Communication: Mutual trust, respect and commitment

Author Northouse explains that “Effective leadership offers when the communication between leaders and subordinates is characterized by mutual trust, respect, and commitment.” Such communication and sincerity in our interactions is key to success. This behavior should be displayed by both top management and throughout the organization. It has long been my aim to instill such values in our organizational culture.

Information is key to business today. When it flows, there is innovation and excellence. When it is blocked, dropped, or misconstrued, our business suffers. Sometimes information doesn’t make its way thru the channels to all levels. Many times, valuable information is held by someone intentionally or unintentionally because one may feel that specific information should be on a need-to-know basis. This can create feelings of exclusion or mistrust in management and erodes trust and loyalty within the company.

To resolve this communication problem in my organization, we established a system of feedback that ensures that messages are communicated to and received at all levels. Two-way communication is always the best methodology to ensure that trust is developed, which leads to commitment in our employees.

Developing relationships is vital to building trust. For example, I use to think of going to the dentist an unpleasant experience, especially when it involved a tooth extraction or an annual in-depth cleaning appointment. However, my present experience is quite different. My dentist always communicates to me about the procedure which I am about to undergo, which establishes a rapport between the professional and the patient. The dentist details the procedures and gives me the option to continue the procedure or not. Importantly, my consent signifies my trust in their abilities and in the mutual concern about my well-being before digging into my mouth.

It is vital in our communications that we remove inaccurate mis-perceived ideas and clearly communicate our intentions. Fear of the unknown can be a debilitating factor, employees that do not know what to expect will fear the unknown and will act on their misconceived knowledge, which can be far from the truth.

Importantly, management must form positive relationships with their employees before implementing an action. Just as the dentist created trust in our interaction, managers and leaders must establish mutual respect in their relationships with employees. Promoting an atmosphere of collaboration creates trust and loyalty.

It’s a well-known fact that when employees become loyal to the company, they become dedicated and willing to work harder towards achieving priorities and fulfilling the company mission. They become eager to take on and complete those extra tasks and projects that are vital to success. I believe committed employees see themselves as stakeholders in the company’s overall success.
Derrick Darden, PhD

(Northouse, 2004)