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Leadership: The Inside-Out Nature of Trust

Many people talk about the need for leaders to engender trust in their employees. Suggested ways to build trust are through living with integrity, being consistent and fair, recognizing and promoting value and rewarding achievement. But does trust really come from the outside, solely from actions you take? I believe that real trust is an inside-out affair. When we’re trustworthy on the inside – that is, when we know how to trust our thinking – these actions follow naturally, and re-enforce our perception of a leader as trustworthy.

Trustworthiness comes from our relationship with ourselves before it comes from our relationships with others. If you don’t understand what thoughts you can and cannot trust, how can you trust yourself? And if you don’t trust yourself on this most fundamental level – the level of your mental/spiritual life – how can you expect others to trust you?

We all live in a sea of thought, moving through us night and day. Thoughts vary in quality, in their trustworthiness. Research shows that when you feel calm, and/or are having any of the deeper feelings like love, joy, inspiration or gratitude, your IQ goes up, you have a sharper learning curve and are more creative – that is, your thoughts become more trustworthy. On the other hand, when you’re experiencing feelings like stress, being overtired or feeling pressured, your IQ goes down and your thoughts become less trustworthy. You’re more likely to make poor decisions, and have less mental resources to deal with the challenges that leaders face on a daily basis.

So how do you know when to trust your thoughts? By being aware of your feelings. Your feelings are a gift nature gave you, showing you constantly what is going on with your thinking. Leaders who learn about the inside-out, single paradigm view of life naturally become very interested in, and thus very aware of the feelings that come and go throughout your day. These are like the lights on a dashboard;  red light (feelings of stress or pressure) – time to back off from your thinking as best you can, change focus, and avoid having any important conversations if you possibly can. Green light – time to listen and trust that flow of fresh thoughts arriving in your mind, which are usually accompanied by feelings of calm and well being. This is the best time to make decisions and have those important meetings with your direct reports.

Leaders who understand this become trustworthy on the inside – something that people sense. Then the actions you take naturally build trust in others as well.

With Bright Blessings for the New Year.

Love, Annika

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