As you transform your organization to be more entrepreneurial, you will find that trust and risk are woven throughout the process.

Trust between the leader and team lays the foundation for risk taking. Trust between the leader and the rest of the organization provides the framework for collaboration. Trust between the leader and senior management helps accelerate the transformation. Ultimately it is the trust in the leader that is the key to success.

As an entrepreneurial leader, you will have to navigate through uncharted waters and make unpopular decisions to keep things moving. There will be tradeoffs on the best way to use resources and allocate limited funds. You will have to take hard stands on issues that may be unpopular with the team and the organization.

Many organizational transformations are met with a certain level of skepticism in the beginning. People prefer to wait until they see progress before they are willing to lend their support. They are often more comfortable putting their trust in doing things the old way.

As the leader, it will be incumbent upon you to build trust. You may find that you have to build that trust one person at a time. Having the ability to develop effective working relationships with those around you is a key component of building trust. It is all about relationship building and collaboration. As others begin to understand and see the value in what you are doing, then their trust in you will grow.

Building trust with senior management will be crucial in moving things forward and getting the support you need when unpopular decisions must be made. Trust is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. Senior management will not always be comfortable with your decisions but they will demonstrate their trust by delegating risk when it is required. The question is whether they will be willing to accept the results of those decisions when they don’t go according to plan. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to test your trust in one another.

As your trust grows, so does your confidence in taking bigger, bolder risks. So it is imperative that you have the self-confidence and conviction upfront to see things through until the end. You will need to be proactive, organized, disciplined, and decisive. It will be important that you are politically savvy and operate from an internal locus of control. You will need influence and good communication skills. These are the characteristics that will help you build the trust you need. Building trust will help you convince some of your skeptics, but not all of them.

As the leader you will never get the full trust of those around you. The team will present a united front to the rest of the organization, but may question you behind closed doors. There will be times when you ask the team to make commitments that are above and beyond the normal call of duty. You will need to motivate and encourage them to stretch outside their comfort zone.

In turn, you will want the team to develop trust in them self. Over time you will be able to determine their level of trust through their work when they stop delegating the risky decisions to you. More importantly, you will know that they have developed a level of trust in themselves to take on greater risk. As you build a stronger relationship with your team, you will come to realize that trust and risk are intertwined.

Even though your peers may lend their support, they are not always totally supportive. It is not until they are willing to put some skin in the game that you can measure their trust. There are competitive forces at work here that transcend trust. Everyone is competing for limited funding and resources. So it is not surprising that perhaps the greatest resistance you will encounter will be from your peers. You should not expect them to trust you.

It may be easier to understand the level of trust you’ve built with senior management. You will see it more clearly when there is a high-risk decision to be made or a major departure from normal operating procedures. Although they may have promised their support and encouragement in the beginning, it is not until you reach a pivotal point in the project that you understand their risk profile. Only then will you understand the level of trust they place in you.

Trust in leadership is becoming increasingly important as organizations deal with the rapid pace of change. Finding a leader people trust is only a small part of the challenge. Finding a leader that is willing to proactively take risks may be more difficult. Finding an organization that is willing to put their trust in allowing you to do whatever it takes without negative consequences for your actions is rare.

An entrepreneurial leader must demonstrate through their actions that trust and risk are part of the process, part of the learning, and part of the success that is required to move an idea, a project or an organization forward. The real risk is not taking risks. Trust on the other hand must be earned.

Developing entrepreneurial leaders who embody trust and risk will be one of your organization’s greatest achievements as you build its capability to achieve business growth. Leaders will not only be judged on how well they executed, but how effectively they led.

The fact that trust and risk are intertwined creates an opportunity for you, your team and the organization to become more entrepreneurial.


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