It doesn’t matter how competent you are as a leader, if your team doesn’t trust you, you won’t get very far.
What makes a great leader? It’s a relatively simple question but it continues to send even the deepest thinkers into a tailspin looking for the right answer to this question as old as time. We’ve all heard how great leaders harness the powers of a clear vision, confidence, creativity, honesty and integrity and emotional intelligence. But what about trust? What about being a leader who is seen as trustworthy?
A team without trust, isn’t really a team. It’s a group of individuals working together but making disappointing progress. A team without trust, does not cooperate well with one another. It doesn't matter how capable or talented your people are, they may never reach their full potential if trust isn't present. However, when trust is present, everyone in the team becomes stronger, because they are part of an effective, cohesive group. When people trust one another, the group can achieve truly meaningful goals.
Trust is essential to an effective team, because it provides a sense of safety. When your team members feel safe with each other, they feel comfortable to open up, take appropriate risks, and expose vulnerabilities. Without trust; innovation, collaboration, creative thinking, and productivity dissipate, and people spend their time feeling like they need to protect themselves and their interests – this is time that should really be spent helping the group attain its goals.
So how can you, as a leader, help your team to build the trust that it needs to thrive? In this article we'll look at the topic of trust within teams, why it's important, and the steps you can take to build it.
7 ways to build company-wide trust as a leader:
1. Communicate a Clear Vision
It’s no secret that people want to feel that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. Your employees depend on you to establish a clear vision, mission, and direction for them to align around. If you want your employees to get on board with new initiatives and produce meaningful work, you all need to be heading in the same direction. Your managers are the ones helping your teams turn the vision into action, and action into output, so make sure they’re well equipped with not just a mission statement, but a breakdown of how that translates to their team goals and objectives.
2. Establish Open Lines of Communication
You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it again, the only constant is change. As your company scales, building open lines of communication helps you stay attuned into your employees’ day-to-day realities and ever-changing needs. Maintaining a high-level view helps you pinpoint where they need support, visibility, or a new approach. And when you’re alert to those fluctuations, your employees will trust that you’re there to support them.
3. Transparency is Key
Transparency goes hand in hand with effective communication. It cannot simply mean sharing everything, all the time. it’s about communicating the most important information at the right time and making information easily accessible across your teams. Your employees don’t want to feel like they’re the last to know about big updates or changes in direction. Keep them up to date with developments in real-time.
4. Relationship Building for Enhanced Psychological Safety
Trust is a byproduct of relationship building and encouraging employees to develop these genuine connections nurtures the psychological safety on your teams. It’s crucial not to dismiss this idea as ‘fluff’. The feeling of safety encourages employees to give and receive constructive feedback, share new ideas, raise flags, challenge the status quo and have difficult conversations. This is what helps to build an environment of continuous learning and development that encourages the kind of creativity and innovation that can set your organization apart.
5. Show Your Employees That You Trust Them
When employees are empowered to leverage their strengths and expertise, it gives them the autonomy to do what they do best (the reason you hired them in the first place!). This trust from leadership nurtures employee loyalty and affinity, which improves retention and strengthens recruitment efforts.
6. Ask for Feedback and Act
Your employees want to know that their voice is important and that they’re being heard. Collecting employee feedback is essential to understanding your employees’ experience, picking up any potential issues early on, and gaining insights and new ideas from your workforce. But the most important part? Taking action. Turn your employees’ feedback into changes, initiatives or talking points to let them know their opinions matter.
7. Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Great leadership comes with a healthy dose of humility. Giving credit to the talented and hard-working employees who contribute to every win is paramount. Your teams come together to turn your vision into a reality, and they deserve to be recognized for their efforts. As your company grows, you also want to foster a culture of recognition. Growth is exciting, but it can also mean losing visibility on all the incredible things that are happening, so make time to shine light on achievements and encourage your teams to celebrate their wins.
No one said leading a company to greatness would be easy, but ultimately, with a workforce that trusts in your leadership, everyone is better aligned around a shared mission, common goals and the strategy that will take you there.