What’s the Key to Building Trust With Your Team?
To provide insights on establishing and maintaining trust as a leader, we asked nine professionals, including CEOs and Founders, to share their best tips. From prioritizing open communication and transparency to holding vulnerability sessions to learn and evolve, these leaders offer a wealth of knowledge on this crucial aspect of leadership.
- Prioritize Open Communication and Transparency
- Admit and Take Responsibility for Failures
- Uphold Commitments Consistently
- Share Personal Stories and Fulfill Promises
- Communicate Decision-Making Process Openly
- Support Team Members in Tough Times
- Be Visible, Present, and Genuine
- Lead Your Team With Authenticity
- Hold Vulnerability Sessions to Learn and Evolve
Prioritize Open Communication and Transparency
Establishing and maintaining trust with my clients and my team has been crucial to my law firm’s success. Trust is the foundation of any successful business relationship, particularly in the legal industry where our clients trust us to represent their best interests.
One way I establish trust is through open and regular communication. I make it a priority to keep my clients informed about the progress of their cases and any other developments that may arise. This ensures that our clients never feel left in the dark and can trust us to handle their affairs with the utmost care and attention.
Another key way I maintain trust with my employees is through transparency and honesty. I always give them realistic expectations and never expect outcomes I know they cannot deliver.
I also make an effort to actively listen and truly hear and understand their needs and concerns. This way, I can adjust my leadership approach to best meet the needs of my team.
John Mahoney, Law Firm Founder, The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC
Admit and Take Responsibility for Failures
The best and most important way to build and maintain trust as a leader is through taking responsibility for your failures. I used to think that admitting my faults or mistakes would bring attention to my weaknesses. If I didn’t shine a spotlight on my failures, maybe everyone would think I was perfect.
Of course, it doesn’t work like that. The truth is, no one’s perfect, and trying to maintain that facade only makes you less likable.
When I mess up—and it happens—I’m now quick to take responsibility. I don’t play the blame game or make excuses for my actions.
I’ve found that people are more receptive to a leader who’s able to step up and fix any issues they’ve created. Everyone prefers to look up to a real and relatable human.
Uphold Commitments Consistently
One valuable tip I’ve learned is to consistently uphold my commitments. In our team, we usually emphasize the importance of delivering on promises and meeting expectations. Personally, as someone who has dealt with various leadership challenges, I find that reliability forms the foundation of trust.
I’ve seen how keeping my word and fulfilling obligations consistently has strengthened the trust my team has in my leadership. This approach, based on my expertise and knowledge, has proven effective in fostering confidence and cooperation among team members.
Jay Soni, Managing Director, Yorkshire Fabric Shop
Share Personal Stories and Fulfill Promises
Establishing trust is the hardest thing to do when you enter into a leadership position. You’re the unknown, unproven. You’ve stepped into a role that someone else, maybe someone who was valued or loved by those you’re going to lead, once held, and now you’ve got big shoes to fill.
My suggestion for establishing trust is to share something personal about yourself. Let this be about a failure you’ve experienced and how you recovered from it, or it could be about how you struggled to rise out of poverty.
As for maintaining trust, this is simple. It’s the reason many people don’t do it or get it. To maintain trust, do what you say you’re going to do. If you’re honest, open, and sincere when you’re leading others, trust is a given.
Communicate Decision-Making Process Openly
Trust is built not just on promises kept, but on the transparency of intentions and actions. My biggest tip is to openly communicate your decision-making process, especially when it involves tough choices.
When the team understands the ‘why’ behind your decisions, even if they don’t always agree, they can trust that you’re leading them with integrity and consideration for their good and the business’s success.
Support Team Members in Tough Times
One key tip I’ve found incredibly effective is supporting your team members, especially when they make mistakes. It’s easy to be there when things are going well, but real trust is built when your team knows you have their back, even in tough times.
By showing understanding and offering guidance instead of blame, you create an environment where your team feels safe to take risks and learn from failures.
This builds trust and encourages innovation and growth within your team. Remember that a supportive leader paves the way for a resilient and trusting team.
Be Visible, Present, and Genuine
In my opinion, the best leaders are those who are visible, present, and genuine. They consistently show up, are approachable, actively engage with the team, and demonstrate a genuine concern for everyone’s well-being.
This embodies the idea of being an authentic leader, which is an emerging leadership style that resonates with many people because it emphasizes honesty, integrity, and communication. People need to see and hear from their leaders to develop confidence in their abilities and intentions.
Your team will see your commitment to their success and have confidence that you’re leading with their best interests in mind. Trust is earned as a consequence.
Lead Your Team With Authenticity
Establishing and maintaining trust as a leader hinges on being one’s true self. It took me a while to realize this, and I’m embarrassed to admit it. I think I had read so many books about successful entrepreneurs that I’d developed an archetype of the role.
In some ways, it was a false vision, polished by ghostwriters and savvy media coaches. I can also admit it was a little stereotypical: a strong, even slightly aggressive, male.
But I’m a personable and friendly guy: not exactly the strong silent type. I can actually be quite chatty—a trait that drew people to me once I loosened up and let my real self shine through.
There is no one way to be a trustworthy leader, but they do have one thing in common: genuineness. People can tell when you’re not being yourself, and it turns them off.
Hold Vulnerability Sessions to Learn and Evolve
I’ve come to understand the deep value of trust. One specific approach I’ve taken is holding “Vulnerability Sessions” with my team. I recall an instance when I shared a story about an oversight I made early in my career, which resulted in a damaged shipment.
Admitting my mistakes openly and discussing how I’ve grown from them creates an environment where everyone feels comfortable learning and evolving. This has fostered trust and strengthened our bond as a team, ensuring we deliver the best to our clients.
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