By Linda Hill & Kent Lineback Article
“When we talk to managers, we often ask, “Do your people trust you?” Most are taken aback. It’s not something they’re often asked or a question they’ve even asked themselves. After some thought, most eventually say something like, “Well, I think so. I hope so. No one’s said he doesn’t.”
… even as the person in charge, the one with authority, you can ultimately influence people only to the extent they are willing to be influenced by you. And that willingness will depend on whether they trust you. … As the boss, you can demand compliance but you must earn commitment, and the coin of that realm is trust. … As we explore this topic with managers, we find it’s a subject both familiar and unfamiliar. Most people don’t know how to think about it constructively. Why?
First, they often don’t realize how context-sensitive trust is. Your people certainly wouldn’t trust you, say, to do brain surgery on one of their children, and you would find that lack of trust completely understandable. You’re not to be trusted in that context. So, when we ask, “Do your people trust you?” we’re not asking about people’s confidence in you as a person in general — whether, for example, they think you will repay them promptly if you borrow $10. Instead, we’re really asking, “Do your people trust you as a boss?” For them to accept you as a boss, they must trust you in that context. When we delve later into the components of trust, you’ll see why context is so important.
The second reason most managers feel a little lost when they think about trust is that most of us resist the idea that trust is something you can actively and consciously encourage. ….”