If I Fall, Will You Catch Me?


As a kid, I remember learning the basic rules of life from my parents.  I was taught to stand up straight, eat my veggies and to tell the truth.  My father taught me the art of a firm handshake. He said that others would initially define their level of trust in me based on my handshake.

These basic life lessons have stuck with me. But I have noticed that this trust is not in most workplaces. Surveys are telling us that employees do not trust their leadership.  This makes me wonder how we will ever be able to have an engaged workforce if we cannot be trusted.

I remember as a kid playing the trust game. We would close our eyes and fall backwards knowing that our friends would catch us.  How many of your employees would play that game with you?  Would you trust them to catch you?  More important, would they trust you to catch them?

As leaders we tend to gravitate only to those that we believe are capable, predictable and can be relied upon.  Even our communication is limited to only those who are similar to us, and those that we trust.  In today’s world of teams and collaboration, this type of behavior creates a small circle of “trusted” coworkers and employees which sometimes will limit our ability to be effective.

But it is not too late!  Trust that is broken can be mended by consistently engaging in the right behaviors.  Get to know your workforce and learn what matters to them.  Find the commonalities between you.  You will have some common interest even with those that you think are totally different than you. And while engaging with others, ask yourself, if I closed my eyes and fell back, would they catch me?

For more information on becoming a trusted leader, check out this video – How to Build Trust in the Workplace

Janis Burl is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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