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Tim Hadfield

Accord Engagement

Managing Director

Read more about Tim Hadfield

Blog: The power of trust


The bloodshed and killing in Syria goes on unabated. Yesterday the news was full of stories casting doubt on whether the peace plan will be respected and hostilities suspended.

And as the deadline for the withdrawal of government troops and weaponry from population centres approaches, the government and the opposition forces continue to trade demands with neither side apparently able or willing to take a committed step towards peace.
I’m not making a politicial statement here and I’m not apportioning blame – that just appears to be the reality.
Later in the day yesterday I was reading a book entitled ‘One Foot Out The Door’ by Dr. Judith Bardwick. In it she writes about trust and I came across the following statement: "Trust may be the single most important condition underlying every kind of relationship and behind every achievement."
My initial thoughts when I read it were about Syria – about the complete absence of trust between the opposing political forces. I then began to think about trust in business and in people’s personal lives.
Trust is surely the key ingredient of positive relationships. With trust boundaries can be bridged, relationships can be built, issues can be resolved. If there’s no trust there’s mistrust – there’s no neutral, it’s one or the other. Trust is constructive, mistrust is destructive.
Hard won, easily lost
Where there is mistrust, disagreements are magnified, relationships destroyed and viewpoints polarised. Without trust there’s no effectiveness in relationships. With trust comes cooperation, without it just conflict, and suspicion of others’ actions and motives.
If organisations don’t trust their people the focus is on controlling them, on checking what they’re doing, on monitoring their output. Rules and regulations are tools to ensure adherence. Disagreement is seen as insurrection.
But in environments like this whilst employees might obey the rules, they don’t innovate, create and cooperate. They comply, doing just enough to get by. And the power of collective effort to deliver objectives, to achieve success, to accomplish the vision is subdued.
So how is trust created? Trust is a feeling that develops as a result of experience. It’s a feeling that develops from experiencing TRUTH. That’s it. Truth is people always, always saying what they mean and behaving in a way that’s consistent with their words.
In business it’s about the way leaders behave. And without it leaders have no followers. Leaders earn trust through their actions and as the saying goes "it’s hard won and easily lost".
It seems inevitable that it will be a long and hard road back to trust in Syria…..

Tim Hadfield is managing director of culture development consultancy, Accord Engagement.

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One Response

  1. How to build trust

    Tim is so right to emphasise the importance of trust. At ILM we have been measuring leadership trust for three years now and have identified some critical organisational factors that shape leaders’ ability to build trust, of which organisational size is the most significant. However, leadership behaviour is the thing that counts – leaders need to be competent in their jobs and understand what the people they lead do, be open to ideas and treat people fairly, and behave with integrity and consistency. Of these six, integrity and competence are very much the keys.

    In Syria, it’s difficult to see a lot of evidence that the regime is open and fair, or behaves with integrity. Given this, it’s likely that there is a huge trust deficit, making it very difficult to resolve the problems that are so damaging the country.

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Tim Hadfield

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