Leading with Trust Affects Your Team and Your Bottom Line
A Little Trust goes a Long Way
We talked last week about the concept of being lonely at the top and more importantly, how not to be lonely at the top. And we found that one of the best ways is to increase collaboration with your team. However, to do so effectively, we need to earn their trust first.
Do you remember a time when you didn’t fully trust your leader? Maybe you could sense they weren’t authentic or credible, or you felt like you had to have your guard up for another reason. Your levels of performance and productivity were probably lower than usual. You also likely felt disconnected not only from your leader, but also from your team and even your own work. It may have led to internal conflict, poor communication, and decreased productivity. Overall, it wasn’t a thriving relationship. All because you didn’t trust them.
The Importance of Trust
Trust is a crucial component of any meaningful relationship, including those with our subordinates and colleagues. To be an effective, successful leader, you must have your team’s support, which can only happen after you have earned their trust. Earning trust is not necessarily an easy thing to do and not something that happens automatically. It takes work, authenticity, and consistency.
When you earn your team’s trust though, almost magically, amazing things begin to happen. It increases their commitment not only to you, but to the organization and its goals. They become more comfortable with change and more willing to embrace a new vision. Communication also improves with trust, increasing collaboration, creativity, and productivity. Trust even fosters smoother conflict resolution. And it’s a two-way street. When the synergy of trust flows both ways, leaders will empower their employees to do their own work and make their own decisions more, and employees will have the confidence and trust to do so.
According to a Harvard Business Review article, “Without a foundation of trust, people in the organization may comply outwardly with a leader’s wishes, but they’re much less likely to conform privately — to adopt the values, culture, and mission of the organization in a sincere, lasting way. Workplaces lacking in trust often have a culture of ‘every employee for himself,’ in which people feel that they must be vigilant about protecting their interests.”
So, the question becomes … how do we build trust as a leader?
One of the easiest and most effective ways to build trust and strong relationships is to give our full attention to others when they are speaking. Active listening tips include –
- Silencing the distractions (physical, digital, and mental).
- Eliminating interruptions.
- Repeating what they said and asking if you heard it correctly.
- If not, asking them to repeat it.
- Using verbal and non-verbal cues that your attention is on them only.
- Listening with empathy and trying to meet them where they are.
Building trust also requires authenticity and transparency in your leadership methods. While transparency does not mean that you have to divulge everything to everyone, it does mean that what you do divulge is true and accurate. In this way, you are also modeling the behavior you expect from them. Another tip is to resist the urge to micromanage. Nothing screams, “I don’t trust you or your work” like micromanaging. Set parameters and expectations and hold your team members accountable. Overall, it creates a better working environment and increases the levels of success.
Building trust at work is not all about a mere feel-good initiative. Trust actually has also been found to enhance the bottom line. Trust Across America (an organization that tracks the performance of America’s most trustworthy public companies) found that the most trustworthy companies outperformed the S&P 500. Additionally, an Interaction Associates study showed that trustworthy companies are “2½ times more likely to be high performing revenue organizations than low-trust companies.”
Ultimately, it goes back to the old adage, “treat others the way you wish to be treated.” To build and maintain trust, treat your team members with integrity and respect, fostering open communications and a productive, efficient team. Trust is the glue that binds a leader to his or her team. And nothing provides the capacity for success and credibility more … trust me.
Barker Associates has extensive experience with collaborative management styles, assisting organizations as they achieve increased productivity and efficiency. Use this link to my calendar to choose the best time for your free 30-minute consultation.