Three Ways to Create a Culture of Trust with Jose Ruiz — Virtual Gathering Recap

On August 17, 2022, Jose Ruiz, President of IMD International Search Group and CEO and Managing Partner of Alder Koten, joined us to share his insights into what it takes to build and cultivate successful employee-employer relationships.

Offering three angles to look through when it comes to this important aspect of Conscious Culture, Jose focused his presentation on trust in leadership by employees, trust in employees by leadership, and trust in ourselves. Read on for our takeaways.

Trust in leadership

Referencing Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Jose outlined the ways in which employees rely on leaders to support their physiological and safety needs—at the most basic level, when applied to the workplace, employees need things like a comfortable working environment and financial security, as examples, to feel secure. The need for belonging and esteem come after and fulfilling these desires and ensuring individuals’ basic needs are met creates a level of security that allows employees to ascend to a place where they can focus on self-actualization, the top of Maslow’s hierarchy.

At that peak, according to Jose, is where employees can then get “in flow.” Alluding to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s definition of being in flow, Jose describes the concept as the “state of consciousness where you feel your best and you perform your best.” It’s a place where employees are able to be up to five times more productive, according to a study by McKinsey & Company, because they can embrace autonomy, creativity, and innovation.

The need for physical and psychological safety, community, and self-esteem and actualization, are needs that we carry throughout all aspects of lives, and the workplace is no different. Jose focuses on this hierarchy to ensure his employees have the essential foundations required to really excel at work—and encourages other Conscious Leaders to do the same.

Trust in employees

From the perspective of an organization’s employees, there’s a similar need for trust in order to create thriving work environments and cultivate capable teams.

Once employees are able to achieve that state of being in flow, they are oftentimes looking for their employer to provide them the space to employ their skills and expertise, think creatively to solve problems, and ultimately make decisions.

“To be able to provide whoever it is that you’re delegating something to that space of autonomy, there are three things that need to happen in an optimal way with trust,” Jose explained, outlining the idea that employers must make clear an employee’s responsibilities, trust that they can and will get it done, and finally, continue to ensure support is available along the way.

This ultimately leads to more meaningful work. And the more meaningful an employer can make the work, the more satisfied employees will ultimately feel. Jose describes meaningful work like this: “… number one, we are clear about what is expected of us, number two, we feel that what we’re doing is challenging, important, and valuable, and, number three, that we get to decide how to get the work done.”

Trust in ourselves

Finally, Jose encouraged leaders and teams alike to embrace the uncertainty that often comes with new challenges by trusting in ourselves to realize our true power and potential. Referring back to the concept of being in flow, Jose noted that being in flow leads to a decreased sense of self-doubt which in the end liberates us to take new approaches and try new things without the debilitating worry of failure.

While being in flow, studies have shown that “that the area of the brain that is known for self-monitoring actually deactivated. Self-monitoring is really that voice of doubt, the one that is the internal person that defeats us, the very, very critical inner critic that we carry. Since flow is a fluid state, where problem-solving is nearly automatic, … being in flow, and being able to be so focused and even being able to trust us, ourselves, allows us to be able to turn off the self-monitoring.” 

Approaching trust in the workplace from these three angles truly allows leaders to create an environment where those at every level feel they can rely on each other and themselves to achieve collective success. For Jose, it all starts at the top: “The holy grail of leadership is understanding the right balance of mutual trust to provide spaces of autonomy where people can flow.”

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