Learning how to inspire trust is a fundamental aspect of leadership development, the importance of which can’t be overstated.
Without learning to inspire trust, a leader will never get to hear the truth about what’s going on in their department or organization, which is a serious detriment to effective leadership.
With that in mind, how can new leaders build the kind of trusting relationships that they need to be successful?
Listen to and Learn from All Employees
One of the biggest mistakes that new leaders make is one that is incredibly simple to avoid: failing to recognize that every employee may have useful information to offer. A new leader will typically meet with those employees who report directly to them, but few make a point of meeting all the employees in their department. To those employees, you become just one more in the crowd of management faces.
How are you going to inspire trust in people who don’t differentiate you from any other company leader? The simple answer is that you can’t, and that’s why it is important to meet with every employee who reports to you, whether directly or indirectly.
This strategy can provide you with plenty of useful information if you apply a few well-placed questions. Ask your employees about what they see as the department’s biggest advantages and faults, and ask them about the things they’d most like to change.
The answers are always enlightening.
Communicate Your Values and Vision
Part of leadership training involves the development of your own personal set of values and behaving in ways that communicate those values to others. This aspect is crucial, because it gives you a foundation that allows you to behave consistently, and consistency of behaviour is key when it comes to inspiring trust.
A necessary related step is developing a vision and strategy in terms of your plans for the department or organization, and then sharing that vision with your employees. Sharing your vision can inspire trust because, in sharing, you demonstrate your trust in the people who are working for you and who are responsible for helping you achieve that vision.
When each employee understands how their work contributes to the overall goal, they’re more engaged and more motivated. When you place your trust in them, they’re motivated to show you that they’re deserving of that trust.
Follow Words with Actions
Some leaders are good at talking about their values and vision, but fail to follow up with actions that back up their words. Failing to follow through on commitments is the surest road to inspiring mistrust, so it’s important for a new leader to keep this in mind from the outset, no matter how tempting it is to make promises in order to placate unhappy employees or clients.
No matter who you are dealing with, whether employee, client, or customer, resolving to make commitments only when you know you can follow through is the best policy.
Honesty Above All
Beginning to inspire trust takes time, and that’s one reason why consistency of action is so important. When you behave consistently and with integrity in the long term, you motivate both trust and respect.
An important part of behaving with integrity is being consistently open and honest in your communications and relationships. Employees can tell when a leader is hedging or hiding information, and a leadership style in which a lack of honesty or transparency are constant factors is not one that inspires confidence or trust.
How Can Leaders Inspire Trust?
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