Safety + Trust = Leadership


Recently,  Dr. Sunnie Giles shared her most recent leadership research in the Harvard Business Review. In “The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World”, Giles reveals the top 10 leadership competencies (grouped in 5 themes) she garnered after interviewing 195 leaders from 15 countries across the globe. Giles noted that 67% of the respondents indicated that having high ethical/moral standards and communicating clear expectations are a top priority for leaders. Giles notes:

Taken together, these attributes are all about creating a safe and trusting environment. A leader with high ethical standards conveys a commitment to fairness, instilling confidence that both they and their employees will honor the rules of the game. Similarly, when leaders clearly communicate their expectations, they avoid blindsiding people and ensure that everyone is on the same page. In a safe environment employees can relax, invoking the brain’s higher capacity for social engagement, innovation, creativity, and ambition.

Giles’ research aligns squarely with my own research (and writings) over the past 5+ years: Leaders MUST create a sense of trust, security, and safety with their followers. I’ve written previously how insecure leaders negatively impact others (Insecure Leaders & Power “Hoarding”), how servant leaders telegraph empathy and empower those who follow them (Leadership 101: Are You A Servant Leader?), and how leaders MUST consider the hopes and aspirations of those they lead (“What’s In It For ME?”).

Ultimately, Giles’ research is a reminder about what I consider to be the fundamental tenet of effective leadership: leadership IS NOT about the “leader”…it’s about how the leader creates an environment where others succeed.


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