We have all had a leader who we didn’t respect or like. In that experience, no matter how intelligent or charming or even highly competent this leader appeared to be, you knew that placing blind trust in him or her would be a mistake. You were always watching your back waiting for the sucker punch to come.
My first real experience with this came fairly early in my career during an off-site team building event put on by my senior team leaders. The task at hand was to walk across a high beam two stories above the ground with a harness, where the only person there to support me was my immediate boss. To this day, almost 15 years later, I can still feel the lurch in my stomach at the thought of having to trust this person. At that moment, I suddenly realized I did not feel confident that my boss could aid me safely cross the beam, let alone on my career path. The problem is, once fear creeps in, you become paralyzed. At that specific moment, my lack of trust allowed fear to become my primary motivation. That day, it took me three hours to finally complete the task.
I’ve learned that it takes time to build up trust, and that it only takes suspicion – not proof – to destroy it. What happens to you as a leader if your opinions are not trusted? Will your decisions and evaluations be welcomed or will they be put to the sidelines?
Trust is something that has to be earned and maintained. When you are working in a high trust environment, you can motivate and lead at an accelerated rate so your team will accomplish even the most frightening and daunting tasks for you. As Stephen M.R. Covey says in his book, The Speed of Trust, “Trust is a powerful accelerator to performance and when trust goes up, speed also goes up while cost comes down.”
Follow these six methods to help any leader instill respect and trust in their team:
- Be Transparent Be clear about your intentions, not trusting blindly. Demonstrate honesty and humility in your words and actions.
- Own it When undesirable outcomes happen, we are all quick to point the finger. When you are willing to take ownership, even if it’s not directly your fault, your employees will start to let go and trust you. As the leader of a team, you need to accept the responsibility for both the good and the bad.
- Pull vs. Push Model the behavior that you desire to see in others, and make sure you praise your team members in front of their peers and other superiors. Applaud group efforts and results, and do not try to take sole credit for a team achievement.
- Don’t push, let go of the leash Give your employees freedom to explore new ideas and to be creative. Micromanaging people breeds distrust. Make room for failures and, more importantly, the opportunity to learn from those failures.
- Feedback Fighting is not productive, but neither is false agreement. Feedback is critical. When there is a difference of opinion, promote discussion and explore creative solutions with the intent to solve problems. And beware – if disagreement never occurs, then your team is afraid of telling you the truth.
- Leverage your teams’ talent We all have weaknesses that can be exploited, and we have strengths that can be leveraged. Take the time to learn what is unique to each individual, and find ways to apply those strengths for the benefit of the whole team.
Photo Thanks To: opensourceway