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Building A Culture Of Trust Is Critical In A Fast-Changing World

Three fundamental elements of trust—competence, authenticity and empathy—are key to leaders looking to do well in a world where technology changes are happening at ever-increasing speeds, according to Joe Bassani, a leadership coach at UTC Partners.

Building a culture of trust within an organization is a key component to succeeding as a leader, according to Joe Bassani, a leadership coach at Monterey, Calif.-based UTC Partners who teaches people how to become authentic and effective leaders.

Today, however, changes in technology are forcing leaders to re-evaluate how they work with their employees, Bassani told solution providers attending this week's XChange 2019 conference.  

The U.S. is in what is often termed the fourth industrial revolution, with its focus on artificial intelligence and robotics, according to Bassani.

[Related: 3 Ways to Be a Better Leader for Your Team]  

Unlike prior industrial revolutions, where leaders tell employees what to do and those employees do what is expected in return for pay, the fourth industrial revolution has made it possible for workers to be more creative and produce their own products, Bassani said.

"The people you want to work with you every day are wondering should they work or you or do their own thing?" he said.  

This democratization of technology, as Bassani called it, is causing businesses to move from a traditional transactional model where leaders make decisions that others are expected to follow to a transformational model where leaders treat people more as partners that share authority and responsibility for outcomes and where they look for opportunities and new possibilities together.

Trust, Bassani said, is the base on which that transformational model is developed. "Trust is the glue that binds all of us," he said. "Not just within your organization, but with all the people around us."  

Three fundamental elements of trust—competence, authenticity and empathy—are key to leaders looking to do well in a world where technology changes are happening at ever-increasing speeds, Bassani said.

"When you look at people and consider whether to trust that person, you will be evaluating these three elements," he said.  

Good leaders must show they are competent to build or lead an organization in the face of change, Bassani said. He said he expects that most of us have worked for people who are great guys but wouldn't put our trust in them because they cannot get required job done.

Authenticity, meanwhile, stems from a willingness to hold true to a principle even if it might negatively impact the organization's profitability, Bassani said. He cited as an example Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Pharmacy, who once wondered why his stores were selling cigarettes while also promoting customers' health. Merlo in 2014 decided to stop selling cigarettes, which cost his company about $2 billion, but was able to eventually make up for the lost revenue in other ways, he said.  

The last pillar, empathy, is not always about being kind, Bassani said. "Sometimes, it's a kick in the butt," he said.

Bassani outlined three practices that all leaders should follow.

The first is regular self-reflection, which is actually quite hard, he said. It is important that all leaders take stock of themselves and clearly understand what is important in their business and personal lives, he said.

The second is to find a trusted agent who will provide sincere feedback on their performance as a leader.

The third is to connect with a coach, something the most successful athletes and businesspeople do on a regular basis, Bassani said.

"Get someone to help you look at yourself, where you want to be, what the path is to get there, and how to get around what is blocking your path," he said.  

Bassani's three pillars of trust are something that Matt Beckert, lead systems engineer at Network Performance, a South Burlington, Vt.-based MSP, said he as a professional keeps coming back to.

"I'm always trying to do the right thing," Beckert told CRN. "Building that rapport with your people, and with your peers, is important to success." 

Self-reflection is also super critical for leaders, Beckert said. "It's important so that everybody understands where they stand," he said. "Self-reflection is always hard. But Bassani showed ow important it is. We have to make time for it."

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