Leadership and Trust for Directors

Leadership is about inspiring and motivating groups of people to achieve their best. To achieve this it is essential for directors to first create a trusting environment where people are not afraid to admit to and acknowledge mistakes and shortcomings. Team performance can often be changed for the better or for the worse, simply by changing either the leader or some of the actions of that same leader or director. Good leadership by directors encourages a better outcome from the group and creates a sense of purpose and belonging.

But what makes a good leader? How can one use these skills to bring out the best in a team? What are these skills? ‘Leadership and ….’ is a series of articles focused on these questions and more, exploring the different aspects of leadership and how directors can best to achieve better leadership.

In this particular article, I will be discussing Leadership and Trust for directors. Inspiring and encouraging rust is an essential quality of any good. If you have no faith in the person in charge, then there is most likely no respect and no desire to work for the said leader.


The Two Types of Trust

From a psychological standpoint, there are two forms of trust when it comes to leadership; cognitive and affective trust. They are also known as the trust of the head and trust of the heart, respectively.

Cognitive trust is often based on factual evidence and logic. It is to do with how much confidence you have in your leader’s technical ability to get the job done. It can be associated with material possessions such as prizes won, or qualifications earned in their specific field.

Affective trust is less logical. It is the confidence one person has in another based on how much you care for that leader.  That in turn is based on the level of care and concern that the leader has demonstrated for you and for the rest of your group.  It is much more of an emotion, than a reasoned thought process.

Everyone is different, and therefore some people say cognitive trust is the most important quality in a leader or director, whilst others would argue affective trust is key. However, because cognitive trust is evidence based and logical, it cannot easily be improved.  It takes time and effort to acquire new qualifications and skills, such as a Masters in Business Administration, MBA.

On the other hand, affective trust is less logical. It is based on emotions that can be directly related to the behaviours of the leader director.  These behaviours can be changed relatively quickly; not easily, but arguably with much less effort and time than it would take to acquire an MBA.


What is Trust?

Having ascertained the basis of trust, the next step is to identify what trust is. Trust is the expectation that another person will work to help the team move forward, not just themselves. That they are invested in the company rather than just self-growth. Trust consists of five key elements.

Integrity builds on the idea of consistency within values, actions, principles, methods and outcomes. With integrity comes the want and need to do the right thing for your team, not just in front of them to impress people, but at all times you are looking out for everyone.

Competence does not necessarily mean that you know exactly how to do everything, it leans more towards knowing what to do and how to get it done. Not only having the knowledge to get the job done but accepting that you will not always know the answer, is a defining part of being competent.  Effectively “knowing what you don’t know.”

Consistency is key to building trust. If you act cheery and welcoming one week, but then the next you are much stricter and seem stand-offish, people will not know where they stand with you. It is more difficult for team members to take the initiative if they have no idea how you will react to them, even if they think they are doing what is best.

Loyalty is often earned by first giving it. Similarly to integrity; loyalty involves putting the team before yourself. Having an empathetic approach and taking responsibility for your own and your team’s needs, both show and generate loyalty.

Openness is crucial to building a stronger connection with your team. If you are open, willing to acknowledge mistakes and are approachable. This in turn, will generate a feeling that you and the team are working as one, rather than them simply working for you. Openness and a willingness to acknowledge mistakes, builds trust and confidence in you as a leader and helps you to appear more humble.


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