A Waymark Leadership Primer - Trust

By: Bob Schmidt 




Does your senior team truly trust each other? How can you develop trust in your organization?

At Waymark our leadership program has 5 key principles. All 5 need to be present on a daily basis to have an effective and productive leadership team and work environment. While there is no single solution or easy fix for issues like this, here is what has worked for us.

1.    Only employ people of integrity. Personal integrity is the first principle in our leadership program, and I believe wholeheartedly that it is the foundation of trust in any organization. Integrity is a personal choice for every member of your team, and without it you will not be able to develop trust or respect within your team.

I like this quote that has been attributed to Warren Buffett: “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”  The bottom line here is that you simply can’t build a strong team that includes someone without personal integrity.

2.    Respect everyone’s role and contribution. Respect is also one of our key principles. I have told everyone that would listen that the role of leadership is to make the people in your organization successful. Leadership is NOT about position, authority or control, but rather about making sure that your people have been given the training, resources, tools, and support needed to get the job done efficiently and effectively. Each and every member of the company right down to the janitor has a contribution to make to the success of the business and should be respected for their efforts. Focus on the results that you want and then give your people the authority and freedom to do their jobs.

3.    Work on communication skills. We hear it all the time; communication is key to getting things done right. That is very true, but do your people have good communication skills and habits? There is lots of research that tells us that over 70% of “communication” is not the words that are spoken, but rather our tone of voice, facial expression, eye contact, body posture, etc. Few people are lucky enough to be born great communicators.  The rest of us have to work at it, especially in this digital age where personal communication seems to be a dying art. We have actually had weekend offsites where we spent the entire weekend working only on individual and group communication skills. It’s time well spent.

4.     Have accountability aligned with roles and authority.  One of the best indicators of a high performing leadership team is that they will hold each other accountable for delivering their respective objectives and contributions. Accountability is our final key principle, and it takes all of the other 4 (Integrity, Trust, Respect, and Communication) for honest and meaningful accountability discussions to take place. Most organizations handle accountability as an annual, vertical exercise from employee to supervisor and on up the chain of command. In some companies the accountability discussions are taking place at the coffee station and in the absence of the person being discussed. That is a major problem. True, meaningful accountability is a 360 degree exercise that takes place throughout the organization. 


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