When you look at the most successful leaders of the past and present, you'll likely see that there are plenty of differences in how those individuals led their teams. Different visions, different ways of achieving results, and different types of communication skills are common. But you'll definitely find one thing that they all share: their teams trusted them. Building trust needs to be on the absolute top of your list when it comes to developing yourself as a leader. Without trust, your team will not get behind your vision no matter how spectacular it is. They also won't be loyal to the company nor work their hardest for you. Simply put, if your team doesn't trust you, you'll never get the results you want for them.
The Impact of Failing to Build Trust
A company that is led by an untrusted leader is a very shaky one. No matter how skillful your team is or how solid your business's products or services, this type of company will always suffer from frequent turnover, impaired productivity, and low morale. Frustration, backstabbing, and skepticism will abound, and you'll find it hard to keep the right people on the team and keep them all rowing in the right direction.
That's the bad news. The good news is, you can start strengthening the trust bonds on your team now. No matter what this has looked like in the past, you have the power to change the future. Here are a few strategies that work.
How to Strengthen the Trust Bonds with Your Team
Understand That Trust Takes Time and Effort
One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is thinking their team will trust them simply because they are at the head of the organization. This is just not true. Trust is not given, it is earned and it takes time to earn it. This doesn't mean you have to do everything right all the time, but it does mean that you need to start displaying the qualities of a trustworthy individual on a very consistent basis, including owning up when you do mess up. It also means that you need to be patient. If you have a new team, understand that it will take time for them to trust you, and so keep your eye on your goals instead of questioning their loyalty.
No matter how competent you are as a leader, your team won't fully trust you unless you also show some compassion. Your team does not consist of robots, and there will certainly be days when some of them are not at their best. Pulling in team members to a private conversation if they seem to be having a tough time and offering solutions and support instead of criticism is one of the best ways to show your team you have their back.
Do What is Right, Not What is Easy
As a leader, you are faced with dozens of decisions every day. Great leaders are always focused on what is right instead of what is easy, and your team will notice if you are consistently moving forward with integrity. You'll be tempted to take the easy route many times over the course of your career, but keep in mind that your team is always watching and that they are judging your character with each decision you make.
The best leaders aren't the ones who spend most of their time in board rooms or in their offices--they're the ones who are down in the trenches with their team. Showing your team that you're willing to pitch in and help out is crucial to developing the deep connections with them that are needed for trust.
A team of individuals who trust their leader are more productive, happier, and more loyal to a company and a cause. If you have not yet tried the above strategies or if you have just taken on a new position of leadership, start putting them into place now to build the trust needed to succeed.
Trish Cody is an Executive Awareness Coach and Speaker who focuses on optimizing results for business leaders. With over 20 years of experience as a strategic consultant for some of the world's top Fortune 500 companies, Trish Cody has coached and consulted with senior level teams in planning, designing, launching, and measuring the return for major initiatives. As a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Practitioner, Trish works with senior level leaders and business owners to raise their levels of self-awareness and create more trust, loyalty and success in their businesses and teams. Contact Trish at firstname.lastname@example.org.