Successful leadership and trust go hand in hand. Unless the leader has the trust of his or her team, leadership is likely to be ineffective and will probably fail on most levels. Earning trust takes time, losing it is quick. As leaders it is easy to find ourselves in situations that cast doubt over our trustability. For example:
Have you ever been:
- In a situation when senior management have told you information that affects your team members, but for some reason you have been told not to share this with them?
- Had to discuss the results of the bonus scheme calculation with one of your team members and because the scheme is not transparent it looks like you are “robbing” the person of what he or she understands they have earned?
- Asked by senior management to support a particular decision which you personally disagree with, but you have to present this to your team as if you believe in the decision and support it whole heartedly?
There are many other situations that I am sure you can think of which jeopardise trust built with team members. These are dilemmas that leaders face on a daily basis. How can these and other similar situations that question your trust be handled effectively to maintain trust?
When considering options look for those that help you maximize the trust in your response with all concerned parties. In my experience gained during my career of leading teams in different hotel departments and ultimately in my own company “Concept Training and Development”, I have always tried to be open and honest with my team and with other groups, whether senior management, customers and clients. After all this is the way I would prefer others to be with me, even if I don’t like what they are telling me! Treat people as you would like to be treated is an approach that I strongly support and live by. Therefore, if going back to the first example above, does that mean that I betray senior management to be open and honest with my team? No, it simply means that I tell team members openly and with empathy, that “I am not at liberty to share information at this time, due to what ever circumstance. Once everything is clear and has been decided they will be informed.”
Living with integrity is a solid foundation on which others can learn to trust you. For others to know who you are and to begin to trust you, they have to know what your beliefs and values are, and therefore what foundation you are using to make decisions. Doing this over and over shows consistency and therefore builds reliability and trust of you. We cannot expect everyone to share our values, however being prepared to listen to and accept others values is also an important aspect of building trust. The following points are tips for encouraging and building trust in you, which I work with on a daily basis and which have proved to be reliable:
- Demonstrate trust of others – this comes first. If you show that you trust, it is likely that others will reciprocate.
- Say “thank you”. Notice your team members and the contributions they bring, to other team members, to the team as a whole and to you personally.
- Follow through on what you say you will do – be dependable and reliable. If you have agreed to do something and find for some unknown reason that you cannot deliver, manage by informing those who have a vested interest in a timely manner– don’t wait for them to come to you and ask!
- Be open and honest with feedback. Giving negative, constructive feedback is not always easy, but it is in the interest of both parties to do so. Be honest, constructive and sensitive, whilst being direct in order that the other person is not left guessing, does not feel steamrollered or treated unfairly.
- Stick to your commitments. Do not idly talk about something which involves another person and “forget” about it later. For example, if you agreed to work with a person to ensure their growth and development ensure you do so. If you agreed to put someone forward for promotion if they fulfill certain tasks and demonstrate certain capabilities, do it!
- Communicate with social intellect – if you can show that you understand the other person they are more likely to put trust in you.
- If you don’t know, say so! Just because you are the leader does not mean you have to know everything. This enables team members to come forward with ideas – and you might just be surprised at the level of skill and knowledge within your team!
- Above all learn from your mistakes. As leaders it is unlikely that we will get it right every time, but learning from those mistakes is the minimum we can do.