Trust is the most basic building block of successful relationships. In a trusting environment you have a greater potential to overcome obstacles and achieve success. When a team and its leaders work together, openly depending on each other, there are no limits. The most respected leaders build organizations that are rooted in integrity.
In day-to-day operations you have to trust that if I say I’m going to do something that I will really do it. You have to feel confidence that I’ve told you the whole story and am not holding back. In order for us to work together effectively you have to trust me and I have to trust you. It is not complicated, in theory.
However, in practice trust must be based on shared values and built over time. Honesty is one of the values that has to shine through in all relationships. A lack of it, including making false promises, spreading rumors, plagiarizing, playing favorites or blaming others, can quickly sour any relationship.
That said, mistakes happen. And they can be fixed with transparency. Regardless of the reason, if you realize that you were not honest on a particular topic, your immediate goal should be to return to the original communication with an apology and a clarification. If you take action voluntarily and quickly enough the level of trust in your workplace relationship may not experience any setback.
Seeing trust in action
Leaders earn trust by modeling expected behavior. We all know that employees take behavioral cues from their leaders. So, for example, if respect is a key value at your company it is incumbent on you to show respect to others. If you demonstrate disrespect, you will begin to lose the trust of your team. Good leaders model the right behavior at work and everywhere else in life. Said another way, leaders are always on stage.
Trust can erode quickly in times of great stress. Suppose you’re late with a project: Everyone is working overtime and your boss is putting the hammer down. Sound familiar? During times like this tempers often flare and sometimes people say things that they later regret. We’re human. The great thing about trust is it can often be rebuilt with a simple apology and a handshake. You’ll never regret extending a heartfelt “I’m so sorry.” And you may even get one in return.
Likewise, when big changes are taking place in your organization there is usually much uncertainty in the minds of your team. Leaders can alleviate such stress by communicating what they know, deliberately and in-depth. Then listen and respond to questions as best you can. It is also just fine to say, “I don’t know, but I will try to find out.” Times like this present much opportunity to build trust.
Recognizing good performance whenever and wherever you see it also builds trust. Celebrate positive outcomes. Reward breakthrough ideas. Make everyone on your team feel good about individual and join efforts.
Your conduct as a leader is everything. You build trust when you are honest, fair, open, authentic and caring. You earn trust when you show trust.
published Nashville Business Journal