Giving TrustTrust Across America – Trust Around the World is an organization highlighting the importance and value of trusted leaders and organizations. They have launched a week long campaign – Trust Giving 2014 – to highlight perspectives on trust.

Trust is critical to making any relationship or organization function in a meaningful, productive way. As a value, trust is one of those things we know it is working when we experience and believe it. As soon as something seems to break that bond, we grow skeptical quickly. Trust is given, just as trust is received. In the middle, we decide if the trust is real or fake. (tweet this)

In the spirit of the Trust Giving campaign, what does giving trust really mean? Trust is not like a big hug, although we know when we feel trust. (tweet this) Trust is not an art piece, although we know when we see trust work in amazing ways. Trust is not something we intake like piece of cake, although we know how trust can satisfy basic needs for a fulfilling culture.

What does giving trust really mean?

Giving trust means:

  • We can maintain relationships that work, grow, and bear valuable fruit in what we produce.
  • We can be honest in our conversations and expect a stronger understanding in return.
  • We can do our work with no fear of second-guessing or behind-our-back maneuvering.
  • We can pursue a higher purpose instead of planning how to appease or work around personal politics.

As the givers of trust, we focus on our relationships, conversations, work, and purpose. What unfolds is marvelous. A magical balance of giving and receiving happens. We work in a state of harmony and happiness. Satisfaction soars as we are able to achieve much.

As good as this sounds, it seems to rarely happen in our workplaces. Leaders do not focus on being givers of trust. Imagine the leadership and culture change if they did.

Millennials: The trust factor

Millennials are a force in our workplaces now and more are on the way. Trust is a factor as they have an impact on leadership and culture. As they enter, trust is at an all-time low. According to Jean Twenge, Ph.D in a recent study:

“In the mid-1970s, when baby boomers were coming of age, about a third of high school seniors agreed that ‘most people can be trusted.’ That dropped to 18 percent in the early 1990s for Gen Xers — and then, in 2012, to just 16 percent of Millennials.” (Study: Millennials less trusting than Gen X was, September 4, 2014)

I remember when I was a 20-something entering my first jobs. I was full of trust and why not? I was raised to do what I said I was going to do and also to do my part to leave something better than before.

As I entered my first job, I saw how one leader became more and more self-absorbed, losing sight of what mattered in the work we did. Later on, I saw a different leader pay certain people more so he could build alliances within the organization. In our careers, our trust radars begin to sharpen and we recognize when trust is evaporating. (tweet this)

Unfortunately, Millennials have their trust radar already highly-tuned. With social media and other ways to be more attuned to untrustworthy events, Millennials are optimistic and realistic.

Millennials: The trust leadership challenge and opportunity

The Millennial leader challenge is to return trust to our workplaces and communities and be givers of trust. I believe Millennials are well-equipped to do this and lead well from a core value of trust. Millennials have already experienced what distrust delivers to our financial, business, and political systems, and I am confident in their desire to be problem-solvers and purpose-driven.

Giving TrustA key place to begin takes us back to what giving trust means. For Millennial leaders, leading as trust givers means:

  • Build meaningful relationships based in trust – do what you say, say what you do.
  • Have honest, unfettered conversations to understand problems, situations, and scenarios.
  • Focus on the work to be done in order to advance your team, organization, and community objectives.
  • Lead on purpose always – focus on the higher purpose of the work to be done, remain purpose-centered and avoid being self-centered.

Solid, open relationships will keep your conversations honest and meaningful. With good relationships and conversations, your work will be productive and result-oriented. An enduring focus on purpose will keep your intentions transparent and inspiring. This is the challenge and opportunity for Millennial leaders.

What can others do now? Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders highlights some solid ways for older generations to return to trust and starting within our own circles of influence is an essential place to begin. Tim’s advice applies to all generations.

Let’s work together in trust, across generations. Let us all be trust givers.

Are you ready? How will you demonstrate your leadership in giving trust?