Executives usually have a strong sense of who they are and how they want to behave. It has been developed and tested over their professional and personal life; leading to a ‘road-map’ that informs how they operate.

Mutual trust is one of the key components of that leadership ‘road-map’ and requires constant nurturing. It often comes down to whether there is mutual respect, that people feel safe and whether they can count on and rely on actions and motives.

These impressions are formed from present and past interactions, fairness in policies and decisions, communication that is open and consultative, control levels that are appropriate, the values and ethics that guide the difficult decisions and consistency of actions.

In many ways, the power balance is not out of kilter.

In my coaching conversations with executives a key question I ask is: “what type of leader do you want to be?” followed by “How will you make this happen?” The discussion that unfolds explores what needs to be in play for mutual trust and what gets derailed when trust is lacking.

Here is a snapshot of those discussions:

Trust _

We feel more comfortable with people we know and like. Stakeholder maps reveal where a trusted relationship needs to be built and maintained, particularly as networks, teams and collaboration are key to business.

The critical relationships are the Board with the CEO; the CEO with the executive team that makes up the C-Suite, Director to Director trust, the Board with shareholders or members; and the myriad of connections and collaborations that exist within and across teams, with colleagues, with providers and, of course, clients.

While the adage ‘trust but verify’ is indicative that one should not be naive, a lack of mutual trust derails a business. Sustainable trust is an ongoing process that relies on maturity, perspective, empowerment, engagement, ethical behaviour and respectful relationships.

Related content:

4 Steps to deal with executive conflict

What every executive grapples with

Power and leadership

Explore the range of services on executive coaching or leader reviews for boards, directors and CEOs

Subscribe to this blog or follow @talentadvisors on twitter or like our Facebook page.

Follow these LinkedIn pages to suit your area of interest:

The Talent Advisors: Busy executives don’t have time to hunt for the more interesting insights. Following this page keeps you updated on a range of ideas, emerging trends or good leadership and governance practices in complex and networked businesses. It is particularly useful for those aspiring to the next level or c-suite.

Aspiring Directors: Aspiring directors can follow this page for mentor tips on aiming for a non-executive board role including how to best be prepared from a nominations committee perspective.



About the author: Dianne Jacobs


Dianne Jacobs of The Talent Advisors, Melbourne, guides and informs businesses, executives, partners and aspiring directors aiming for the next level.