Every relationship is based on trust. The leadership relationship is no different.
I’m lucky to work for some people today who trust me immensely. They have always given me plenty of rope, especially lately. I’m very thankful for this.
But trust is a tricky thing because some people require others to earn it, while other people give it freely. Then there is your posture with respect to how you view your trustworthiness.
Think about that for a moment:
Do you require people to earn your trust or do you give it freely?
When you want to be seen as trustworthy, do you assume you have it or do you need to earn it?
If you were to answer those questions honestly it would likely reveal a lot about your interactions with other people. Your views on trust and trustworthiness shape each and every relationship you have.
Here is a short list of things (in no particular order) leaders and teams can do to build more trust into the relationship.
Trusting Your Team
- Give real responsibility
- Give opportunities to succeed
- Give opportunities to fail
- Don’t oversee every last detail
- Watch carefully for great ideas because, collectively, they’re better then you could generate alone
- Embrace variation in the timelines of their learning process
- See beauty in the magic of the individual and use it to differentiate your organization
- Appreciate their backstory, everyone has baggage, including you
- Believe in the good of people
- Be human, faults and all, and they will see courage, confidence and humility, not weakness
Trusting Your Leader
- Get on board with the plan
- Value and honor their experience
- Know they mean well and care about you as a person, even if their methods or style are confusing at first – they are humans too, after all
- Confront them with real issues, professionally
- Be patient in the long-term journey of your career
- Leave your baggage behind
- Accept challenging projects, even if they appear crazy at first glance
- Bring your whole self to work
- Follow, even when the leader inside you is screaming no
- Believe they have a bigger purpose and vision for a better future and are making good decisions based on that
Earning Trust From Your Team
- Give trust first
- Be humble, generous and vulnerable
- Live your company values more than you talk about them
- Show them that their work has purpose and meaning
- Encourage and solicit their unique perspectives
- Give them support and invest extra time, even when you don’t have it
- Be really approachable – right or wrong, you are on a pedestal to them
- Give honest feedback
- Really listen and don’t be defensive
- Accept responsibility for the bad, give credit for the good
Earning Trust From Your Leader
- Give trust first
- Take ownership of projects
- Over-deliver, whenever possible
- Share creative ideas, don’t be stingy or possessive
- Be patient
- Accept correction, don’t be defensive
- Make sacrifices
- Own your mistakes
- Ask questions early and often
My gut and experience tells met that, these days, trust is earned more often than it is given as a gift. Either way, it’s probably a good idea to approach trust with humility.
Assume you need to earn it from others – the first step is to give it freely.