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Simplifying Leadership Through T.R.U.S.T…Understanding

(This is part 4 of a 6-part series about the T.R.U.S.T. Leadership Model)

Successful leaders understand aspects of their employees that can affect performance and they lead accordingly.

Consider the following scenario:

A typically high-performing employee begins to miss deadlines, delivers sloppy work and just doesn’t seem as engaged as she used to be. What could be causing this:

  1. She feels her work is unimportant
  2. There’s something going on in her personal life that is distracting her
  3. There is conflict between her and her teammates
  4. She’s upset she didn’t get the promotion she wanted
  5. I have no idea

There are many other possibilities for a decline in performance. Unfortunately, “I have no idea” is the only sure answer many supervisors have. This is unacceptable for today’s multi-generational workforce. A leader needs to understand the motivations of their teams and the individuals on them.

Creating a Motivational Environment

Susan Fowler has studied and written extensively on the need to focus on basic human needs to create a motivational environment rather than on trying to motivate people directly. She writes that allowing for autonomy, connecting an employee’s work to something greater than themselves (relatedness) and making sure there is competence to get the job done will lead to engaged, productive individuals and teams.

The only way to address those needs is by fully understanding where the employee is coming from and where they want to go. This happens through formal and informal communication including regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings that are not focused on a project, but focused on understanding what’s working or not working, job satisfaction, career aspirations etc.

Consider, in the hypothetical above, if there were regular discussions between the employee and the supervisor, it likely would not have come to the place that it is. It might have been discovered that the employee feels unchallenged and the supervisor could have helped to show how she could take control (autonomy) by looking for ways to make her job more interesting to her and more valuable to the company. Or, if she didn’t get the promotion she wanted, she likely would have been aware before it was announced. The supervisor could discuss areas for development and jointly create a plan to help her get the development she needs (competence). Finally, if she feels her work is unimportant, the supervisor can show her how she contributes to the success of the company and/or how her work contributes to improving the end user’s life.(relatedness).

TRUST is the foundation of leadership and success

Without TRUST, individuals and organizations cannot reach their full potential and, in the worst-case scenario, are destined for failure. The good news is that TRUST can be developed by focusing on the 5 key aspects of the TRUST Leadership Model. Understanding is a key part of building TRUST and the best way to do that is by connecting with your team in a way that allows you to be aware of what is impacting performance through regular, open and honest communication

Ken Sher is President of Sher Coaching and developer of the “TRUST Leadership Model”. He is dedicated to improving individual and team performance by focusing on Executive Coaching and Career Management. If you are interested in improving your level of TRUST for or with your team or if your organization’s leadership needs to do so, please reach out to Ken to schedule a complimentary coaching session, or call him at (215) 262-0528 or email him at

Ken Sher

Ken Sher is an Career Coach and Executive Coach who focuses on the whole person when helping them with professional or personal issues they are trying to manage. Ken's areas of expertise include job search, career management and leadership development. If you would like to reach out to Ken, please call him at (215) 262-0528 or visit his web site at