Trust is a feeling and a physical state, not an instruction. We trust those who make us feel safe in the face of danger and threat. A key function of leadership is to engender a climate of trust. Without a climate of trust people will not take risks, fearing they’ll be criticised or fired if things go wrong. Without a climate of trust people will not collaborate, fearing the other person will steal their ideas or interfere in ‘their stuff’. Without a climate of trust people will avoid showing weakness or saying when they’re not sure, fearing being undermined. All these things will ultimately lead to bad decisions, duplication of effort, lack of innovation, stagnant capability, cover-ups and bad customer service.
So, trust is essential in sustaining high-performing teams and organisations. But as a leader, where do you start with building a climate of trust? Here are a few tips that have worked for me and my clients:
- Be CLEAR about what you expect of team members and agree with each person what level of involvement you’ll have to help them to stay on track and for you to have confidence in them.
- Take ACCOUNTABILITY for the performance of your team and require team members to take responsibility for their part.
- Be CONSISTENT – do what you say and keep promises. Inconsistency is the enemy of trust.
- Be CONFIDENT in your vulnerability. Say when you don’t know or are not sure. Regularly ask for input and advice from colleagues and team members.
- Take a COACHING approach – a common reaction to not trusting members of our team is to start to micro-manage and give more instruction. Instead, increase the use of questions that help them to think for themselves e.g. what was your rationale for taking that approach? What impact did that have on the customer? What are the options? What did you learn from (the thing that went wrong) and what would you do differently next time?
- Never avoid the DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS. If you’re not sure how to go about having the conversation get support from a coach or another trusted adviser.
- Increase the levels of APPRECIATION and POSITIVITY.
For 1:1 and team coaching to help you build trust in your organisation, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44(0)7411 483319