5 Trust Habits That Effective Leaders Demonstrate

As a CEO, you have a multitude of responsibilities on your plate. Corporate productivity, financial performance, strategic direction, to name just a few. Is instilling a culture of trust on your plate as well? Studies suggest that it should be.

Organizations with a strong culture of trust are more productive and resilient than their competitors. According to a recent report from Stanford News, “promoting a culture of trust … rather than fear encourages collaboration and builds a creative workplace.” And a new study by the University of Sheffield in England reveals that organizations with a strong level of trust are 5% more productive than their industry peers. Being committed to trust in the workplace doesn’t just feel good, it’s good business.

“As a CEO, all eyes are on you. Your trustworthiness is critical at all levels of the organization.”

Building trust takes a dedication of time and effort and must be demonstrated consistently time and again. One need look no further than the recent Volkswagen fiasco to see how quickly trust can evaporate when it is betrayed. As a CEO, all eyes are on you. Your trustworthiness is critical at all levels of the organization.

Here are 5 trust habits that effective leaders demonstrate.

1. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Sincerity is critical and sharing your true feelings, good or bad, will reassure your team that there is nothing to fear from hidden agendas or what is left unsaid.

2. Be passionate about keeping your promises. Effective CEOs recognize that the commitments they make to others are promises and should be treated as such. And if you break your promises, your team will think it is okay to do so, as well.

3. Insist on truthfulness within the organization. We’d all prefer to hear the good news, but tolerating dishonesty and lack of sincerity about the bad news can be an organization’s undoing—the fall of Enron being a strong example of this.

4. Be kind. Remember the golden rule. In good times and in bad, a firm and compassionate hand is always more effective than one that is swinging a stick.

5. ‘Choose’ to trust. To distrust is a choice. If you are looking to create a trusting environment, you musts be a trusting CEO. As in all things, you must lead by example.

Organizations where employees can put their trust safely in their CEO are more likely to be creative, less risk averse and productive. The bottom line is, trust is good business, and it starts with you.

Claudia St. John is founder and president of Affinity HR Group, LLC, a national human resources and management consulting firm specializing in talent selection, workforce management, and human resources compliance. She has given hundreds of presentations and workshops on topics such as employee engagement, common management mistakes, challenges in managing a multigenerational workforce, and building trust and collaboration. Her weekly HR Minute e-bulletin and columns are followed by thousands of business leaders nationwide.