How Do Leaders Know Who To Trust?

During one of my workshops on "Leaders Create Leaders", a Director from a continental car company raised an intriguing question: “Growing leaders will take up a lot of resources. How do we know who to choose? How do we know who to trust?”

Perhaps this question is best answered by looking inwards, instead of outwards. As leaders, we need to have the awareness and courage hold the mirror in front of us to reflect. Did we spend enough time and effort to groom, develop and coach our staff so that they are worthy of our trust? Do we really understand their strengths and weaknesses clearly to support them in their growth towards a promising career path?

There is an old Chinese adage: “疑人不用, 用人不疑” which means if we suspect someone, we shouldn’t be working with that person. If we work with someone, we shouldn’t be suspecting that person. This implies if we are questioning the integrity of our staff, perhaps we should go back to the basics to re-examine our recruitment process, onboarding process or appraisal process. The bigger question is do we as leaders trust ourselves and the process we have built?

And as much as leaders may be choosing who to grow, our staff are also choosing who to grow with. They are also thinking and measuring up who are the leaders they can entrust to help them grow, develop and gain experience. Are we their top choice? Do we deserve it?

Trust is a two-way traffic. The faster we can offer trust, the faster we can receive trust back. The more we treat our staff as leaders, the faster they behave as leaders. The more we treat them as lazy people that needs to be constantly managed and monitored, they more they will behave and act accordingly. Trust is the heart of a corporation. It is difficult to build and easy to lose. Trust has to be built intentionally by leaders. It is the engine of growth in good times and the superglue of the team in bad times. The cost of not trusting is just unimaginable.

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