In a relationship economy, trust is the primary currency. As a leader, it is up to you to set the value for that currency in your organization and to do the hard work to build your trust reserves.
One of the challenges leaders face is that for many people, building trust seems like one of those soft skills that is hard to access in clear and pragmatic ways. You may know trust is strong when you feel it, but what can you actually do to build it?
The access to trust begins with understanding that while trust may manifest as a feeling, it is based on assessments you and others make over time either consciously or unconsciously. The key is to be clear about the basis for making those assessments so you can honestly assess your own trustworthiness and clearly identify what you need to work on in order to build trust.
Here's a quick framework for doing a leadership
Are you being authentic?
If you want to build trust you must do the work to consciously make sure your beliefs and attitudes line up with your actions.
People will interpret inconsistencies between what you say and what you do as a lack of sincerity and authenticity, even when they can't pinpoint why there's a disconnect. When people sense you are being inauthentic their trust in you is undermined. Conversely, authenticity fortifies trust because it tells people that you care enough to be honest with yourself and to connect with them in a real way.
And remember this...
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Theodore Roosevelt
Being authentic demonstrates caring, which is critical to building trust as an effective leader.
- Do I tell people what I really think or what I think they want to hear?
- Am I genuinely appreciative of my team and the work they are doing? Am I expressing appreciation often and sincerely?
- Do I take the time to express the vision and goals to my team in a way that demonstrates their value and meaning to me? Do I engage them in conversations that help them to do the same for themselves?
Are you honest about your abilities?
The best leaders are clear about what they know and what they don't, and know what they are good at vs. where they need to rely on others. The ultimate sign that you are being honest about your abilities is when you ask for help and enlist the support you need to deliver on your commitments.
- Do I seek counsel early and often?
- Am I forthcoming when I don't know the answer?
- Do I openly honor those who contribute to our success?
Are you consistently acting with integrity?
People watch their leaders closely. They observe how well you keep your commitments to others and most especially to them. Your actions, not your words, will communicate your priorities in terms of both people and commitments.
- Am I walking my talk?
- Am I consistently keeping my commitments - and do I own it when I don't?
- Are my actions and requests of others communicating the priorities I have set for myself and my team?
Considering the above questions can help you build your trust reserves. And if you want to put your trustworthiness to the ultimate test, ask your team to answer these questions about you.
What can you work on to improve your trustworthiness as a leader?