I meet with a CEO. She says “I have figured out that people here don’t trust me. I can even see how this lack of trust is affecting our business. I have been watching people talk out in the parking lot. I am aware that they are talking about me, about our leadership team, and about how they don’t trust me or the team. I realize I need some help from an objective outside professional. I called you because you are willing to get to the root of the situation and not just gloss this over with some kind of trust building exercise. I understand that this is very serious to our ability to function as we should.”
I respond first with a question “Are you really sure you want to undertake what is required to get to the root of what is going on?”. I am well aware that it takes a lot of internal strength, will, determination, and courage for a CEO to do so.
She nods her head and says, “This is going to be tough to turn around. I understand that in life, when trust is broken, it is difficult to establish it again. I will do what it takes. There is a lot riding on us improving our performance”.
As a leadership and organizational development consultant, I am only too aware that the likelihood of establishing trust again is going to depend on this woman in front of me having the courage to keep going once we get started. I feel that she has the inner strength to do so, and so I begin. We talk a bit about how futile it is when a CEO or other leader says ‘you can trust me’ or ‘we are one big family’. I then give her three beginning point questions to reflect about before we discuss her insights.
- What is your level of trust in your organization?
- What is your level of trust in yourself as a CEO?
- What is your level of trust in yourself as a person?
I cover topics such as this one in The Genuine Contact Way: Nourishing a Culture of Leadership. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, and are willing to do the inner work of improving your leadership, going through this book is a great way to catalyze your own insights.