Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Want to build or rebuild trust in your leadership?

I came across this brief article I wrote over 10 years ago. Some things never change . . . but then again, we might be able to change or rebuild things with a new approach.
Trust is the foundation of effective leadership. How do we build trust? More importantly, how do we earn it?

Here are three tactical tools that you’ll want to consider or revisit as you build, rebuild and/or maintain your team’s trust in you.

1. Always, always, keep your employees’ welfare, esteem and success in mind, even in the most difficult situations and concerning the most difficult individuals. A guideline I recommend is that when you’re about to communicate something or take action regarding a member of your team, or the team overall, ask yourself these questions:
– Does my doing or communicating this benefit the employee or team?
– Does my doing or communicating this benefit the organization?
– Does my doing or communicating this benefit me and my ability to lead?
If the answer is “yes” to all three of these questions, you’re confirming that your motive is in line, and most likely you’ll experience a positive or at least the best possible outcome. If the answer is “no” to any one of these questions, you may want to reconsider your actions because you may be generating less than favorable outcomes.

2. Follow through on what you promise. Guarantee the absolute doable only, or know when not to promise at all. One of the mistakes that’s easy to make and that can quickly and negatively affect your team’s trust in you, is promising more than you may be able to accomplish, or promising things over which you may have little or no control. Use every opportunity to make commitments (however small) that are doable, and then follow through. Bottom line: Say it, do it. Say it, do it. Pretty soon your word will be golden.

3. Reflect on experiences you’ve had in your own career when you found yourself trusting or distrusting a manager, leader, or colleague. Ask yourself what behaviors they demonstrated that positively—or negatively—affected your willingness to trust him or her, then use—or avoid—the behaviors that mirror them.

Building trust takes time and is not always easy, but it is simple. If we want to be trusted, we need to be trustworthy.

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