Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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Earned and Based on Merit!

We cultivate trust. We don’t impose it. 

Last week, we explored the realm of trust! And we differentiated between two related but distinct subjects: wise trust and blind trust. Also, we took a moment to appreciate the joy that trusting others brings. You may read more here: https://akesatia.com/the-decision-to-trust/. Today, let us explore a critical question: What enables trust?

Wise Trust is gained based on merit.
On my sabbatical, an insidious situation that involved my physical safety arose. After being in a specific town for a few days, I learned kidnappers were present, and they were very active. Therefore, I needed to be very careful!! Because I tend to revel in the wonder of my imagination, this news sounded like an action movie in the making! But the sheer mysteriousness of it all was a little much for me. And I was thrown off-kilter!

Many reasons to believe and no good reason to doubt!

Desperate to regain my composure, I began to run potential scenarios in my mind!
My first thought: What exactly does: “Be careful!” mean in this instance? Perhaps, I should stay indoors and out of sight! But then I thought: How would staying indoors deter kidnappers? All they would have to do is break in!
Next, I thought, I might be better off spending most of my time outdoors in crowded areas. But a conflicting thought emerged: Being in crowded areas could lead me directly into the hands of a kidnapper. And if they got a hold of me in a crowd, I would have a tough time escaping since they know the area better than I do.

As I played out these scenarios and others, I could feel my blood pressure rising. And I resolved to do all I could, i.e., To trust those I was with and lean on them for help. After all, they knew the
 area very well. Also, they would know what to do in a risky situation. Of course, they could turn me in for cash. But they would never do that… I thought! They have demonstrated their love and care for me. Therefore, I have many reasons to believe them. And no good reason to doubt them. – This is the pith of wise trust!
If you are wondering how the story ends, I am happy to report that the kidnappers never got a hold of me. And I never saw any of them – as far as I know! But the profound fear and disquietude I felt were imprinted on my mind.

Several days later, relieved but sad to leave, I left that small town for a big city. Soon after, I boarded a plane home. On the flight, I trembled as I recalled how close I was to a life-threatening and altering situation. But I also marveled at how delightful my trip was. As my heart swelled with gratitude for those I met, I reflected on the value the decision to trust wisely played in ensuring my safety.
Then I started people-watching… a fun pastime! And I could not help but notice how many people held their cell phones with a death grip as they fired off seemingly urgent messages! I, however, lounged in my seat. My recent experience gave me a new perspective on what is truly urgent. And on the importance of trust.

The teeter-totter of trust!

Developing the ability to build trust is invaluable personally and professionally.
As most of us recall, during the 2020 pandemic, many workers worked from home. And many still do despite some organizations’ valiant efforts to get them back into the office building! This resistance from workers has rubbed many organizational leaders the wrong way. And led them to make statements such as: Are employees working from their reclining leather sofas, buying workout equipment online, or vacationing on the beach under the guise of working from home? 
This type of speech suggests that a leader does not trust their workers. While this is explicable in some ways, it begs the question: If a leader does not extend trust to employees, why would one expect employees to trust the leader? 

When I think of trust, a seesaw or a teeter-totter comes to mind. Did you play on a seesaw as a kid? I remember doing so! 😊 Ironically, playing on a seesaw offers many lessons in trust and partnership. The objective is to attain balance. And this requires the kids seated on the board to connect and partner. Building trust in relationships requires the same. Building trust requires connection and partnership. And both parties need to give and receive.

Cultivating Trust in the Workplace

Building trusting relationships in the workplace is vital. And to learn how to do so, one need only observe a gardener tending to a rose bush. A gardener grows a rose bush by planting rose seeds in healthy soil and ensuring the plants have appropriate exposure to sunlight, fertilizer, water, and regular pruning. Many committed gardeners also talk to their plants! And they refer to these acts as tender loving care or TLC. Essentially, gardeners build trusting relationships with their plants. The plants need not worry about whether they will receive food or exposure to sunlight. Because the gardener will do their utmost to ensure the plants receive what they need to grow and thrive.
This applies to healthy human relationships as well. Trust is a vital ingredient in healthy human relationships. And to build trust, one has to cultivate trust. 

But today, some leaders and organizations expect and demand blind trust from employees. This could show up as a manager telling a worker who inquires about a pay raise or a promotion: We are very thoughtful about our pay decisions. And we invest heavily in professional development. When you are ready for the next level, we will give you the opportunity. Be patient and give it time.
It is unrealistic to expect a manager to explain the rationale behind every decision to employees. In the same vein, to expect workers to trust leaders and organizations blindly by accepting all they say without knowing why, is a reason for pause. By helping others to understand the rationale for decisions that impact them, we cultivate trust. Likewise, distrust often emerges when the reasons why one made a pertinent decision that affects another are unknown. 

Caring Builds Trust

Reasons to distrust abound, but trusting relationships are invaluable. And like balancing on a seesaw, building trust requires effort from both sides. A critical factor that enables one to build trust is caring. Specifically, setting aside ego and choosing to see beyond one’s needs and oneself.
I experienced this firsthand recently because someone I care about lives with Attention Deficit Hyperdisorder (ADHD). And to develop a deeper understanding and compassion, I decided to become a student of ADHD. I enjoy learning about the phenomenon because it has drawn me into their world, enabled me better understand them, and amplified my trust in them. Indeed, the decision and courageous step to trust can benefit both the giver and the receiver.

What steps will you take to build trust?

For you and to you,



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