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CEO pinpoints 4 keys to building trust

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Soon after Marillyn Hewson became Lockheed Martin’s CEO in early 2013, she packed her bags. Her goal was to meet face-to-face with investors, customers and employees.

After months on the road, she met with more than 60,000 staf­­fers—nearly half of the aerospace and defense firm’s 116,000 employees. In these meetings, she sought to build trust with the workforce and enlist their help to achieve success.

Hewson, 61, pinpoints four keys to building trust with employees:

1. Reinforce your values. Repeating certain messages doesn’t bother Hewson. She often starts town-hall presentations by stressing the importance of the company’s core values to do what’s right, re­­spect others and perform with excellence.

2. Convey a simple, compelling vision. Hewson wants employees to connect their daily job to the organi­zation’s success. She likes to cite examples of individual contributors who advance the company toward a better future. “I’ve learned that when you show someone that you trust them, they work hard to show that your trust is well placed,” she says.

3. Speak with honesty even when it hurts. In tough times, some CEOs sugarcoat the truth. But Hewson prefers to level with people in an open, honest manner.

By confronting challenges head-on, she clears the air. As a result, employees spend less time fretting and more time pooling their efforts to overcome obstacles.

4. Express gratitude. Hewson likes to thank employees. She rarely leads a meeting without recognizing top performers by name and sharing why she’s grateful to them.

— Adapted from “The First Things a New Leader Should Do To Build Trust,” Marillyn Hewson, www.linkedin.com.

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