by Steve Victor


I’ve recently been thinking about the biggest obstacles to building trust as leader in today's world, and how to overcome them. Just like “Drive to Survive”, F1 drivers strive to stay focused amid chaotic and rapidly changing circumstances, companies today are contending with a business environment that rarely looks the same from this month to next month. Building trust as a leader is hard enough already and all of this change and uncertainty can make it even harder.

And if your team doesn’t trust your leadership, good luck inspiring them to perform at their best and hit your revenue goals.

Here are three ways the current business landscape makes it difficult to build trust as a leader:

1. Indecisive leadership is bad for trust-building efforts

Companies started bringing employees back into the office, only to send them remote again when a new variant caused a spike in COVID cases. In the autumn of 2022, they posted so many job openings it was impossible to fill them all. That summer, they started laying people off as the pinch of inflation and rate increases took hold.

It would be a blunder to overlook the ways all of this makes it hard to build trust as a leader. After all, this kind of flip-flopping has a tangible impact on your employees. Ever-changing work-from-home policies are highly disruptive to their workflows, and new fears about job security significantly undermine morale. The more indecisive you are as a leader, the more your employees will see you as a source of turbulence instead of guidance.

2. Remote workflows are too easy to mismanage

Several years have now passed since the pandemic sent much of the workforce into full and indefinite work-from-home mode. Many teams are still working remotely full-time today.

If you haven’t been keeping tabs on the psychological impact this has had on your employees, you could be facing a trust shortfall. Working from home can be profoundly isolating over time. It can cause team members to feel divested from their organisational goals, and undervalued by their leaders.

Building trust as a leader will remain an uphill battle as long as leaders aren’t prepared to reciprocate that trust.

3. Building trust as a leader clashes with economic forces

As inflation persists and the future of the pandemic remains uncertain, companies are making macro-level changes with unusual frequency. Leaders come and go, strategies shift, and org charts are reorganised.

From the employee perspective, this can send the message that company leaders don’t know what they want, aren’t in control, and don’t have a solid understanding of the forces shaping the business world. We’ve discussed the importance of being able to make quick, smooth strategic pivots to navigate economic turbulence – equally important is the ability to make these pivots while continuing to demonstrate stability and control.

Next week I will share what you can do to overcome these obstacles, build a cohesive and aligned team, and execute flawlessly.


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