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Three ways to build trust as a new CEO

22 April 2021 at 12:05 pm
Maggie Coggan
Gaining the trust of your new employees can be hard. We share some tips to make it a little easier. 

Maggie Coggan | 22 April 2021 at 12:05 pm


Three ways to build trust as a new CEO
22 April 2021 at 12:05 pm

Gaining the trust of your new employees can be hard. We share some tips to make it a little easier. 

For most people, starting a new job is nerve wrecking, but taking over leadership of an entire organisation is a whole other ball game. 

Not only do you need to work through the ins and outs of the organisation in those first few weeks, you need to gain the trust of your staff. 

This is critical, because as any good leader knows, you can’t achieve anything without a strong team behind you.

So how exactly do you go about that? We asked Peter Walton, who came on board as CARE Australia’s CEO in early 2020, for some advice. 

Unite behind a shared vision 

For purpose driven organisations, a uniting factor between all staff is the mission of the organisation. Walton said that when starting out as CARE’s new CEO, it was important for him to demonstrate and amplify that vision to unite everyone working towards a common goal. 

“If you’ve that shared vision and that shared sense of success, then trust will build,” Walton said.  

“It’s also important there aren’t competing objectives and agendas. There’s always going to need to be tradeoffs, but there should be a general sense that we’re on the same team.” 

Communicate honestly and frequently 

As the new leader of an organisation, there will be decisions and changes you make that not everyone will like, but Walton said if you communicate honestly and frequently about why and how those changes are being made, then you are more likely to get staff on side.   

“I was aware that not everyone was going to agree with the decisions that were being made, but really focusing on it being a fair and well communicated process around why and how decisions were made really made a big difference,” he said.  

Make it personal 

While it’s important that your staff respect you, it’s also important they know you are human. This doesn’t mean sharing every detail of your personal life on day one, but it does mean taking an interest in your staff’s lives, and being vulnerable and open to criticism (like the rest of us are). 

“Showing interest and being genuinely interested in people’s lives, both professionally and personally, was important for me. And on the flip side, I feel comfortable sharing a lot about my own personal circumstances in order to build trust,” Walton said. 

“I also think it’s good to admit when I get things wrong and show vulnerability because I think that that’s a strength, not a weakness. 

“For me, all of these things really help to be authentic and show that you’re committed.”

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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