A team leader who strengthens the level of trust with his or her team is one who is skillful and effective. I think it is also true that a team leader who lacks trust with team members will have a difficult time, if not an impossible one, improving and expanding a trustful environment.
It’s not critical that team members like their leader, but they have to trust him or her. If not, she won’t be able to lead them and as a result members' motivation will wane and fall.
There is an old axiom that truth and trust go together. You could be honest for years, but one lie can destroy the trust you have built during all those years and no doubt that regaining that trust is very difficult. I liken it to breaking a glass window. A glass window works beautifully as long as it isn’t shattered. When it is shattered it is extremely difficult to patch up and most often needs to be replaced. So too, when a team leader loses the trust of his team he often needs to be replaced.
Team leaders have to be honest. Don’t say “I don’t know” when you do know. Be straight and say exactly what is on your mind. Of course you want to do that in a respectful way. When you say, ‘No” mean it. Again say it respectfully. There are certain times in the workplace when a ‘no’ is the appropriate response. The leader may not be popular during those time, but in the long run his truthful response is better than if he tried to fudge an answer or to lie about it.
In line with truth and trust is the willingness to accept criticism from both team members and colleagues. Sometimes it’s hard to accept comments – especially negative ones – but in order to lead effectively you will have to accept both negative as well as positive feedback. The key here is to listen to other ideas and suggestions without being defensive. In this way you encourage open discussion and engagement. Non-defensive listening doesn’t mean non-decision. Decisions need to made based on facts and these often come from critical criticism.
Show, as in demonstrate, is one of the hallmarks for trust. Saying “I trust you,” is important but not enough. Demonstrate trust by clarifying roles and responsibilities, communicating clearly and providing training, information and doing what you say you will do.
Another demonstration of building trust is recognizing a ‘job well done.’ Don’t be afraid to show appreciation when someone works hard and finishes an assignment successfully. Communicate your praise directly but don’t mix the praise with a negative ‘but’ – keep it simple and honest – and keep the negative comments for a private setting.
Building trust in the workplace is quite simple: Be truthful, say what you mean respectfully, be integral with what you say and what you do and be an example for others through consistent action. Building trust is all about carrying out the values of honesty and truthfulness and reflecting in your behaviour what you expect others to do. If you don’t do this expect trust to disappear and cynicism and negativism to grow in your workplace.
Thank you for reading,
Richard P. Fontanie.