Building Trust to Succeed


By Rand O’Leary

When it comes to building a strong leadership team, choosing top talent isn’t the only priority; building a culture of trust is also essential to growth and success. According to a recent PwC survey of more than 1,400 CEOs worldwide, more than half of organizational leaders believe a lack of trust is a serious threat to the success of their teams and their business. However, if you are aware of the importance of trust, and actively working to make it part of your workplace culture, you can use it as an asset to your organizational function, rather than a liability. 

Environments where trust is a key component encourage innovation, increase the pace of decision making, and often team members outpace their competition. The Workplace Therapist Brandon Smith insists, “Trust enables teams to not just take risks but also to move more quickly. There’s little second-guessing in high trust environments because team members assume there’s positive intent.”   

It’s hard for teams to move forward effectively if they don’t trust each another. Instead of innovating, they are second-guessing each other, unnecessarily reworking tasks, or relying on one or two key team members to get the work done. I have found that when you have trust, things move much more efficiently. You have the ability to take the risk because your team feels comfortable and supported. Trust is key, and risk, innovation, growth, and expansion can only happen when you have a solid foundation of trust to build upon. 

To maximize your organizational potential and lead in your sector and community, you have to create a climate of trust and transparency. Some of the ways you can build trust include:

  1. Communication. As a leader, it’s my responsibility and the responsibility of my leadership team to commit to the ongoing improvement of our own communication skills and strive always to communicate clearly and effectively. This also means we need to listen to what our employees and medical staff are saying, verbally and nonverbally, provide feedback when appropriate, and encourage dialogue. It’s also a good idea to communicate less over email and more face-to-face when necessary. This makes you a real part of the workplace and a more active voice in organizational operations. 
  2. Transparency. Make sure your leadership style is open, honest, and straightforward. When something goes wrong, own it and be upfront about the issue. When a goal or milestone is reached, share that too. By sharing where the organization is headed and staying communicative about its future, you become someone your employees begin to trust, and as a result, they will respect you more as a leader.
  3. Connection. Taking the time to get to know the people on your leadership team and throughout your organization is key. What are their interests? Their priorities? Their strengths? What about their short- and long-term professional goals? How can you help them work toward those goals and provide organizational support to help them advance? These connections build cohesiveness, and ultimately trust in the work environment. 
  4. Availability. As a leader it’s important to be available to your employees and medical staff. You can’t lead in a vacuum, and if you truly want to be involved in the operations of your organization, you have to be available. Not only will that help you build operational excellence, it will go a long way towards building trust. 

As leaders, we are responsible for building trust in our organizations and leading by example on every level. The more effectively we can connect organizationally, the more effectively we can innovate and serve our communities. 

Rand O’Leary, FACHE, most recently served as the PeaceHealth Chief Executive for the Oregon Network. He shares his thoughts on leadership and the healthcare industry at