Becoming an excellent leader isn’t as simple as a job title change. In fact, some of the greatest leaders in history struggled between being feared or being admired. Thankfully, you can learn from the greats.
We’ve gathered five surefire ways you can build trust as a leader.
As children, we were cautioned about strangers. You probably listened to the adults who told you strangers weren’t to be trusted because you knew them and knew they had your best interests at heart.
This is a perfect example of the power of connection in establishing trust as a leader. These adults were able to lead you in your life because you had a connection with them. Employees, volunteers, colleagues, bosses, and peers will only give their trust when they feel a connection with you. To begin building trust, you need to first make that connection.
2. Be Honest
If someone were to promise you something, but then not give it to you, you wouldn’t trust them the next time they make a promise. Consistent honesty leads to building trust because you know the person will not lie to you.
Dishonesty destroys trust. You don’t have time to rebuild trust if you want to lead other people. Be honest right from the beginning with people. Remember that trust happens naturally whenever honesty is present.
3. Share Responsibility
In the business world, sharing responsibility is often called “delegation” or “macro-management.” Sharing responsibility is the opposite of a behavior most people abhor: micro-management.
When you were a toddler, you probably needed somebody to open your milk carton for you and remind you to wash your hands before dinner. But now that you are an adult, not only can you handle tasks for yourself, you are also smart and creative and ambitious enough to want new challenges to tackle at work.
This is why leaders who share responsibility by delegating work to staff and volunteers have a much easier time building trust than those whom micromanage or try to do everything themselves.
Only by demonstrating trust in others can you earn trust as a leader. A distrusting leader micromanages and wants to handle everything personally. In contrast, a trusting leader delegates and shares responsibility.
Here again, as a child you probably had certain folks you shared your secrets with (like a best friend, a teacher, or a parent). But then, with some other people, you learned not to say anything because you knew that as soon as your back was turned, everyone else would know what you told them in confidence.
As a leader, this is one area that doesn’t really change. You still have to decide who you can trust and communicate openly with. This is especially critical because, as a leader, you will naturally be privy to certain information reserved only for you.
In some cases, you will need to keep this information completely confidential. But where you can share information and current company news and achievements with your staff, you can communicate more than just headlines—you can communicate trust. By opening up and communicating, whether it be to acknowledge mistakes and offer solutions to fix them, or to celebrate wins and give everyone their fair share of credit, you build trust effortlessly.
5. Show Courage
Oddly, courage is not a quality that is talked about too much when it comes to leadership, although complementary qualities like transparency, humility, supportiveness, compassion, creativity, and vision are all frequently mentioned.
Courage encompasses all of these traits, and more. Showing courage means
- Opening up and making a connection,
- Communicating openly and honestly,
- Having vision and then daring to express it to others, and
- Asking for help and striving constantly to do better.
In this way, courage is perhaps the most powerful way to build trust. By showing your own courage, you encourage those who know you, work with you, and live with you to do the same.
Connecting, communicating, delegating, being honest, and showing courage are all surefire ways any leader can begin building trust where trust is needed and wanted. Every person knows how to build trust, but often you don’t study what you know until you are tapped for a leadership role. To build trust now, remember what you already know about trusting and being trusted and then do that every day.
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