November 7, 2013 in Events (live blogging), CIPD Annual Conference 2013

#CIPD13 – Developing trustworthy leaders for greater business performance

Dr. Graham Abbey (University of Bath) and Kirstin Furber (BBC Worldwide)

One-sentence summary: Trust is an essential, foundational component of team and organisational success and can be built or destroyed by leadership.


Graham Abbey introduced this, explaining that the focus is on how senior leaders can create an environment of trust and that the research is in the very early stages before continuing the session in a really interesting format as he and Kirstin Furber interviewed each other.


Graham talked about his love of people and how he sees trust as such as foundational component of good relationships.

Kirstin shared the BBC Worldwide values – Respect, Audiences, Trust, Creativity, Teamwork, Enterprise, Quality – to highlight how trust is taken very seriously by BBC Worldwide. Kirstin shared an example of trust from a re-organisation where confidential plans were shared with a wide group of people in advance of the announcement and of how it helped engagement and that trust was reciprocated as no information was leaked and confidentiality was respected. Kirstin also shared an example of how a team founded on trust works really well together, pulls together, and has the difficult discussions that need to be had. Kirstin also shared an example of a leadership development programme that includes live 360 feedback, a really powerful session that was only possible because of the level of trust.


Graham likened trust to a muscle that needs development and Kirstin talked about the power of trust as a foundation of two-way mentoring (something that I find really helpful in the guise of a Strategic Latte) and how they enable people to solve problems without having to resort to external help. Kirstin also highlighted clear business benefits from trust and talked about how a global organisation can still be agile and do so because it is founded on trust, not rigid rules, processes and governance structures. I really liked Graham’s point that building trust as a leader is a contact sport and citing research findings that trust in leaders is founded on ability, benevolence, integrity, and predictability.


Where do you start if you want to be trusted by other people? Start by trusting them.


Lots of interesting thoughts about how being intentional about building trust can make a significant positive impact on engagement and really help people, teams, and organisations.


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