Magazine article Communication World

What Trust Really Means

Magazine article Communication World

What Trust Really Means

Article excerpt

A business leader once told me, "I never want to get too close to my employees. If they fear me, I know I have their respect." I can still hear the alarm that went off in my head. I couldn't disagree more. Not only does fear not build respect, it creates an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust. It was clear to me that an unhealthy culture was brewing in that organization, right there along with that fear. Any small infraction could result in public humiliation. Employees hesitated to talk to one another for fear that it might be interpreted as socializing on the job. Triumphs were minimized and mistakes scrutinized. And when things went wrong, there was always the time and need to assign blame.

What this business leader and others who share his opinion don't realize is that real respect requires trust, and that fear and trust are near polar opposites. For employees to be engaged and motivated, they need to feel that their work is worthwhile, that they are contributing to something important. Respect for a leader is directly related to that person's ability to offer employees what they need to perform well, follow through on commitments, communicate honestly, reward justly and compensate fairly. …

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