and maturity, he or she should be able to develop an atmosphere of trust.

People know you by your word. Keeping promises creates respect and trust. Even the perception that one does not keep promises will injure and reduce trust. Keeping promises means simply that one does what one says, when one says it, without excuses.

Handling confidential information appropriately is a key element of earning and maintaining an atmosphere of trust. Staff will not trust a supervisor who is perceived as not holding sensitive information in confidence. Tolerating improper handling of confidential information by others will also reduce trust. To promote a healthy respect for confidentiality, establish guidelines and procedures for confidential information.

While “speaks honestly” is somewhat subjective, it is critically important for a supervisor to tell the truth and to be perceived as someone who is truthful. If reality or perception of supervisor honesty is a problem in your group, this is a concern that needs to be addressed. Without embarrassing or singling out any staff, put the matter on the agenda for discussion. Admit any wrongs, and clear up any misunderstandings. The problem will not go away without dealing with it.

Each of these previous items — promises, confidentiality and honesty — is an aspect of ethical standards. The thrust of “models high ethical standards” is going beyond the mere conformity to ethical standards to championing high ethical standards in the way sensitive information is handled, the way problems are discussed, and the way policy is applied. Championing high ethical standards includes providing training on the topic and administering discipline for breaches of ethical standards.

For additional growth in leadership – instills trust:

  • Assess the level of trust your staff has in you
  • Read The Power of Ethical Persuasion, by Tom Rusk, MD
  • Take a course on Ethics at your local Community College
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