Do you trust me? Trust you with what?

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Issued by: Chillisoft Solution Services
[Johannesburg, 23 August 2018]

August has been a gruelling month… not only does it mark a stressful realisation that we are six months into the financial year, this August has also highlighted the loss of legendary leader Kofi Anan, who has inspired the world. The events, in August, the month that South Africa celebrates women and mourns the Marikana massacre, has demanded that we reflect on the role of leaders and governing boards since their public messages don’t match their actions.
Thankfully, poor leadership actions eventually seem to trigger a vocal backlash and media outcry. If it is a listed company, the dwindling trust is promptly reflected in the plummeting share prices. However, in society, governing bodies and many businesses, poor leadership actions are followed by apologies and a list of corrective actions that are seldom implemented. Yes, leaders make mistakes, but in the absence of transparency, dialogue and communication, an apology may temporarily stem the backlash; it is seldom enough to restore leadership trust.

Trust: that popular word that has always surfaced in self-improvement, personal growth communities is now commonplace in the corporate world, particularly in software development and leadership training. What is it? Why is it important?

According to a journal paper: “An integrative model of organisational trust” that was published in the Academy of Management, trust is the “willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that other party.”

Given this definition, it does not seem far-fetched to hypothesise that many females have chosen and still choose to leave STEM careers because they refuse to place their trust in organisations and bodies that don’t represent their interests. This seems like a reasonable hypothesis since this holds true for software developers.

An understanding of trust is important because each situation should be assessed in terms of contextual factors, such as the stakes involved, the balance of power in the relationship and the alternatives that are available to individuals. It is for this reason that it is critical that individuals who are in leadership positions and boards assess their words, actions and corrective action carefully. An apology is insufficient to restore trust that is broken. A series of continuous actions that demonstrates ability, kindness, integrity and propensity to trust is required to restore trust.

Trust is critical and an absence of trust has a direct impact on the bottom line. It is important because it creates a sense of belonging, connectedness, fairness, security and autonomy. In knowledge work, particularly in software development, trust influences motivation and commitment, which impacts performance. The absence or dwindling of trust causes knowledge workers to leave companies.

Chillisoft understands that the attributes and behaviours of trust needs to be unpacked further. DevFluence, Chillisoft’s school of training for professional software developers, will soon be announcing a course that is designed for aspiring leaders to build trust in their teams, by demonstrating it in their daily actions.

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