What Can You Do to Inspire Trust?
Do employees trust the leadership at your company? Trust is one of the most essential forms of capital a leader can have, and yet many of us would not answer the proposed question with a strong "Yes!”. According to a Harvard Business Review article, in a study including 450 executives in 30 companies worldwide, roughly half of all managers didn’t trust their leaders. The findings of this research are rather scary as work environments with low levels of trust tend to be highly stressful, threatening, and unproductive. So, what can you do as a leader to inspire trust? Is the building of trust part of your leadership strategy? In the final installment of this two-part series, we will reflect on initiatives you can take to break “the lack of trust” cycle.
Your Employees Decide to Trust You
One of the biggest insights leaders need to have when building trust is realizing that it isn’t within their control. “Trust isn’t magically created” and you cannot demand that an employee trusts you. At the end of the day, employees decide whether or not they trust their managers. Sometimes leaders only discover the lack of trust when team members leave the company unexpectedly. But what can we do to build trust in the work environment?
Tips for Inspiring Trust
People tend to trust their leaders when they believe they are interacting with an authentic person, have faith in their competence and judgment, and feel their leaders care about them. “Building trust isn’t glamorous or easy. At times it involves making complex decisions and difficult trade-offs.” Still, it is one of those soft skills that can change your organization's future for the better and make a tremendous difference in your work environment.
How to Build Trust Include:
Be Authentic—Employees know when a leader is just trying to win them over. Be sincere with employees so they know they can trust you.
Create Shared Values—Focus on identifying what is fundamentally essential for you and your team. By creating a shared list of values, you can draw them together and connect with your employees more easily. “When a team identifies and commits to living shared values, there is a deeper level of trust, better problem-solving and increased collaboration.”
Walk the Talk—Be a strong leader by being a role model and by fulfilling your promises. The more your employees perceive your attitudes and decisions to be consistent with your values, the more they will trust you.
Align interests—Take your employees’ interests into account and find ways to accommodate them whenever possible. Reinforce the culture of doing what is right for the organization and not only to serve personal interests.
Create Safety—Show your employees empathy and create a psychologically safe work environment. Your employees should feel comfortable approaching you with any problem. “Offer some sort of safety net” and invest time in building and raising the levels of comfort in the workplace.
Show Support—Your employees should know that you are always there for them. When they feel supported, they will be more likely to come to you with issues or concerns.
Build Confidence—Your team should know that you are competent enough to support them. Include emotional intelligence in your leadership development plans, with a special focus on interpersonal skills building. Show them that you are competent, capable of working under pressure, and that you have their best interests at heart.
Don’t allow silos—Focus on teamwork and ways for teams to work together to build trust among team members.
A team that trusts its leader will always have more success in navigating change and improving performance. Companies with more trustworthy leaders have a significant competitive advantage as their teams work better, are more innovative, and productive. Treat the building of trust as one of your primary responsibilities as a leader.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you want to learn more, our 4-module Leadership Development Master Class for practitioners contains all the materials you'll need to improve your leadership skills to help you strengthen your connections with employees or clients. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a meeting to learn more about how we can partner with you to turn your leadership goals into reality!
Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. She possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a very strong and charismatic leadership style.
_________________________________________________________________________ Frei, F. X., & Morriss, A. (2020). Begin with trust. Harvard Business Review, 98(3), 112-121. Hurley, R.F., 2006. The decision to trust. Harvard Business Review, 84(9), pp.55-62. Sandra J. Sucher, S. J. & Gupta, S. (2019). The trust crisis. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from The Trust Crisis (hbr.org) 04/29/2021. Stoner, J. L. (2019). How to Create Shared Values That Guide Your Team to Greater Heights. Retrieved from How to Create Shared Values That Guide Your Team to Greater Heights | Jesse Lyn Stoner (seapointcenter.com) 05/01/2021.