Continuing our series on leadership we turn to the vital subject of “trust” and a concept I developed called “Trustbank”.  If you are going to manage a team member then you need to have built up a good level of trust before the person you are asking to do something for you will be willing to do so, unless under duress.

This example reminds me of the concept of the seagull manager who flies down, dumps on them, and fly’s away.  Without the necessary level of trust, managers can be thought of in that way, as team member may feel that they are being dumped on by a manager who wants to get rid of the work they do not want to do.  However, with the right amount of trust this changes their view of the situation and they are more willing to accept that it is part of their role to complete the tasks that have been delegated to them.

Leaders have to lead from the front on this, they need to engender a high level of trust.  When I was doing the annual review of one of my managers and he asked why I would not promote him.  Out of nowhere came the phrase that I could not promote him because his “Trustbank” was empty.  It is not even a word in the dictionary, but it so described the sentiment I was trying to get across, which was that his staff did not trust him at present, so he would not be able to lead them properly.  After effectively coining the phrase I thought about it and realised that we have a Trustbank with every person we deal with and equally they have one with us.

I have used a safe to represent the Trustbank.  When we start a relationship with someone, unless we have a reputation that precedes us, then we start filling the Trustbank with everything we do that matches their expectation and builds trust.  The more we do the fuller our Trustbank and equally in reverse we start to accept the level of trust we have in our team member.

Low level trust            Building trust            Breach of trust

Unfortunately, there can also be an instance of breach of trust.  This used to get you a longer sentence in court then for grievous bodily harm as so much of business relies on trust and when that is broken it can have serious consequences.  The most obvious breach of trust is when a staff member steals, then regardless of how much trust they had before the event, their safe in now empty and infact they are in overdraft or in the “red”.

Sadly, some managers are trying to lead whilst in the “red” having never built trust, but instead lost the trust of their team.  Companies who are poor at communicating to their staff can equally show a lack of trust and even give the impression that something serious is happening behind the scenes, even when there is no hidden agenda.

So, what makes a deposit and what constitutes a withdrawal:

Now one of the benefits we have as human beings is a gut reaction which can help us judge the level of trust we have with a person and equally we can make an educated guess as to how much trust they have with us.  If I asked you how much trust you had in the police out of 100%, I am sure a number would have come into mind immediately.  Equally if I ask you how much trust your significant other has in you, I am sure a number would have come into your mind.  Think about one of your team both ways and I am sure you will have an instinct about how ready they would be to accept your leadership.

If it is not high enough, do not despair, as realising the position gives you the opportunity to work on it.  The manager with the empty Trustbank was shaken to his core, but he set about changing how he worked with his team and ten months later he could be promoted. It all starts with acknowledging the position and if it is the team member who is low in trust then maybe you will have to have that conversation with them.


The read this series from the beginning click here