Trust is not something that most people give freely. As a result, many professionals today lead with skepticism when entering into new business relationships. Why is that? Is it because of the nature of politics/business/media that pushes divisiveness and values power over people? Or is it because a professional relationship in our past has proven to be untrustworthy?
Either way, trust needs to be earned.
For those of you who would argue that trust isn’t necessary, take a look at any of the stories coming out of the latest Olympic games. Every combination of team members, coaches, and players will tell you that their success results from trusting relationships that helped them grow and be at their very best.
Machiavellian leadership is out. Leading with authenticity and EQ is in!
It’s also important to note that trust doesn’t work like a light switch. It’s not easy to turn off/on or up/down. It takes time to move the needle of trust up in a relationship but no time at all to drop it down.
Let’s take a look at four specific things you can do today (in 10 minutes or less) to build trust with your team members.
- Ask, then Listen
- Be Available & Be of Service
- Celebrate the Success of Others
- Give Credit and Attribution
Ask, then Listen
How often do you ask a question, then rush to assume an answer while the person you are working with is still talking? We all do this at times. It’s tough to slow down enough to listen without formulating a response.
Practice this. Ask a team member, “What’s the most important thing you are working on today?” or “What part of your job do you love/hate?” Instead of formulating solutions or contributions, listen. Ask curious, open-ended questions. Thank the person for sharing. Then, check-in later to find out how it’s going. This simple but essential tool sets the stage for deeper, more meaningful conversations and insights. It also helps your team member to see you as someone they can trust to listen when they need it. Listen to understand, not to reply.
Be Available & Be of Service
What if you spent the same 10 minutes of every day serving others? If you are back at the office, it might mean that you refill your team members’ coffee, offer to help solve a problem, or simply take out the trash. It could also look like being an available sounding board or someone who can reframe a difficulty. Pay attention to how you can go above and beyond vs getting caught up in the day-to-day.
If you are virtual, it may mean that you send an email of appreciation for no significant reason, you call a coworker to check in. Reaching out sends the message that they are top-of-mind and matter. When people feel relied upon, they remain open and engaged.
Would these things make a difference in how your team members relate to and trust you?
Celebrate the Success of Others
Have you ever heard of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon? When you experience, see, or hear something, it seems to trigger a series of similar experiences, sightings, or sounds. It’s like this. One day you see a yellow car that catches your eye. Then, for the next few weeks, you seem to see yellow cars everywhere you go.
I believe that celebrating the success of others works like this. When we take time to recognize and celebrate the success of others, our eyes are opened to the many, many other ways that our team members are winning every day. And, the appreciation spreads to others. When we feel good, we do good and see other’s accomplishments in a positive light.
Don’t just focus on the big wins. Take time and be intentional about celebrating the small ones too.
Give Credit and Attribution
Some people trust easily. For others, it takes longer.
One of the fastest ways to halt that earning-of-trust process is to take undue credit for someone else’s accomplishments. We’ve all seen this happen. A team member is praised for a victory that they aren’t responsible for and doesn’t correct the other person. The loudest team member gets credit for the work of a quieter team member who offered the idea initially.
As a leader, it is so vital that you give credit and attribution as often as possible. If you share an idea that you got from someone else, name them. If you present a report that others helped to produce, name them. Even when the person you are giving credit to isn’t in the room, do it anyway. Good leaders lift others up!
Pay Attention & Be Intentional
Building trust can be complicated and time-consuming. Look for opportunities to apply these four actions — which can consistently build trust and are solid reminders of our responsibility in leadership. Everyone is watching and looking for what great leadership looks like in action.
I challenge you to spend the next month giving it a try. Adopt one or more of these practices. Without any big announcement that you are trying something new, I want you to be intentional about how you listen, serve others, celebrate, and give credit to others. Perhaps you might even keep a journal and note what you did each day and the impact it made for your team members and the greater team.
Pay attention to those you are honoring in this way. Notice how the relationship shifts and how you continue to earn the trust of the people around you each day.