Trust is critical for effective leadership.

In an organization, where there is mutual trust, an immense amount of psychological energy can be brought to the organization's mission. If that happens, employees are said to be "actively engaged". It is the condition in which the mission, the organization, and the relationship have the very best chance of flourishing.

When level of mutual trust declines so does the commitment. If employees are "passively engaged" and there is a general feeling of continuity, but the commitment is fragile or tenuous. The engaged state allows people to stay in a relationship or a job until either mistrust replaces trust, or a better relationship or job comes along.

When mistrust sets in, "active disengagement" permeates most relationships. There is no commitment to the organization, its mission or the relationships. Instead, most of the time, people are looking for ways to harm the organization or the manager who, they perceive, has harmed them.

When managers' behavior reflects their egotism, greed or hubris, employees don’t trust them. Power-hungry micro-managers who bark orders at their staff are seldom trusted. When they break their word and lie they lose trust. When people show no respect for others or trust in them - they in turn, will not be trusted.

In the vacuum of trust, mistrust rushes in and fills the void. Mistrust is dangerous and expensive. It means people expect the worst and behave in line with that. Leaders become ineffective because only shared values and trust can really govern behavior given the wide range of possibilities of what could happen. In the face of mistrust, cooperation and teamwork are merely slogans shouted out by executives. Everyone watches their back and not anyone else’s.

And once mistrust is the norm, it is almost impossible to recreate trust.

Leaders are impotent because they do not have followers, and nothing requiring teamwork gets accomplished. No matter how strategic the insights, without a culture of trust nothing will happen.

Trust is the key to effective leadership and employee engagement. Read Full Post