Trust: The Engine Oil for the Journey to Professional Paradise

As a healthcare leader today, you’re like Lewis & Clark – navigating unknown territory with the resources that you have available. The team members that report to you are facing the same challenges. They are looking to you for guidance as they navigate the unknown terrain as well. The majority of these team members want to be engaged, every step of the way, and they are waiting for you to lead them to Professional Paradise – even in a pandemic.

Trust is the Oil That Greases the Engagement Wheel

Trust is the ultimate safety net for people. When you trust someone, you will follow him or her most anywhere. You value the time spent together. You support this person’s decisions and him or her personally.

Here are three ways to build trust between you and your team members: 1) authenticity; 2) transparency; and, 3) autonomy.

Trust starts with authenticity. According to, authenticity means genuine or real. Are you consistently genuine in your interactions with your team?

At your core, who are you? Why do you come to work every day? What gets you satisfied, energized and productive? Is your leadership role a good fit for you (and the team?)

Reflect to Connect

What’s one thing you could do differently that would make you more authentic in your work with your team?

Transparency is the cousin of authenticity. Being transparent means others can “easily see thorough you” ( – your motives and methods are clear. You share important beliefs, mindsets, information, plans and data. An old school mindset might be that having information is power…that the person who knows more is in a better position of command and control. That doesn’t work anymore (if it ever did). In today’s rapidly changing work environment, information sharing is key.

Educating your team about ALL areas of business and clinical management is the only way to create a sense of engagement, every step of the way. Your team (of competent adults) doesn’t want a mother or father who “protects” them – they want to be partners in care delivery and unit management.

Reflect to Connect

What information are you holding back that would be more powerful when shared with everyone on the team?

The third strategy for building trust is autonomy. Whereas authenticity and transparency are about you and your interactions with the team, autonomy is a gift you give your direct reports. Autonomy is allowing team members the freedom to do their own work in the way they want to do it.

Autonomy means giving up the “how” component of specific jobs. Of course, folks need to earn the autonomy you give them. As a leader, the buck stops with you. Safety, quality & satisfaction outcomes land in your lap so you have to be sure your team can deliver on the desired promises you make. Giving up control is often easier said than done.

Unfortunately, many leaders have the belief “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Many of you garnered the trust of your bosses by doing things well yourself. You were highly engaged in your job and provided a high quality work product. This is why you were promoted to a leadership role in the first place.

Now you are being asked to shift to putting your trust in other folks to get the work done. If you’ve hired well, trained effectively, set clear expectations and provided necessary feedback on performance, this step should be liberating – not frustrating. Start by looking at your beliefs and mindsets about letting go and work from there.

Reflect to Connect

How could you provide autonomy to one of your team members who are ready to move to the next level in his or her growth?

Trust is the oil that keeps things moving forward even in challenging conditions. Luckily there’s no shortage of this valuable asset in today’s workplace. There’s a never-ending supply if you take the time to develop your trust “muscle”.

See you in Professional Paradise!

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