Working with many different types of leaders and organizations, it is fascinating to see both the levels of trust and distrust that exist.
I sense it right away when team members have a high degree of trust for one another. There is a real feeling of camaraderie and respect. I also pick up on severe disconnections and distrust. In these situations there tends to be a great deal of finger pointing and blame.
Why do we trust some people and not others? What elements help us cultivate trust? How do leaders make sure they model trustworthiness and empower their team members to do the same?
Here are seven trustworthy leadership tactics that have worked for many organizations and teams:
1. BE FOCUSED AND PRESENT
Watching the interaction between one leader with their team member recently, I noticed the leader wasn’t fully in the conversation. She looked distracted, peering at an email and not looking at the team member for any period of time. Although the interaction continued for about fifteen minutes, there was no connection or engagement. The team member looked frustrated and not listened to.
- Lean into a conversation with your eyes and mind.
- Make someone feel they matter by not doing anything else while speaking to them.
- Engage people through relevant questions for clarification.
- Others will trust us if they see we listen and strategize with them.
2. LEND YOUR EXPERIENCES AND LESSONS
Another great way to develop trust with others is to share what worked well for us and what didn’t in helping them tackle a challenge. By being honest about the mistakes we made and how we turned those missteps around can be very powerful. Showing our vulnerable side to someone builds a deeper connection.
3. ALWAYS COME THROUGH AND BE CONSISTENT
There’s nothing worse than making a commitment and not following through. This happens on many of our teams and in many of our collaborations. One team member I worked with had a manager promise to teach him a new program, only to be left to learn it himself. His trust in the manager imploded immediately. If we say we are going to do something, then do it!
4. SHOW COMPASSION
At different points we all run into hurdles that may require some added support and kindness from others. When we show compassion we build trust. Strong leaders are not afraid of showing compassion by:
- Asking a team member why they seem “off” that day.
- Trying to see another person’s challenges through their eyes.
- Offering a helpful solution if you have one or just saying, “I’m sorry you are going through this tough time.”
- Just listening to someone’s needs so they can figure out the best solution.
5. FLEX TO OTHER’S SUGGESTIONS
A powerful way to cultivate more meaningful relationships with others that leads to more trust, is being open to their ideas and suggestions. When team members or people we collaborate with share their input, they are looking for validation and acceptance. So give it! Include everyone’s ideas in the solution.
6. HELP PEOPLE SEE THEIR GIFTS
Has anyone ever told you that you have strengths or talents in certain areas? It is such a wonderful thing to share with someone. It can be equally as impactful to help a team member identify their gifts by focusing on the positive feedback they receive as well as areas they excel. We can develop trust when people feel we see their value and expertise.
7. NEVER MISS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEND PRAISE AND SHOUT-OUTS
We cultivate trust with others when we share our appreciation and gratitude.
- Share a team member’s success with an email shout-out.
- Bring in a bag of candy to someone who has worked hard on a project with you.
- Write a recommendation for a job well done and put it in a newsletter or on Linkedin.
- Make sure to say “Thank you” and “I appreciate all your outstanding work” each day.
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