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  • Writer's pictureMalar Villi

Safety is essential to trust

In our recent leadership programs, trust gets centre stage, a discussion that led us to acknowledge the power of trust in shaping leaders.

What is trust? A feeling or fact? Simon Sinek inspires us in his talk, Building Trust Through Committed Leadership. He asserts the importance of Circle of Safety.

"The whole purpose of maintaining the Circle of Safety is so that we can invest all our time and energy to guard against the dangers outside. It;s the same reason we lock our doors at night."

So how safe do your team members feel at this point? Leaders, need to perceive accurately if his/her team members feel safe around them to speak the truth.

  • Are they cautious or spontaneous with their response?

  • Do they give their opinions or ideas that please you?

I have observed meetings where the leader is oblivious to what the people feel but is in a tunnel vision that expressed agreement is the truth.

Patrick Lencioni, names, lack of trust as the first the dysfunction of a team. Vulnerability, is an indicator for trust levels in teams. The ability to be me in teams, i.e. not needing to put up a front is being in the circle of safety for them.

Imagine this scenario at a workplace meeting.

The leader talks candidly about the challenges of the business and asks for ideas and suggestions for improvement. A young executive courageously shares his brilliant ideas for change that can move the organisation forward. He reiterates that change will have to start with the top management. He went on to gives the example of changes that need can be made at the top leadership level to move the organisation forward.

The room goes silent. The leader thank the young employee and commends his outspoken courage. He encourages other to do the same.

In the next two months, this employee is not able to cope with his work, has been marked to be performing below his level and given Performance Improvement Plan.

He leaves in the 3rd month. The rumour is that the employee was under PIP because of his outspoken nature at the meeting.

How do you think other employees will behave in the future meetings when asked for suggestions, ideas or feedback?

Which part of the story would you believe? Do you see PIP as development plan to help the employee objectively or a strategy to oust an outspoken employee who felt that it was safe to speak out his mind?

What is your experience in the stories that you have heard?

Like all management's answer would be, it all depends on your perception of the truth, isn’t it?

Share your thoughts and examples that you have experienced as we explore the Trust Formula in the next post.

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