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10 Strategies for Building Trust

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Lack of trust undermines business success. If a foundation of trust is missing in our leadership teams, we can't effectively communicate or solve problems. Instead, leaders should be investing in strategies for building trust like they would in acquiring new business opportunities.

Business leaders need to understand the dynamics of trust and work to increase it in the culture of their entire organization.

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You might think that having the ideal workplace is just a utopian dream. Colleagues are communicating openly. Everyone collaborating without a hitch. Your team is supporting each other's success. This can all be achieved when leaders grow trust in the workplace.

Having a high-trust organization is when a leader inspires confidence that their team members can try without fear of consequences if they fail. This is one of the characteristics of a good leader. It takes a lot of effort but is so worthwhile.

Dan Coyle Explains Building Trust

People Leadership Starts with Trust

Here's the thing: any leadership role requires building trust. It is the bedrock of strong personal relationships. Every team member will feel secure with their insights respected. 

Relationship trust increases overall employee engagement and loyalty. When you don't build trust, all communication breaks down. The team suffers, and morale drops. It hinders everyone.

Research shows that high-trust companies experience 106% more energy at work and significantly lower turnover rates compared to low-trust companies. There is also a "trust formula" that describes how credibility, reliability, and intimacy are the key factors that increase trust.

Credibility is basically the extent of knowledge or experience in a certain subject matter. Reliability refers to the consistency in fulfilling promises and commitments. Intimacy shows how deep your relationships are.

With these main factors, leaders can build a high-trust environment where collaboration thrives, morale soars, and productivity flourishes.

Out with Traditional Leadership

Trust is at the heart of effective leadership because it represents a leader's most valuable asset. However, in order to maintain trust, you require a shift in perspective.

Traditional leadership refers to a conventional approach to leading that emphasizes the authority, vision, and decision-making power of the leader. In traditional leadership models, the leader typically takes center stage, directs the organization, and helps team members based on their own vision, business strategy, and personal attributes through their charisma or expertise.

While this type of leadership can make an organization successful, emphasizing individual abilities, effective leaders know that leadership today transcends the self. Harvard Business Review advocates for empowerment leadership, where the focus shifts to empowering others and ensuring sustained impact beyond one's presence.

This trust-building approach requires leaders to extend trust. What we mean by this is fostering a form of smart trust with clear expectations and strong accountability. 

Genuine leaders naturally lean towards forming trusting relationships, creating an environment of collaboration and empowerment that can inspire trust, rather than breed skepticism.

Reasons Why Employees Don't Trust Their Leaders

Do you feel like your team members feel hesitant to reach out to you? There might be a lack of trust there.

Your vision might be clear, and the way you deliver it is great. But if you don't extend trust, there will always be some sort of self-doubt that hinders the success of your organization. Here are some common challenges why employees don't trust their leaders.

  • When leaders withhold information or are vague about decisions
  • Leaders lose credibility when they fail to make good on their promises
  • If leaders show favoritism towards certain people
  • When leaders don't care about their employees' concerns
  • When there's a constant Big Brother Eye looking over everything the team does
  • Leaders who can't admit mistakes and try to blame them on others
  • If there's an obvious lack of reliable communication from leaders
  • Leaders prioritize their personal interests over the well-being of the team

Building trust and respect in your leadership team is an ongoing process. This requires leaders to honor commitments. When you build trust, team members get to thrive, and collaboration simply flourishes on its own. 

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How Leaders Build Trust in the Workplace

No matter what leadership style you go for, it is always going to be integral for leadership to build trust amongst their people. The goal should always be to grow into a high-trust organization. These are effective ways to start building trust in the workplace.

  1. Lead by Example: Show integrity and honesty in every action and decision.
  2. Keep Things Open: Practice transparency by communicating openly with your team. Feel free to share information, give updates, and provide feedback regularly.
  3. Listen Up: How did you feel? Can you tell me more? Get into active listening. It gives you a better understanding of the other person and gets totally engaged.
  4. Make Employees Feel Empowered: Let your teams decide on the work they're meant to do. Trust that they will do their job well. Provide opportunities for growth and development.
  5. Give Employees Much-Needed Support: Don't forget to offer guidance, too. This goes well with letting them be empowered while still providing the support they need to succeed in their roles.
  6. Create a Safe Environment: Everyone deserves to be respected. Maintain a culture of kindness and safety where team members feel that they belong.
  7. Take Responsibility: Do not put the blame on others. Everyone makes mistakes! Take accountability for your actions. Admit what you did wrong, and just learn from it.
  8. Keep the Appreciation Going: Big or small, success deserves to be celebrated. Appreciate your team's efforts and milestones. Employee recognition goes a long way to keeping your best people around.
  9. Build Relationships: Invest some time in building rapport. Personal connections with your team can go a long way in achieving a healthy working environment.
  10. Lead with Empathy: Show compassion and understanding towards employees' feelings and challenges.

It takes guts to be an effective leader. The best leaders know that in order to build trust in the workplace, they must commit not only to patience but also requires them to put down their barriers, which involves self-awareness and connecting with their team on a personal level.

Unleashing the Potential of Your Organization

How often do you conduct one-on-one performance reviews with your team? Providing regular performance feedback to every employee is a critical part of effective leadership.

 If you’d like to learn more about maximizing performance through business leadership coaching, connect with us or consider attending one of our upcoming leadership events.

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Tim O'Connor