For centuries, quotations have been a powerful way to pass on common wisdom or knowledge. Many quotations today find their way onto Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to motivate, inspire, or influence thinking. Leadership books, even some of my own, use them regularly to augment or highlight messages.
These commonsense thoughts have impact on our day to day work cultures, too. But like any short message, sometimes quotations arrive out of context, confuse an issue, run counter to the latest research, or are easily misunderstood.
So, in the interest of positively impacting workplace trust, I’ve curated three quotations and augmented with commentary, to bring you commonsense wisdom that can assist any leader in increasing work group trust:
Quotations Every Leader Needs to Understand About Trust at Work:
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- This Tom Peter’s quote is an essential: “Trust, not technology, is the issue of the decade.”
Gallup polling continues to confirm what many already know: The majority of employees are disengaged at work. No employee survey is needed to explain why discretionary efforts are tamed, passions for work are fleeting, and ideas tethered. You don’t need to hire a consultant to explain why cynicism is up, enthusiasm is down, and trust is the currency of the new workplace. Just reread one of Aesop’s fables, “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs.” Remember the greedy farmer who wanted more than one gold egg each day? By story’s end he’d killed the goose and was left with no golden eggs at all. No trust. No sustainable golden eggs.
- Trust diminishes when this Ronald Reagan quotation is misapplied: “Trust, but verify.”
Operating with a “trust, but verify” style can be a trust diminishing mistake leaders unintentionally make. While “trust, but verify,” at times can be an essential approach, often it’s detrimental. Effective leadership practices that build trust require knowing when and why to use it. The simple answer? When outcome is essential and matters more than relationship, use trust, but verify. When relationship matters more than any single outcome, don’t. During the l980s cold war, President Reagan made the phrase popular. It referred to information reliability and increased transparency related to nuclear arsenals. In that case, outcome definitely trumped relationship.
- Nineteenth-century novelist Charlotte Yonge offers a secret trust-makers need: “The mistake we make is when we seek to be beloved, instead of loving.”
We get trust backwards. Contrary to popular belief, trust like love, is not earned. If you want it, you have to give it. You may be loveable, but that won’t get you love – only loving will. Sharing, not hoarding information gets you communication, and respect comes from respecting others. As a relationship process, trust is no different. The mistake leaders make is seeking only to be trusted, instead of trusting. If you want to be a trusted leader, you must go first and give trust. But, trust is not a light switch and knowing how to give, grow, and nurture authentic trust is a sign of an effective leader.
Trust at work impacts relationships, bottom lines, innovative solutions, cooperative endeavors, and well-being. While quotations can be helpful reminders and nudges, how and when to give and build trust is a 21st-century leadership skill that requires knowledge and ongoing practice. Want to know how to cultivate trust where you work?
Tips about how to create, give, and operate with new workplace currency of trust:
You’ll find tips and how-tos in my book: Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation