Trust: Booster for leadership effectiveness

LAST UPDATE ON June 28, 2023

Trust as a leadership behavioural trait does a few things. It changes the way people respond to a leader. It identifies and validates a leader’s motivation. It assures others if the leader is acting out of self-interest or the interests of the organisation. It convinces coworkers that the wool is not pulled over their eyes or that they are being taken advantage of.

When combined with virtually every other leadership behaviour there is not just a change in the leadership effectiveness index but a dramatic improvement.

If trust is a cornerstone to boost leadership effectiveness, how do you build it in your team?

Trust and employee engagement

Based on research by Zenger Folkman, the combination of high trust with communication skills significantly increased employee engagement by 24 percentile points into the top quartile, which is the goal for many organisations.

In the study, the employee engagement score was measured against a five-item index

i.  extent to which direct reports are satisfied with the organisation
ii.  direct reports would recommend it as a good place to work
iii. direct reports have confidence the organisation will achieve its strategic goal
iv. extent to which direct reports are willing to go the extra mile
v. willingness of direct reports to continue working for the organisation.

In a 2022 Leadership Skills Report by Zenger Folkman, it was found that one of the things leaders can do to restore resilience and confidence in their employees is to continually communicate the vision and direction of the organisation and connect that to the work employees do at every level. However, what happens if you’re able to do that well but the trust level with your team is lower than desired? They may question your motives and ultimately their commitment to the vision and the work involved would be reduced.

Trust and leadership competencies

Trust not only has an impact on employee engagement scores but also on other key leadership competencies. Based on research by Zenger Folkman, when trust is combined with 12 of the competencies, the employee engagement scores moved to the top quartile.

Building trust in uncertain times

The COVID19 pandemic, now moving into an endemic mode, is not the first time organisations have had to lead in uncertain times. Financial crisis, changes in customer demands, technological advances and so on have shaken up organisations and also caused the workforce to feel strung up.

According to a 2022 study by Zenger Folkman, the number one leadership behaviour that is important to a remote workforce is trust. It is evident that trust is a pertinent leadership behaviour in normal work arrangements as well as hybrid ones that include a remote workforce.

How then can you build trust?

Trust building experts and consultants, Reina Trust Building, offers seven tips to support leaders in creating effective, productive relationships during uncertain times.

Build trust into your strengths

If you’re looking to improve your leadership effectiveness, consider incorporating the trust trait into your strengths. Increasing the trust level in the equation enhances the strengths that you already possess which eventually only improves your overall leadership effectiveness.

Work on improving your trust levels and pay special attention to how you can do that during these uncertain times. It will make an impact not only on your leadership effectiveness but also on your employee engagement levels.

©Published by Lifeskills Institute Pte Ltd

Lifeskills Institute is the strategic partner of Zenger Folkman for Singapore and Malaysia. Our Chief Enabling Officer, Ian Tan is a Master Facilitator certified by Zenger Folkman. Lifeskills Institute is also a Certified Trust Practitioner of the Reina Team Trust Scale by Reina, A Trust Building® Consultancy.

Zenger Folkman is a strengths-based leadership development company helping leaders elevate their people and organisations. Co-founders Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman utilise empirical data and behavioural evidence to help leaders become extraordinary.

Reina, A Trust Building® Consultancy focuses on the comprehensive study of trust-building: defining it with measurable benchmarks and applying that knowledge to organisations so people and workplaces can thrive.