Calling all CEO’s: Building Trust and Courage Inside Your Organization

Trust and courage intertwine, Gabriela Buich tells me. In her business coaching she builds on personal truth and human interaction, getting to the root causes of defensive behavior and making small changes that improve performance. People are what accelerate business, after all – and just as you’d optimize machinery or a workflow process, you can optimize how people think, behave and interact.

Gabriela is a colleague and a friend, a business coach. Most of all, she is an inspiration. I see the work that she’s doing and I find hope for the future of business.

Trust and Courage

“Trust is what causes the shift,” Gabriela says. She & I were talking about Leaders Who Coach, and Gabriela explained that when there’s open dialogue from the top, and people have transparency about their concerns, it creates a trusting culture where people can make direct requests and give direct feedback without fear.

Good open communication means people feel safe expressing needs and concerns. This engenders courage for people to not only speak their truths, but to take chances and push past limitations. Innovation requires courage – you can only challenge conventions if you’re willing to take risk and break the mold.

Gabriela also encourages clients to practice “first truth first,” confronting fear and worry head-on. “First truth first” means emotion is primary, so lead with that: “hey I’m anxious about this deadline” or “I’m worried about saying this but …” This simple technique acknowledges humanity and opens up free communication.

Workplace interactions are really no different from the rest of life’s social contact. The better you understand human nature, the better you can build great work relationships.

There are three layers of perception, flowing from the inside out, says Gabriela:

  • Self-concept: how I see myself
  • How I feel and believe that OTHERS see me
  • How I behave in the world

In her work, Gabriela coaches leaders and work teams in how to approach these three distinctions vis-à-vis workplace interactions. To function effectively, leaders benefit from learning to be aware of their own emotions, and to recognize them in others. In business, feelings can be perceived as weak. Gabriela challenges that, inviting people to open up, to give themselves permission to talk openly about how they feel. “I’m worried about this deadline” starts a conversation, and that leads to open dialogue and problem solving.

Accountability and Leading by Example

For business leaders who wish to build an open culture like this, based on trust and courage, Gabriela says it starts with how those leaders behave. She puts it this way: “If I show up differently, you’ll show up differently; if I deliver differently, you will too; if I’m transparent, so will you be. If I trust you – if I demonstrate that I trust what you have to deliver, you’ll trust me.”

For management, being accountable means more than simply owning your own integrity – it means being accountable for the results of your work teams and your company. Gabriela says this about supporting work teams: “If I as a leader don’t know what to deliver to you, then I don’t know you well enough to get the results I’m looking for.”

Business is more than just gears and numbers – it’s about people. As Gabriela puts it, “we’ve got to get two people’s legs in one gunny sack and win this race together.”

Kirsti Tcherkoyan

CEO, Options4Growth & OpaConnect