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Are you a trusted leader?

Are you a trusted leader?

Do you trust your team? Do they trust you?

Do your colleagues trust you? Do your team trust you? How do you know?

Are you a trusted leader? As leaders and managers we expect the people around us to trust our judgement, our management decisions and our leadership. Anyone who has done a leadership development program, has learned how important your individual style and charisma is to your success as a leader. That is absolutely true for some leaders, on some occasions. Day to day leadership relies on a much more important skill; whether you have empowered other people to act and behave appropriately.

If people like you they will listen to you. If they trust you, they will do business with you.

Behaviour can change when you are trusted

A manager I knew was told that her team stopped work and started misbehaving, when she was out of the office. There was one particularly influential team member who wanted to undermine her leadership. The manager decided to focus on building stronger individual relationships with each of her team and empowering them in their work. Through team meetings, performance coaching and one to one meetings, her team became aware that she trusted them to do their job and do it well. Within a few short weeks the team simply ignored the trouble maker and got on with their work. The team placed a higher value on the level of trust she had in them, than they did on the relationship with their colleague.  

We think of trust as precious, and yet it’s the basis for almost everything we do as civilized people.

Trust is essentially reciprocal. It’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t trust you. Showing your team you trust them to do their work is part of the way you help them to trust you. What else do you need to do?

The Triangle of Trust

The triangle of trust gives three cornerstones to building relationships based on trust.

Logic This is about you trusting the people around you to do their work, to make decisions based on sound judgement and technical skill or knowledge. It also calls on you to trust people because you know they can do the task. The implication for this foundation, is that you need to get to know your team or colleagues. Unless you make some effort to get to know your team, you will have no basis for trusting them to do their work. It may be that one of your team needs some coaching to improve performance. Or perhaps they are doing things a particular way because that’s what they have been told to do, but don’t really know if it’s the right or wrong way to do it. 

As a manager and leader, it’s your job to talk with your people and understand what they need from you to perform well. Even the most skilled and proficient worker needs feedback, support and access to a manager who will both listen and talk.

Authentic This is you being yourself and your team knowing it’s OK for them to be themselves too. You have good days and bad days, you might not be popular, you might be good at some things and terrible at others. The important thing is for people to believe they are dealing with the real you. Authenticity doesn’t mean being perfect, always knowing the answer or being the best manager. It means being consistently yourself, true to your values and personality, regardless of who you are talking to, how much pressure you face or the urgency of the situation. When your team know that you are the same person whether you’re talking to them or the CEO, that you are reliably you whatever day it is, then trust begins to develop.

When your team trust you, they can be their real selves at work too. It becomes safe to admit that there are things they don’t enjoy, don’t feel good at, or raise issues and concerns. Once you have reached the point where your team are consistently being themselves around you, then you have established a solid basis for two way trust.

Empathy Do you honestly care about the people in your team? Do you want them to succeed? Do you take time to ask how they are? Have one to ones and let them speak? Give coaching to help them think through situations or improve their performance? Do you pay attention when they are having a challenging time at work or at home? Are you supportive and a good listener? If you can answer yes to these questions, you are being empathetic and you are well on your way to being a trusted leader and manager.

It takes time to build trust

Here are two stories colleagues have shared  about trust.

I was working with a police force and the community they served. The aim was to help both sides to build a more positive relationship. After one meeting, a senior leader in the police force asked me, “what else do we need to do? We have regular meetings. We put our officers through diversity and cultural awareness training. We review the data on arrests and cautions. What more do we need to do to get these people to trust us?”

I told him, “you’re talking about what you have been doing for the last 18 months. For the 30 years before that you behaved badly towards this community. There is a long history of mistrust. You didn’t listen to them or work with them. You were not always honest with them and you treated them differently to other parts of the community. Building trust is a long term project. If you want people to trust you, you need to be consistent and trustworthy for long enough they will believe your words and your actions.”

We don’t do business with companies. We do business with people

Helen talked about her manager. “The thing is, we are all good at what we do. We are skilled, qualified, we are all bright people. We know what the targets are, we work hard to achieve them. Every single meeting he talks about who is under performing and what we need to do to hit the overall targets. He micromanages everything. He has never once asked what support any of us might need to improve success rates. I feel he doesn’t trust me and frankly, phoning in every day to give a detailed report on my actions each day is demotivating. I’m looking for another job. I actually like this job I just can’t work with someone who doesn’t trust me to do it.” Helen left soon after. That particular manager had around 70% annual turnover in his team and no one – not HR, not the management team – questioned why this team – and only this team – had such a high staff turnover.

With high trust, success comes faster, better and at lower cost

Can your managers and leaders build trust?

Trust is a set of behaviours as well as a mindset. If your organization would benefit from improving the level of trust internally, so that client and customer confidence improves, then we can help. For a conversation about helping your managers and teams be  genuinely effective, do get in touch. We understand how to help managers stay on top of their challenges. We have been helping oeprational managers and leaders develop and grow since 2007. 

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