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Are you leading with trust?

First, a visit to the past: Have you ever worked under someone who didn’t trust you? Or in whom you didn’t trust? How engaged were you? How did it feel to work with this leader?

Now a visit to the present: What level of trust have you developed with the people you lead? Are there those you don’t trust, or who you sense don’t trust you? What impact is this having on your team, your outcomes, or your organization?

Most organizations and team cultures are built on a results-orientation. Unless the underlying culture promotes a relationship-orientation, trust is hard to build.

What is trust, anyway? Some suggest that trust is confidence that someone will meet our expectations of them. Of course, our expectations may be unreasonable or unfounded, but we must still start with a degree of trust in order to build more trust. Trust is fragile, and easily broken, and it takes effort and time to rebuild, so it’s important to set boundaries and expectations up front.

Some basic trust builders:

  • Speak truthfully

  • Share information that affects others

  • Show genuine concern for others

  • Act with integrity

  • Deliver on promises

  • Be consistent and reliable

Beyond these basics, from your team members’ perspectives:

  • Do they feel they belong?

  • Are they being asked for their input on decisions that concern them?

  • Do they feel they can ask questions to get context on decisions and be able to voice their concerns without being shot down?

  • Have they received recognition for their successes or contributions?

  • Do they believe they are treated fairly?

  • Do they have opportunities to learn and stretch their capabilities, to take some risks?

  • Do they have what they consider enough much autonomy and choice in their work?

  • Do they feel secure in their position and certain of what is expected of them?

  • Are they operating out of a shared sense of purpose with the organization or team?

All of these components are the foundations for outstanding teamwork and loyalty. Even if your larger organization’s policy and culture don’t necessarily promote these qualities, you can instill them in your relationships with those who report to you.

Finally, a visit to the future: At its most basic, trust is the perception that you are “for” those on your team, and that being “for” them animates your interactions with them. How will you shift your interactions in a way that demonstrates you are for them, individually, and as a group?

In another post, I’ll discuss how trusting yourself affects your ability to trust others, and have them trust in you.

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