At the very foundation of the notion of leadership lies trust. Without it, no project or team dynamic could be optimal. Moreover, in an ideal conception of leadership, all of the aspects of trust are linked with each other: the leader must be a trustworthy person; he or she must be able to win others’ trust and help them develop their confidence.
It is very difficult for anyone to accept that others could doubt their integrity, so, unfortunately, it is quite common for employees to mistrust their managers – and that always makes productivity suffer.
Hence, here are 10 ways for a leader to ensure that their employees and colleague trust them!
1 – Being Worthy of Trust Means Being Genuine
If you want to be trustworthy, be honest. If you want to be honest, be genuine. If you want to be genuine, be yourself
In order to earn employees’ trust, it is essential to be genuine, show humility, have enough courage to be yourself and allow yourself to be in a somewhat vulnerable position. Your subordinates need to know that the one who leads them is not a superhero but simply a human being like themselves.
The first thing to do in order to be genuine: know yourself better!
Is it possible to develop one’s leadership skills? The answer is YES! That being said, it is also true to say that some people have a natural predisposition to be leaders. In their case, leadership abilities are easier to develop, but then again, all of us can develop better leadership skills!
2 – Trust Requires Being Held Accountable and Being Responsible
Trust cannot be given to one who has never made any mistakes
Admitting one’s mistakes and taking responsibility for them enables one to gain the trust of one’s team members. A manager who has a tendency to flee from uncomfortable situations or to blame others will have a very hard time earning their employees’ trust.
A true leader will know when to own up to the responsibility for their team’s mistakes because they are responsible for it – they are accountable for the team, without which they should not hold the title of manager!
3 – Counting on Everyone’s Positive Sides
We all have strengths and weaknesses. In order to be worthy of trust, it is essential for a manager to know how to be able to rely on each team member’s talents, finding the optimal contribution each person could make.
It is, after all, easy to give your trust to someone who sees what is positive in you and who seeks to make you contribute in the areas in which you perform best. In the opposite case, the employee will take a defensive stance, and trust is only possible when the guards are down.
4 – In Order to Earn Employees’ Trust, There Must Be Autonomy
In order to develop a feeling of trust, it is essential to let individuals have some autonomy, and to trust and empower them. A manager who doesn’t trust their team will never earn its trust in return.
5 – Expressing Gratitude
A trustworthy manager must know how to recognize the efforts and successes of the members of their team in front of peers and superiors. One who wants to keep all the credit to him- or herself will never be worthy of trust.
When researching leadership style models, it can get quite confusing as to which ones to apply. Leadership models may vary in the names they use to describe each of their styles and in the quantity of styles they offer, and this can get quite baffling.
6 – Sharing Information in Order to Earn Employees’ Trust
Think of a manager who would keep information to him- or herself in order to maintain power and control. Or of a manager who would use information as a reward, or to strengthen certain relationships while excluding others? Would you trust them?
Information that is beneficial for the greater good should be shared with all in a spirit of favouring productivity, exchange and teamwork.
Some information may not be shared by some individuals because of discretion, lack of time or simply by lack of judgment, but in every one of these cases, this decision does not involve intentionally withholding information. No matter whether it is done on purpose or not, the sharing of information is important in order to earn others’ trust, because without that, the team members may have the impression that the manager is hiding things!
Knowing how to inform other is an essential competency for leadership, since it helps trust grow, motivates and enhances productivity.
7 – Gaining Trust Also Means Saying Things As They Are
Not only is it important not to lie in order to gain others’ trust, it is just as important to say things as they are, to have the courage of expressing your own opinions, and to say what needs to be said at the right time, to the right person, in the right manner.
Saying things as they are also means not overly embellishing or darkening reality in order to be able to look it in the eye and share it with the team.
Many managers use fear in order to better maintain control, or to “motivate action”, as they might say. Keep in mind that fear is the No. 1 enemy of trust and without the latter, a leader would be quite inept.
8 – Acting on One’s Words
Trust is the result of a relationship and not its starting point; it gets built and developed with time!
How would one do so? By being true to their promises and commitments. If you say you will do a certain thing, even something small, do it! If it never materializes, or if promises are seldom held, it is unlikely that trust will ever blossom.
What are you looking for? A good manager or leader? Is there a difference? A lot of people would argue that yes, the two positions of power differ quite significantly in, well, just that: How they apply this power. One exudes the power to oversee, control and administer whereas the latter is said to empower!
9 – Say No To Overselling!
There is a big difference between aiming high and overselling!
The ambition to face challenges and go beyond objectives is important, but in order to develop trust, one should avoid exaggeration, promises that cannot be kept or completely unrealistic objectives.
Don’t promise anything that you will not be able to do! When uncertain, it is much better to say, “I don’t know, I will come back to you with an answer.”
Then again, in order to earn trust, a manager must be able to commit by answering Yes or No. He or she cannot always answer with, “I will try”.
10 – One Who Sows Confidentiality Reaps Trust
In order to develop trust, it is essential for a manager to know how to keep confidential information that is shared with him or her by the members of the team under wraps.
That being said, if you are not sure that you will be able to keep the information private because it concerns the team’s performance, be straightforward and tell the person who is sharing it with you that you will need to divulge this information and explain why.
Facing the music requires managerial courage, but it is most essential.
All in all, the first element needed in order to earn others’ trust is to know yourself to better understand your own behaviour, that of others, and tendencies in terms of personality traits.
Learn how to become a trustworthy leader by grasping the intricacies of your own character and those of the people who surround you, starting now.
Trust me, it is well worth it!