7 Behaviours that Erode Trust from a Leader

By Sylvia Plester-Silk, Principle Catalyst, Author and Coach at On Purpose Consulting

Trust and integrity are often used terms in business.

Do you ever take the time to reflect on the level of  honesty of your personal behaviour? When we become stressed, our behaviour tends to revert to less than optimal behaviour. One of my consulting clients, a manager, always prided himself on being honest, yet often failed to be clear and direct with his thoughts and goals to his staff. When he engaged in this behaviour, his staff became stressed and much less effective in their work.

Sometimes we can experience “creeping” of our ethics and this impacts those around us – our board members, our direct reports, our relationships and our association members.
Ask yourself if you have engaged in any of the following behaviours:

  • Embellishing things. This can be either exaggerating how wonderful something was (when it was only okay or good) or how bad things were (often done to illustrate your point and get others to side with you on an issue or strategic direction).
  • Talking about other people. Have you found yourself complaining about someone’s behaviour behind their backs? If you are gossiping like this with your board members and volunteers, rest assured, they’ll be wondering what you say behind their backs. As a result, their trust in you becomes eroded.
  • Rescuing people. Do you have a tendency to become uncomfortable when others are receiving feedback that is uncomfortable? I’ve witnessed senior managers who start to defend an individual in this situation despite having very similar concerns themselves. This creates confusion for all. No one is clear on what you really think and your credibility becomes eroded.
  • Ignoring bad behaviour and rewarding positive behaviour. As an association executive, you need to ensure that you are giving equal weight to both successes and areas of growth. When you fail to hold others accountable (including yourself), you fail to allow their growth.
  • Sugarcoating your message vs. giving clarity on where you really stand on a topic or issue. Perhaps you are looking for the perfectly political phrase to announce in a meeting rather than speaking in a direct and respectful way. What is driving you to find the phrase that pays? Are you attempting to get “buy in” or manipulating vs. allowing your members to understand what is really happening?
  • Asking others to complete tasks or projects or reports and then redoing the work without sharing your rationale so they can grow. This micromanagement technique will certainly give you rationale to continue to micromanage. When you don’t coach your volunteers, or direct reports, to complete strong reports or projects, and then redo them yourself, they become offended and insulted and will lose the incentive to do great work. After all, why put all that work into something if it’s only going to get redone by someone else?
  • Making decisions that could easily and effectively be made by others. When you take over control, your board members and volunteers will start to rely on you to make all the decisions. And, when those decisions aren’t the best, you can expect blame to come shortly. Encouraging responsibility and ownership at all levels of the organization is a key facet to a successful organization or association.

Take the time to review these 7 areas – have you gotten feedback (whether verbal, written or even non-verbal) from others that would suggest you’ve been engaging in these 7 self-defeating behaviours? If so, and you genuinely want to change, look for an Executive Coach to assist you in greater self-awareness and change.

Sylvia Plester-Silk, is the principle Catalyst, Author and Coach at On Purpose Consulting.  On Purpose Consulting offers solutions to better understand the interpersonal dynamics of teams in organizations and coaches leaders to shift the dynamics in their teams and increase productivity. For more information www.onpurposeconsulting.ca