Good Outcomes, or Bad? It Depends.

Last month, the results of our Fault Lines Leadership Study showed us “The Biggest Mistake a Leader Can Make” is a very specific behavior – not listening. This month, the data take a new track, as we look at the second most prominent leadership mistake mentioned by the survey’s participants … “Losing Trust.”

James Allen explains in his valuable guide, ‘As a Man Thinketh,’ that our way of thinking significantly influences what we experience in life – either uplifting, positive outcomes … or their evil twin, “the downside,” or negative outcomes. Our thoughts direct our actions … our actions determine our results … and thus, we make things what they turn out to be.

When we consider the leadership mistake of “losing trust,” we recognize this is an “outcome,” as compared to an individual behavior (like we discussed last month about “listening”). Losing trust can be the result of a lot of different things, and isolating a single, specific fault may be difficult. If a leader has lost trust, can we even be sure the cause is just “one thing?” Maybe there’s a whole lot that’s contributing to the problem?

Since trust is experienced by employees on a number of levels – from what’s happening in the overall organization, to the team, the boss, or issues with a peer, or peers – we’re just going to deal with trust between you, the leader, and your followers in this article.

“Trust level” is a good way to summarize the general state of your relationships at work, and how people see you. Managing trust is very important to your effectiveness.

Any Breakdown in Trust Goes Negative

Let’s consider how you really feel about the people you’re leading? Do you trust them? If not, what do they have to do to earn your trust? Because, any lack of trust on your part, is returned with a lack of trust on theirs.’

Think you can hide your feelings? Don’t kid yourself. They know.

A leader who alienates and marginalizes his/her employees will lose them. People want to contribute, and bring something to the table. When they’re not acknowledged and trusted appropriately, they feel devalued and left out. No amount of leadership gimmickry (pizza parties, silly certificates, etc.) will overcome the damage.

An atmosphere of distrust comes from:

  • Withholding critical information your staff needs to complete their work.
  • Creating an unhealthy competitive climate, like pitting one employee against another.
  • Failing to take control over situations which impact others, such as poor performers, conduct, and discipline problems.
  • Promising things and not following through.
  • Not including staff in meetings with supervisors and higher management when the meetings impact their work area or assignments.
  • Failure to stand up for employees – selling them, or their work, down the river.
  • Talking negatively about staff members to other staff members.
  • Any act which is deceitful, or communication that’s misleading.

Not a complete list, but you get the idea.

Manage Trust with Great Care

Good outcomes begin with a good view of your people. Believe in them. Be conscious of your actions. Be led by your integrity. And be absolutely trustworthy in everything you do.

When you establish a good atmosphere, you’ve done your part to create trust. Now it’s up to them … hold them accountable to maintain what you’ve already put into place. You’ll be rewarded for your belief.

– Jerry Strom

For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published.

This article is based on the *’Fault Lines Study: The Biggest Mistakes a Leader Can Make,’ copyright 2013, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, and request our primary findings paper, ‘The Listening Leader,’ which includes ‘Listening Strategies for the Executive Suite,’ at


This entry was posted in Leadership Articles. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *