One of the most important parts of being an effective leader is building trust.
We have all had a boss that we did not respect. No matter how intelligent or charismatic, you knew that placing blind faith in him or her would be a mistake. You were always watching your back waiting for the sucker punch to come.
A lack of trust allows fear to become a primary motivation with your team members. They will fear your opinions. They will fear your decisions and evaluations. They will fear failure. They will fear you.
Once fear creeps in, your team members will become paralyzed.
Trust is something that has to be earned. It is something we are all told to give away slowly and to take back quickly.
Here are six ways that a leader can instill respect and trust in his team:
- Expose yourself. Open yourself to others. Not in a dangerous way where people can take advantage of you, but rather in a way that demonstrates honesty and humility. Your team needs to know that you are just like them. Be willing to admit your own failures. If you put up a wall around yourself, your team will too.
- Take the hit. When undesirable outcomes happen, we are all quick to point the finger. If your team members see that you are willing to take the blame for the good of the team, even if its not directly your fault, then they will start to let go and trust you. As leader of a team you need to accept the responsibility for both the good and the bad.
- Build your team members up. This is the opposite of taking the hit. Whenever it is appropriate make sure you praise your team members in front of their peers and superiors. Be sure to applaud their efforts and results. Never try to take sole credit for something good that the team did.
- Get rid of the leash. Allow for freedom to explore new ideas and to be creative. If people feel that you are micro-managing them, they will stop trusting you. Make room for failure and more importantly the opportunity to learn from failure.
- Accept confrontation. Fighting is not good, but neither is false agreement. When there is a difference of opinion, promote discussion. Explore solutions with the intent to solve problems. If disagreement never occurs, then your team is afraid of telling you the truth.
- Find the value in each person. We all have weaknesses, but we also have strengths. Everyone brings something different to the table. Find what is unique in each individual and use that unique strength for the good of the team.
With trust a team can work together. Individuals will accept roles. Leaders will be respected. Teams can be productive.