Choosing trust over fear

Over your career, who is a leader that had an impact on you?

What lessons did you learn from them? How do you carry those lessons with you?

In considering these questions, you might think of leaders who had a positive impact. For example, individuals with admirable core values who have inspired you, those fiercely dedicated to the credit union mission to put people first, and similar ideas.

You might have also thought of leaders who’ve had a less-than-positive impact on you. For whatever reason, you found yourself in misalignment, constantly struggling to understand what drives their behaviors, actions or decisions.

This isn’t an exercise in judgment. Leadership is multifaceted. Great leaders are capable of “bad” moments and the opposite is also true. There is no perfect.

However, all of our experiences and interactions in and around leadership provide us with an opportunity to reflect on and improve our own journey.

Am I leading from a place of fear or trust?

When I think of leaders who have positively impacted me, it always took place within environments steeped in openness, transparency and mutual respect. Examples of how this might look in a workplace include:

  • Ideas, concerns, and feedback are shared openly and without fear of retribution.
  • Strategic dialogue was shared outside of the leadership team and context for decision-making was provided alongside strong internal communications.
  • A shared responsibility to collaborate and explore the interconnectivity between workstreams and projects across the organization.

An environment like this is created by a leader who is centrally motivated by trust. Trust in themselves, trust in others, and trust in the greater purpose we carry as credit unions.

I also think of instances where I’ve witnessed leaders operating from a place of fear. It can happen more often in instances where we feel pressure and need to work quickly. I have done this myself many times.

Leading from a place of fear can drive short-term success, which is why we’re susceptible to it. And when a leader operates from a place of fear, we can follow suit to accommodate. Over time, these experiences can warp our idea of the actions we must take to be successful.

Starting with self-awareness

The good news is that we all have the power to pause—in this moment and every moment—to consider whether trust or fear is driving our thoughts, behaviors and actions.

Self-awareness is a critical leadership competency. The ability to dig deep and understand our own motivations requires patience and courage. By doing so, we improve our ability to lead with trust and curate environments and interactions where others can do the same.

We all have the choice to emulate both positive and negative behaviors that we’ve seen and experienced in the workplace. Trust takes time and we have the ability to start now on a path to building it within our teams and organizations.

Lastly, remember that leader you thought of who made a positive impact on you? Reach out and tell them so. Let’s make moments to celebrate those who inspire the best in us.


Contact CUES

Contact CUES

Chad Helminak

Chad Helminak

Chad Helminak is VP/Talent Development Programming for CUES. He has two decades of leadership experience supporting purpose-driven organizations and leaders in the credit union industry, including work with the ... Web: Details