Trust and Heart in Organisations

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Article 11 December 2018

Below we share post-event reflections and highlights of our “Trust and Heart in Organisations” seminar.

Trust, it is such an evocative topic – allowing us to have rich and stimulating conversations between a large group of clients and friends. Particular thanks go out to our external contributors Jim McHugh, Chief HR Officer, V.Group, and Dr. Brennan Jacoby, Philosopher and Trust Consultant. Both shared their perspectives, research insights, and experiences on the role of Trust in creating business results.

Brennan opened with foundational comments about the nature of trust, helpfully distinguishing it from mere reliability and predictability. His philosophical definition of trust is “the optimistic acceptance of special vulnerability” and this theme of vulnerability ran throughout the evening.

Jim then brought the topic to life by sharing his insights about how to create trust within his own organisation. He talked about the importance of working with teams across the business in a Values discovery process which then became explicit, and now underpins the organisation’s strategy and culture. Jim spoke particularly passionately about the importance of taking time to do this in an inclusive way, rather than simply ‘imposing’ a set of Values - as it is this collaborative process and dialogue that actually builds trust.

Then Deborah Gray, Partner at Sheppard Moscow, shared experiences as practitioners from 50 years of working in this space. Deborah explored challenges organisations face when there is a lack of trust and how this impacts organisational effectiveness. She then shared some of the practical ways in which Sheppard Moscow works with clients to actively and intentionally build a more trusting climate. 

Highlights video, as follows, further illustrates the dialogue of the evening:

As the evening went on, subsequent discussions in groups enabled sharing of experiences with one another and teased out some more fundamental questions. What follows below are some of those insights and Sheppard Moscow’s reflections from the session:

  1. Perhaps one of the most impactful themes that emerged from the evening was the principle of ‘turning towards’ or ‘turning away’ and the impact that showing Heart in that way (even when every inclination is to do something different) can build trust. This could be Leaders turning towards their people, as much as teams turning towards other teams, or individuals turning towards each other. It also includes the idea of forgiveness and how one showing Heart in the form of forgiving can be enormously impactful in the creation of real, human to human relationships

  2. Another insight participants mentioned was the importance of taking time to build trust. Whether that’s in the joint discovery of Values as per Jim’s experience, or even through making time for employees to interact as human beings and build authe ntic human connections

  3. Vulnerability was discussed, a lot. How it can both help and get in the way of trust. We discussed how it wasn’t binary, but rather that a balance is required so Leaders can show vulnerability where it makes space for others to innovate and create, but at the same time show up with strength and courage. Vulnerability isn’t necessarily about making oneself weak.

  4. It became very apparent that a key enabler is the need for psychological safety – and how Leaders can give deliberate attention to creating this, whether that’s through appropriate boundaries and rules in order to create ‘freedom within a framework’, or contracting for how we work together, or creating the conditions for honesty and straight talking. Conversely, the ability to have difficult conversations and to disagree really well – is a sign of high trust.

  5. Finally, we also explored how trust is a choice. Whether that’s the mindset you adopt (in terms of the assumptions you make about others’ intentions) or the behaviours you deploy to actively turn towards. And it is the cumulative effect of the positive and negative impacts of these multiple choices that ultimately influence Trust.

We also reflected on how the theme of the seminar resonates deeply with the core of our own practice here at Sheppard Moscow. In the words of our colleague and Partner Dr Michael Nolan: “Trust has been at the core of our practice since Colin Sheppard and David Moscow launched Sheppard Moscow almost 50 years ago. Their starting point was trust in collective decision-making, but as the role of the Process Consultant emerged, it became ever clearer how essential it is to have strong trust between client and consultant, in every aspect of the partnership.”

To find out more about our ‘Trust & Heart in Organisations’ seminar or if you are ready to spark positive action get in touch!

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Deborah.jpeg Deborah Gray
Roby.jpeg Roby Blass