According to Legitimate Leadership, commitment of employees to the leader is solely based on trust. Dr Brené Brown (author of the bestseller Daring Greatly and Rising Strong) speaks powerfully on the topic of trust in “The Anatomy of Trust” (http://www.oprah.com/own-supersoulsessions/brene-brown-the-anatomy-of-trust-video).
Brown defines trust as “what I have shared with you that is important to me”. Building trust relationships therefore requires some “face time” for personal matters and concerns to be shared with another. She breaks down what it means to trust someone, what it means to trust yourself, and reveals the anatomy of trust through the acronym B.R.A.V.I.N.G.
This article unpacks this acronym while integrating it with the Legitimate Leadership framework.
Legitimate Leadership says a key problem facing leaders at work in creating trust is to establish a sense of legitimacy for their leadership by mobilising the consent of their people to being led by them. This only happens when leaders have a sincere and genuine concern for those in their charge and enable their people to realise the very best in themselves. Managers are thus accepted or rejected on the strength of their perceived interest in the wellbeing of their employees.
And so to B.R.A.V.I.N.G:
B – BOUNDARIES. All trust relationships have personal boundaries in place – they are known, understood and respected. Boundaries define the limits set in relationships that keep us safe and protected. Clear boundaries allow for mutual respect and consideration.
R – RELIABILITY. Brown says reliability means “you do what you say you will do, and you do it more than once”. Trust is built from knowing that one is consistently reliable, dependable and one follows through on promises made. As a leader, do you walk the talk, do your actions match your words, and do you deliver on your commitments? According to Legitimate Leadership, leaders earn trust through a process of trust and entrustment of their subordinates. With each incremental step of entrustment there is greater trust, and increased trustworthiness, in the relationship between leader and subordinate.
A – ACCOUNTABILITY. Accountability is about being courageous enough to own your part. To own your mistakes, apologise and make amends when appropriate to do so. A central precept of Legitimate Leadership is that a leader gains the trust of his subordinates by the provision of Care and Growth. It is about providing the means and ability to do the job, and then holding them appropriately accountable for performance. Once this is consistently demonstrated over a period, the leadership of the manager becomes legitimate – the leader has established a trust relationship.
V – VAULT. In a professional environment, trust is built through confidentiality – ie, what is shared with you in a private conversation will be held in confidence. Subordinates are looking for a leader who is trustworthy – personal concerns and problems are safe with them; they do not gossip; they can share things in confidence; etc.
I – INTEGRITY. Brown defines integrity as “choosing courage over comfort; what’s right over what’s fun, easy or fast; practicing your values and not just professing them.” Integrity is about being in alignment with your core values even in the most challenging situations. It about remaining consistent in your dealings with others. In Legitimate Leadership, when leaders compromise themselves to serve their own interests, they reveal their true intent to their subordinates, who instantly conclude that management is self-serving and cannot be trusted. But when leaders are driven by values and not needs, subordinates experience them as sincere, authentic and benevolent – and trust them.
N – NON-JUDGMENT. When leaders engage others from a place of non-judgement, it opens a space for free sharing and interaction. People feel more comfortable to be their authentic selves when they don’t feel criticised or judged by another. This is a more empowering way of growing people because they can ask for help without feeling or thinking less of themselves for needing help.
G – GENEROSITY. Being prepared to give of your time, resources, skills, talents and other means to help another. Generosity is believing the best is possible for another and creating an environment to fulfil their potential.
Brown concludes her talk by stating that trusting others requires you to first trust yourself! She says, “We can’t ask people to give to us something that we do not believe we are worthy of receiving. I know I am worthy of receiving when I trust myself above anyone else.”
So, if you find yourself struggling to build trust relationships, consider how you treat yourself!