What comes first… The trust in the top or the bottom?

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I was having a conversation at work the other day and the topic of command and control and trust came up. We were discussing how control can imply a lack of trust in those around you and it made me wonder if the two do go hand in hand.

If I am a control freak (and some say I am!) does this mean that I don’t trust you? Does it mean that I always think you will get it wrong or just that I know how I want it?

Does the person on the end of the control feel like they are being controlled or do they feel untrusted? Is that the same thing?

Looking into this further and with the Edelman trust barometer published this week we focus a lot on the trust in those above us, those who lead us and those who govern us. But what about their trust in us?

I started reading throwing sheep in the boardroom this week (that’s another blog post) and the foreword really struck a cord….

If you were asked to open a restaurant how would you do it? You’re looking after the menu, the design, the building, everything. Now say you plan to open a steak restaurant…. You’re going to need steak knives. Your mind doesn’t then say, ah but people could use these knives to stab other customers so when I design my restaurant I’m going to put all the tables in cages.

That would be madness.

Yet this is how we have come to think about people and employees in business. If we always think they will do the worst we will design business structures, social channels and organisations around the very worst situation, not the reality. And if we do that, it shows a lack of trust in our people. So if the leaders don’t trust the people then why should the people trust the leaders?

And if everyone is thinking about the worst case scenario then they are going to want to control it and do it themselves to make sure that the bad stuff doesn’t happen…

What we need to consider is spreading that load. No one can control everything and if you show some trust then they will show it back… I just wonder who is going to make the first move….

 

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