Leadership wins with trust, empowerment

Published by The Nashville Business Journal

Want to win in a leadership role? Learn to trust your team, peers and business partners. When delegating responsibility, the most powerful and motivating words you can utter are, “I trust you.” Research shows that organizations and leaders that are trusted have lower employee turnover, higher revenue growth and greater profitability. So how do you get started?

First, talk to team members about specific job responsibilities and how each person goes about getting things done. Listen with sincere interest. Ask questions and show you support them. Then ensure your team’s interests are aligned with the company’s goals.

Now it’s time to build deeper trust by engaging more personally. Pay attention to the special talents and quirks of individuals and give honest, thorough and frequent feedback. Early constructive discussions on difficult issues work best. Talk periodically to each person about career goals, and don’t assume they’re the same as what you remember from a conversation two years ago. When it comes to career growth you are the most important person in the loop.

Your most important trust-building skill as a leader of people is communication. Keep no secrets. Be honest and upfront. Speak frequently about the issues and values that are most important. If there are black clouds on the horizon, be sure to do the talking before rumors beat you to it. Trusted leaders always communicate ahead of the grapevine.

All of your words and actions are observed, so do what you say. When you make a commitment, follow through. If something comes up that prevents you from honoring your word, explain the situation so your team understands the circumstances. When you are open about issues, people understand, but if you ignore or bury the topic, people will become distrustful.

Start with “I trust you” and watch the faces on your team light up. Your stars will rise — and so will your wins.


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