Leadership requires trust. Do you trust your people and do they trust you?

Trust is essential to high-performing organizations.

Healthy entrepreneurial cultures are generally marked by high levels of trust. I trust that my CEO has a vision. I trust that she means what she says and will make good on her promises. I trust my direct report to tell me the truth and do the right thing, within the framework of values we share. I trust him to handle things when I’m not there, to take responsibility for his actions and to tell me what I need to know.

Do you trust the people in your organization? If you don’t, get better people – without trust you have nothing. And if they cannot trust you, they should get a better organization. When lack of trust is the norm – when being dishonest or deceptive is accepted because “everyone does it” – the best employees and the best customers leave. You get stuck with what’s left.

I’m not naive and I’m not advocating blind trust – trust is something that is earned over time and controls, financial and otherwise, guard against abuses and abusers. That said, my life experience is that people are not “kind of” trustworthy – either they are or they aren’t. And ultimately, you – the owner, CEO, partner or whatever – have to model trustworthy and trusting behavior if you hope to have it as one of your cultural norms.

Many things go into the making of a high-performing organization. My observation is that culture and values are critical to performing at high levels on a sustained basis, and should not be left to chance.

Let me say it again. Without trust you have nothing.