How building trust remotely can impact Nigerian organisations — Oxford professor

Roger Delves, an Oxford-trained professor, has counselled Nigerian leaders on building trust among their remote teams to survive in the present global turmoil.

Delves, who is among the faculty for the March programme of TEXEM UK, a United Kingdom-based leadership development organisation, said building trust remotely takes longer than building trust in a live environment.

He spoke on TEXEM’s website,, while answering questions on the programme coming up from March 9 to March 23 online and between March 25 and March 27 in the UK.

The TEXEM hybrid programme for Nigerian leaders is titled Effective Leadership in a Distributed World: Pioneering Enduring Legacies.

Delves added that building trust is more difficult and takes longer to develop the concept of psychological safety.

“Trust can only be built successfully with psychological safety present.

“So, if your organisation consists of remote teams, or a mix of live and remote teams, or a mix of hybrid, remote, and live teams, Nigerian leaders must make stringent efforts with each individual in each team, regardless of the nature of the team.

“For example, having conversations with individuals within which the individual and the leader share personal information helps create this sense of safety and trust.


“This information will include things like their sense of purpose around their work, their sense of personal values, and their sense of personal ambition for the team, the organization, and themselves,” he said.

Delves said they will also share information about what they hope for the country in a wider geo-political or geo-economic way.

“This sharing helps each party, leader, and team member get a sense of the authentic self within the other individual.

“It is this authentic self that the individual comes to trust and feel safe with. Both/all parties involved must be prepared to commit time and emotional energy to the exercise.

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“This time commitment is not insignificant, and of course, this exercise is significantly less straightforward with virtual team members than it is with team members who are encountered in a live environment,” he said.

Delves said team leaders need to set aside time to meet virtually with team members on several occasions to build trust and safety and then maintain these levels through regular trust after that.

“There is no easy alternative to this commitment of time because if the time is not committed, the necessary levels of safety will not be created, and therefore, the required levels of trust will not be built.

“This will lead to a barrier to genuine high performance being created within a team.

“Executives should attend the forthcoming TEXEM hybrid programme to glean more insights into how to build better alignment and consensus.

“To improve their relationships with diverse stakeholders, enhance their individual and organisational resilience, enshrine better adaptability and innovation, and win,” he said.


Delves also spoke on how emotional quotient (EQ) plays a role in engaging diverse stakeholders virtually and how executives can harness this understanding to drive success.

“Emotional Quotient (EQ), or emotional intelligence, describes how we deal with our own emotions and manage our emotional relationships with others.

“This will help us engage diverse stakeholders virtually because, for example, we can control our impatience in the face of a stakeholder’s slowness to embrace our opinion or our anger in the face of a stakeholder’s opposition to our plans.

“By diligently managing our own emotions, we can also become better influencers and persuaders,” he said.

Delves said when organisations turn to the two outward-looking competencies of EQ, they find there is a competence area called social awareness and another called relationship management.

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“These two external-facing or outward-looking competencies of EQ are fundamentally important in engaging different stakeholders virtually.

“Social awareness makes us more aware of the needs and backgrounds of stakeholders and any diversity among stakeholders and how that might affect how they act or the opinions they may hold.

“For example, Nigerian nationals who lack the social awareness skills that EQ brings may mismanage a stakeholder map that includes nationals from significantly different parts of the globe,” he said.

Delves said that at the same time, socially aware Nigerians will understand and know how better to respect diversity and harness the power of diversity to serve the needs of the project or the organisation with which the stakeholder is in contact.

“Equally, socially aware Nigerians are better equipped to create an environment where every stakeholder from whatever background (for example, from whatever industry, regardless of gender, age, or religious belief) can feel valued, safe, and wanted.

“This ability can create significantly better stakeholder environments, significantly benefiting the organisation,” he said.

Delves stated that the Nigerian business environment is one of constant challenge and change, much of it unexpected.

“There are many essential elements and aspects to leading well in a challenging and changing environment, and all of them will help, but none of them will remove the challenge and change.

“The fundamental principles that I teach that will help alleviate the challenging, changing environment around building trust are to master the external, forward-facing competencies of EQ.

“And learn to influence and persuade individuals rather than tell individuals how to behave,” he said.

Delves added that command-and-control behavioural approaches will rarely work in the kinds of environments leaders face in Nigeria.

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“Only the commitment of time, energy, and emotional effort will suffice here. There is no substitute for spending time first understanding the models and then mastering them so that they can be used smoothly and seamlessly in the workplace.

“Then time and emotional energy must be committed, particularly to the pro-active building of internal relationships so that there is a climate of trust and psychological safety.

“This building of such a climate must, of course, acknowledge the unique challenges of the Nigerian business environment, both the socio-economic and the socio-political challenges,” he said.

Delves said Nigerians of any age or gender from different cultural backgrounds must be able to work well and collaboratively together.

He said this creates the sort of team (whether a live, hybrid, or virtual team) that is best equipped to deal with the complex, unexpected, and volatile nature of the Nigerian business landscape.

“I encourage executives to participate in this forthcoming TEXEM programme, as they will enhance their decision-making credentials, learn how to better gain competitive advantage, and sustain long-term success,” Delves said.

“Given that this programme will leverage TEXEM’s tested and proven methodology that has helped thousands of leaders win by making learning engaging, stimulating, impactful, and beneficial, you can trust that this programme will be very actionable for all participants.

“Furthermore, the TEXEM methodology inspires among participants the determination required to build a better self and then to try to build a better Nigeria,” Delves said.

Other expected faculty members include Sir James Duddridge, MP, Amb. Charles Crawford, and Prof. Paul Griffith (the world’s first Professor of Management to lead a team to launch a rocket into space). (NAN)

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