When it comes to leadership, having trust within your team and organization can significantly impact your ability to inspire, motivate, and drive actions and ideas, and even positive change within your organization. Developing trust as a leadership skill is a great way to not only provide you with a better workplace atmosphere, but allows your team to feel empowered to achieve their goals and work towards the company’s vision without feeling like they are being micro-managed.

Trust is a huge part of being an effective leader and developing your presence as one. It allows you to establish respect and empowerment among those in your organization or on your team. How can you increase trust?

1 – Communication and that also means listening.  It may sound like a broken record, but open and honest communication is the key to a great team.  When we listen, learn and grow from others as a leader, we build the trust and respect of the team.  People need to feel valued, heard and empowered at work, so provide great communication and as much of an “open door” as you can, especially around setting goals or when change is on the horizon.

2 – Lead by example.  If you say you will do something, do it.  This helps you gain a lot of trust in your team.  Don’t promise something you will never or cannot do.  This happens all too often with a leader hearing out something (usually about another employee), saying they will take care of it, then doing nothing.  This disempowers your team and encourages them not to share ideas, safety concerns, etc. with you.  Lead change and be sure you follow up and provide as much feedback to the person who communicated to you as is ethical and permitted.

3 – Drive performance.  Yes, this builds trust when we set clear and concise goals and follow up with our team to see how they are doing, or if they need any help or resources to achieve the goals.  Leaders who help employees set goals, but then never follow up or follow up at the dreaded annual review, are not building trust as they are not helping employees achieve goals by driving performance.  Doing too little too late means goals are not only met, but the team may no longer feel you believe in them or the goals of the organization

4 – Know the company’s vision and values, live them and train on them.  Your influence around this is very important as it shows you believe in the company; you live the culture, and you expect the employees to do the same.  This not only builds up your credibility as a leader for the organization, but also shows you care about the place you work for and working towards the vision.

5 – Empower your team.  When you trust your team and they trust you, it is easier to provide your team with opportunities, further responsibility, perhaps a larger budget without approvals, and some other decision making as well (depending on their role).  Doing this creates team autonomy as well, where you can then lead rather than manage – after all these are somewhat different rolls.

6 – Ask for feedback and take action.  Yes, you have seen me say this a few times, but when we do not seek feedback on our behaviours or leadership skills, it can be difficult to know how we can improve to be a more trusted and effective leader.  If this is a new thing for you and the team, start small.  Perhaps ask them if they need any resources for the goals you have set for them.  Maybe you ask them for their thoughts on solutions for a problem you have to solve.  Doing these small things will help you begin to build the trust to the point where you can ask more direct questions such as: ‘As a leader, what is one piece of advice you would give me to be a better leader for you?’  Remember, listening is step one.  Taking action to improve needs to be your driving force as you develop and enhance your leadership skills.

Developing trust as a leader does not have to be some onerous task.  It is about a journey of growth for yourself and your team.  By building credibility, inspiring others, and leading by example, leaders can create a trusting atmosphere, which allows others to feel heard and welcomed.  They will share ideas, embrace change more easily and you may just learn a way or two you can grow and develop your own leadership skills.

Need help?  We have you covered from training and coaching to a community dedicated to leaders.  Learn more at www.amplifyingleadership.ca

Tara Lehman

(Image from Microsoft Stock Images)

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