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Trust and the leadership gap

April 20, 2011

Dear Visitor,

Thank you for visiting this post.

In June 2014 I was approved to blog on LinkedIn and as part of gearing up my posts I did an updated version of the “Trust and the Leadership” post. So for something fresher I recommend the more recent post:

If you are active on LinkedIn and it makes sense to connect due to our common industry interests or location (Seattle/West Coast), certainly feel free to send me an invitation.

I hope you find some benefit to this post. All my new posts are exclusively on LinkedIn so if you find any value you can “follow” and get notification. I am shooting for one a week.




Leadership, by a company leader or work group leader/manager, has hit my radar, by coincidence, a lot over the last week.

Reading  various items, I spotted a number of references to the “gap” in effective work groups due to leadership style. To note:

  • A blog on the strengths and related weaknesses associated with entrepreneurial leaders. Guess what Mr. Entrepreneur, you are action driven and have lots of ideas but aren’t always tactful, jump around on priorities and don’t always pay attention to detail. Those flaws work against your success and the ability of those around you to perform their best.
  •  A blog on the difficulty of older workers working with and reporting to younger bosses and “inherent” conflicts associated with the generational dynamic and different outlook between the two.
  •  A poll that showed that employees would rather work for an incompetent boss who is nice vs. having a competent boss who is not nice. The fact is either scenario means you will not be successful.
  •  Another survey,  from Gallup research in a book I read called “Well Being”, showing that 45% of men and 30% of women find it unpleasant to interact with their boss. This was characterized based on interaction with the boss generating feelings of depression, anger or frustration.

Pretty sad. Given so many people are unemployed these days it does not provide a lot of comfort that those employed, including the bosses, are not being as productive and successful as possible in their work.

So what is the problem? Is it a personality problem with the entrepreneur? Age or generational differences in a shifting workplace as the Boomers start to exit the workforce and Generation X and the younger Digital Natives take command? Are you living with The Peter Principle-the incompetent leader-as your reality? Now we are getting at least a little closer.

The issue at the leadership level comes down to trust. Does the leader inspire trust?

Good question, you may say, but what do we mean by trust?

In the book “Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey (the son of the “Seven Habits” author) he notes that trust has two key components:

  •  Character
  • Competence

Character is depicted by the attitude and approach you take to a relationship whether it is work related or personal.

Competence is the ability to get things done right in the circumstance of the relationship.

Both are needed to establish a confident trust relationship. Trust overrides whether a leader is Type A or analytical, whether the boss is a man or woman,  younger or older than the staff. Trust allows for an environment where the combination of talents and effective work styles are optimized for performance rather than altered around the personality of the leader.

And what do I mean by competence being circumstantial? Covey gives an example in the book that his wife trusts him as a husband but when she needed surgery she went to a qualified doctor, not him, to have the procedure done. His wife legitimately did not trust him, compared to the doctor, related to her medical needs. That was appropriate for the circumstance.

The same is true at work. People may prefer the easier course of the agreeable, incompetent boss over the tyrant, but in their heart they do not want someone who is an amiable dunce either. They want to know the time and effort they make for their work translates into success.

So as you look at issues at work, ask yourself if trust exists in the relationships. If falling short then ask how you can put aside the blocks and work toward a greater trust on the foundations of character and competence.


Steve Fawthrop

714-876-7062, cell


From → Uncategorized

  1. Conor permalink

    Interesting post, that poll is very intriguing when considering the psyche of the work force.

  2. Everything you said is true, but I have found that in business, trust saves money. I worked at Robert Half International and we spent an incredible amount of time dealing with untrustworhty people. The good news is that I compete with them today!

    Good Blog. Thanks.

    Ken Tudhope

    • stevefawthrop permalink

      Ken, good point about trust saving money. Covey actaully covers that in the book but I just did not make it part of point of the blog.

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