Trust, whether within teams or between teams and the customers and clients they serve, is vital to the enduring success of leaders and their organizations. Yet extensive surveys by Pew and Gallup indicate the general public’s trust in institutions, both public and private, has been in sharp decline for more than half a century. With this in mind, today’s Read to Lead recommendation is Robert K. Greenleaf’s seminal book, Servant Leadership. It’s a dense read, but we recommend it as an essential title for anyone who wants to make a serious study of leadership.
“The only sound basis for trust is for people to have the solid experience of being served by their institutions in a way that builds a society that is more just and more loving, and with greater creative opportunities for all of its people. And it is worth the cost of some chaos and disruption if enough people will read the signs and start building institutions that generate a high level of trust through a quality of service that is exceptional by all previous standards.” — Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership, p. 83
Even the most experienced leaders can find it challenging to overcome the public’s enduring skepticism — but it also presents an opportunity to achieve a new standard of excellence.
Leaders who set the right priorities create cultures in which people reflexively preserve and strengthen trust in an organization’s people, processes, products, and services.
Whether you are guiding an established organization or launching an entrepreneurial enterprise, Greenleaf offers proven advice to help build trust in the midst of a rapidly evolving environment where change is the status quo. North of Center can help you put that advice into practice. Our coaching and consulting work in leader development, organizational communication, and public engagement concentrates on aligning words and deeds to strengthen the credibility of and the public’s trust in leaders and their organizations.
Have you ever struggled to preserve trust as a leader? We’d like to help.
What are the characteristics you believe contribute most to building (or rebuilding!) trust and credibility?
Let us know in the discussion board below or drop us a line directly. We’ll be happy to share additional thoughts and resources you can use to generate trust that propels you and your organization to exceed all previous standards!
Cliff holds a PhD in organization and management with a specialization in leadership. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he completed operational deployments to Fallujah, Iraq and Kandahar and Helmand, Afghanistan. He has led multi-national and inter-agency teams including approximately one year on loan from the Corps as Director of Policy, Planning, and Outreach for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs. He also directly advised the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on public and media engagement regarding national security matters for two years as Special Assistant for Public Communication. Today he puts that experience to work helping people become the kind of leaders they would want to follow.