Leading with Trust Affects Your Team and Your Bottom Line

Leading with Trust Affects Your Team and Your Bottom Line 
A Little Trust goes a Long Way 

Mindy Barker | Barker Associates

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. 

Leadership: If it’s Lonely at the Top, it’s Time to Make a Change

Leadership: If it’s Lonely at the Top, it’s Time to Make a Change 

Mindy Barker | Barker Associates

“It’s lonely at the top!” We’ve heard that phrase circulated amidst leadership conversations for years. But what exactly does it mean? Is the perception different from the reality? And, more importantly, what does it say about our own leadership styles? 

Clearly, it’s not a literal statement. As leaders, we are surrounded by other people (often more so than we may like). Rather, it is a statement born out of one’s personality, emotions, and ability to shift perspective. Loneliness in these terms is not referring to physical isolation, but from an inability to make connections at work due to the position itself. Maybe you’re not invited to lunch anymore. Maybe you’re not on the inside track of the office jokes that everyone else seems to get. But that’s okay. Ultimately, you’re not there to make friends.

Some leadership aspects lend themselves to justifying the phrase. Whether you’re the CEO, the CFO, or in another management position, leaders are the ones who bear much of the responsibilities in a constant attempt to balance the ever-increasing demands from both sides – higher management and staff. There are deadlines, operational issues, risk management issues, financials to be filed, and problems to be solved. This is particularly true for women leaders, who often struggle to find support from like-minded women who have the same abilities and the same challenges. It is also particularly true for financial leaders.

Financial leaders often struggle with discovering the right combination of leadership responsibilities and deadline based tactical responsibilities. They find it difficult to stay engaged with the professionals they lead, because, well, some deadline is usually fast-approaching. Yet, they understand that it is no longer possible to focus solely on the tactical aspects of their jobs. If they want to move up to the CFO level, they cannot do it alone. Rather, they must engage with those whom they lead.

Are We Doing Something Wrong?

Despite the reasons, the idea of being lonely as a leader still doesn’t sit right. In fact, John Maxwell has noted, “If you are lonely at the top, then you are doing something wrong.”

Consider this: if you are alone, it could be concluded that no one is following you. And if no one is following you, how can you lead effectively? Our job, as leaders, is to build relationships, build trust, and make those we lead better at what they do, helping them ascend, as we have. Once we fully accept those responsibilities, we understand that in order to achieve our goals, we must connect to those we lead in more impactful ways, including coaching and collaboration (with little time to be lonely). 

The most obvious impacts of loneliness as a leader are on those we are leading, who may feel abandoned. However, it may also affect our own ability to do our jobs effectively. For example, good decisions never arise out of negative emotions, including loneliness. As such, decision-making, a crucial component of leadership, could also be affected when we shut ourselves off. 

Lonely at the Top No More

While some of the physical circumstance may be unavoidable – you do have a separate office, you’re not privy to some of the same conversations, you may struggle to find support, strategies to stay engaged with your team abound. In their implementation, not only will you be less isolated, you’ll ultimately be leading in more effective ways. 

Top Five Tips to Staying Engaged (and to not being lonely):

1. Be Visible. Your team needs to know you are there and accessible. Have an open-door policy and encourage others to use it. 

2. Collaborate. No leader operates alone. You don’t have all the answers. None of us do. Increasing collaboration among the team not only increases creativity, it also increases the value placed on relationships and productivity. 

3. Coach. Much of your responsibility as a leader rests with the development of others. Embrace that responsibility. Remember that in order for you to move up, others must do so as well. 

4. Actively listen. Your team is valuable and so are their voices, whether they are in consensus or have diverse points of view, show them that you care about what they have to say.  

5. Accept Change. Understand and accept that relationships will shift based on your leadership position, but those relationships still need cultivation. 

Leaders shouldn’t sit in detached isolation at the top of the organizational chart. Rather, we should immerse ourselves into the organization’s culture and people. With bonding comes energy and with energy comes relationships. And only through those relationships can we bring out the best in others. Loneliness dissipates because we are highly engaged with those around us, not sitting alone behind the closed doors of a corner office. 

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.