When you work in a trusting environment, you feel energetic and productive. You know that others are giving you the benefit of the doubt and supporting you. They have your back and you feel it. Trust is the building block of all great teams and relationships. It’s impossible to be a true leader without your being able to build and maintain a base of trust with those you lead.
How can you build trust? Trust develops when you consistently show up as who you say you are and follow through on the commitments you make. You build trust when your behavior aligns with the promises you make. If you make a promise and can’t fulfill it, you can recover most times by telling the person you made the promise to that you need to re-negotiate what you can do in the changing situation. For example, say you told your team that you would have all their performance reviews completed by the end of the 4th quarter. A couple of weeks later, you are assigned to a big project and the demands of working on it begin taking a toll on other priorities. Instead of just letting the deadline you communicated slide, you would update your team and make sure people know that you need to re-negotiate your prior promise, and why. Great leaders are transparent and communicate directly with others.
Many organizations have stated values that serve as guiding principles. Whether they are actively used as behavioral guidelines is another story. You build trust as a leader when you reinforce and hold yourself and others accountable for acting in alignment with the organization or team’s stated values. For example, if one of the values is “integrity” or “doing the right thing,” model it consistently and address situations where someone on the team might have behaved in violation of that value. In turn, reward and recognize team members when they display integrity in action as well. You can use the organization’s values as a framework for how you, your co-workers and your team will treat each other. If you don’t have clear values in your company, develop your values with your team.
A clear, powerful and true values statement guides individual behaviors and decisions. It creates boundaries as to what are acceptable ways to solve problems and achieve goals. Your values statement makes it clear to people how they should treat each other and how they should treat customers. If you stay consistent with your values, model and talk about them often, you will build and enhance trust. For additional suggestions on building trust by defining your team or company values, click here.