Great leaders understand that building trust is the cornerstone to employee growth, goal achievement and bottom-line results. Building trust is the supercharged fuel that accelerates solid business plans, excellent products and services, and employee productivity.
Conversely, mistrust creates a toxic culture in which morale, productivity and deliverables suffer. Building trust starts with consistent and fair leadership wrapped in the skin of integrity. Make sure all you do matches your expressed values, and you will grow and sustain the critical trust that propels company success.
Here’s how to build trust:
1. Align your behaviors to your company values. For instance, let’s say your company values “teamwork” and you’ve reiterated this fact through company communications, but then you fail to set a good example in your actions. Maybe you ignore the importance of getting your team involved in creating solutions to existing problems. Or perhaps you overlook the contributions of the team when success happens or fail to act when teamwork starts breaking down. Such behaviors defy the very notion of “teamwork”— and your people will notice! This quickly translates into them doubting your leadership credibility and distrusting your intentions. Over time, they’ll simply start rolling their eyes whenever you speak of “teamwork.” No one will take you seriously because you’re not leading by example or aligning your behaviors to your company values.
2. Challenge and delegate to employees. When you do this, it builds trust, and people want you to trust them. After all, you probably hired them because they had great talent and skills, so they are deserving of being trusted. But if you don’t give them responsibility and require your employees to push their own limits in a positive way, they’ll start feeling you don’t believe in them. When they lose confidence in their own abilities, they’ll also lose faith in you. Remember: Purely autocratic leaders are never fully trusted by those who work with and under them. However, effective, balanced leaders consistently create and sustain trust by routinely asking their people to step up and push themselves to grow. That’s best achieved through the delegation of what’s significant and the confidence that comes from your employees’ success with what you’ve delegated.
3. Deliver results. You may have many fabulous leadership assets, but if you’re not delivering results, no one is really going to trust you. For example, at your year-end meeting, if you can’t stand up in front of your staff, board, boss, etc., and show measurable results in terms of revenue growth, profitability or business goals, etc., then people will doubt your abilities. That doesn’t mean you can’t have shortcomings or point out mistakes and lessons learned, but the overall picture of your leadership needs to be one that looks like success and consistently delivers results.
What company value do you find the most difficult to align with your behavior?