Leadership insight: why innovation needs trust

Posted by Cranfield School of Management on 16-Oct-2015 12:29:00

The business landscape is changing rapidly, so organisations need to be able to react fast to survive. The key to doing this is flattening hierarchical structures and ensuring trust and communication exists within managerial relationships, to encourage the sharing of insights which can lead to competitive organisational change.

The only problem is, trust is often thought to develop naturally in managerial relationships - meaning people commonly overlook the attention which needs to be paid to its development. 

At our management school, we think one of the tricks to inspiring trust is for managers to be highly communicative about the motives behind their actions and decisions. That's because being transparent prevents managers from becoming subject to inaccurate judgements regarding their motives, which could undermine trust and damage their reputation.

Now, more than ever, managers need to be closely involved with what’s occuring at an emotional level within their team. This will help them gain the trust of employees, which in turn will ensure that potentially disruptive organisational changes are accepted more readily, ideas are shared more freely and innovation can flourish.  

In this article, Forbes recommends scheduling meetings with individual staff members and having what they call the 'Simple Leadership Conversation'. The guidelines of this conversation are as follows:

  • How are you doing?
  • What’s in your way, and how can I help remove that obstacle?
  • What else can I do for you, or what else do you want me to know?

Keeping up to date with what's going on with individuals in the organisation will help solve and ultimately prevent blockages that slow production and erode employee satisfaction.

Creating this space for employees to share problems and ideas will also open the way for innovation to thrive. At first, these meetings might not flow easily. But as they progress, more trust will be formed and they will become increasingly beneficial.

Scheduling meetings like these is particularly important when an organisation is going through a period of change. As well as giving staff the opportunity to provide unique insights on core business issues, it will make employees feel listened to, leading to greater buy-in and levels of operational delivery.

How we can help

Within Cranfield School of Management we believe that leadership is a skill that needs to be honed, developed and nurtured. The Centre for General Management Development (CGMD) offers general management programmes that help managers at key career stages develop into leaders who influence the strategic course of their organisations. The management development courses, which cover the subject of knowledge sharing, are:

Click here for more information or download a programme brochure. 

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