The art of leadership begins with the science of building trust. Here are the 8 behaviors to model

"The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two the leader must become a servant".

Max DePree, CEO of Herman Miller and author of The Art of Leadership

The crisis of trust has officially arrived -- but with this crisis comes an opportunity for positive and lasting transformation for both business leaders and the people who they lead.

Does trust within a company culture really have an impact on business results?


PwC, the second largest professional services firm in the world, conducted their 2016 global CEO survey which reported that 55% of CEOs think that lack of trust is a threat to their organization's growth.

But what exactly can a CEO or business leader do to foster an employee's sense of trust in their company?

Asked in a different way, what actions could a CEO take to transform low engagement employees into high engagement and high performance contributors?

Gallup, the global performance-management consulting company, determined that they would answer this question.

Gallup examined which specific components of trust a company focused on to successfully create highly engaged and highly motivated employees.

Their resulting meta-analysis on employee engagement was far-reaching: 82,000 work units worldwide across 230 organizations with 1.8MM employees in 49 industries in 73 countries.

Gallup was able to develop a clear profile of what made up a highly engaged work force

The Gallup study concluded that high-engagement workers trusted 3 key components of their work life:

1) they could establish and maintain a strong connection with their work and with their colleagues

2) they could become a real contributor to the business

3) they could enjoy ample chances to learn

Finally, the Gallup study quantified the actual business results: the top 25% of companies with high engagement employees were 21% more profitable than their bottom quartile counterparts.

Is there really a science to building trust?

Harvard Business Review provided an answer to this question in an article in their Jan./Feb. 2017 edition entitled The Neuroscience of Trust.

The article's author, Paul J. Zak, is a neuroeconomist who spent 10 years with his team trying to answer the question of which management behaviors consistently build a culture of trust.

Here is a summary of his team's findings:

The 8 management behaviors that foster trust

#1. Do you recognize excellence immediately after a goal has been completed?

Best when it comes from peers and when it's tangible, unexpected, personal and public.

#2. Do you induce "challenge stress" - assigning difficult but achievable jobs?

Leaders should check in frequently to assess progress and adjust goals that are too easy or out of reach.

#3. Do you give people discretion in how they do their work -- allowing them to manage projects in their own way?

Autonomy promotes trust and it also promotes innovation because people try different approaches.

#4. Do you enable job crafting -- trusting employees to choose which projects that they will work on?

This enables people to focus on what they care about the most.

#5. Do you share information broadly?

Only 40% of employees reported that they are informed about their company's goals, strategies and tactics.

#6. Do you intentionally build relationships?

Intentionally build social ties at work and express interest and concern for team members.

#7. Do you facilitate whole person growth by helping people develop personally as well as professionally?

Acquiring new skills isn't enough. Managers should ask, "Am I helping you get to your next job?"

#8. Do you show vulnerability?

Asking for help from colleagues instead of just telling them what to do.