6 Ways Leaders Can Build Trust

This is a guest post by Dr. Jeremy Statton. He is an orthopaedic surgeon, blogger, and recovering legalist. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter and Facebook. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

One of the most important parts of being an effective leader is building trust.

A Climber Reaching Out to Help His Partner - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DOUGBERRY, Image #10526083

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DOUGBERRY

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

How do you build trust with your team? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Psalm79

    It may be easy to tell some how to do but then do we display what we say?

    • http://jeremysconfessions.com Jeremy Statton

      Saying is much easier than doing, but failure in the doing does nit make the saying less true. Find a weakness. Describe the need for change. Set goals. And then, when you fall down, learn and change the goal to make it better.

  • http://dustinstout.com Dustin W. Stout

    Great post Michael! Thank you!

  • Lucy

    Does anyone have any advice for people who work under a leader that they don’t trust?  The new leader of my team has no respect for me and my colleagues – to the point where we are all considering quitting. This guy seems to do the opposite of what a leader should do. My boss keeps saying that this new guy is a “production guy and he’s here to get results” but I don’t see he’s going to get any production when his team is not behind him.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am working on a blog post about this now. Thanks.

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        Michael, how far in advance do you write for your blog? Do you have a lot
        of different posts in draft form at any given time?

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I usually have dozens of ideas at any given time and several posts in various stages of being outlined. However, I usually don’t finish my posts until the night before.

          • bethanyplanton

            I love the fact that your posts reference things that are currently happening. 

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    #2 can be very encouraging and inspiring to your team members. It shows you don’t think of yourself as above anyone else.

    • http://jeremysconfessions.com Jeremy Statton

      I think this is important to build real trust.

  • Anonymous

    As always, fantastic advice. I work so much harder when someone puts their full trust in me to get the job done right the first time. If I’m micromanaged, I start to wonder why I’ve been asked to do the job and it’s insulting. If you make your team feel like they can do anything, they will bust their rears for you. Belittle them and they’ll  stop trying. 

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    One of the things I say is; encourage diversity in your team. People are bound to do things differently from you. If you do a good job explaining the desired outcomes and use the parenting rule, ‘It’s what they see you doing, not just what you say’, then it’s easier to accept the variety of interpretations of your direction that will be delivered. 

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      Good thoughts. “Do as I say not as I do” has always been a weak foundation for leadership. Even children can see through it.

  • http://darensirbough.tumblr.com Daren Sirbough

    As one of the leaders of the music team at my church I am always trying new ways to build trust up. I love the heart of this post because it really is the truth. I’ve found when I’ve opened up about my weaknesses and championed other people, it has given me grounds to speak into someones life significantly.

    • http://jeremysconfessions.com Jeremy Statton

      Sometimes saying that you struggle with something is important for someone else to hear. They may be struggling with the same thing, but too afraid to talk about it.

      • http://darensirbough.tumblr.com Daren Sirbough

        I totally agree with that comment.

  • Momarian

    So much of this can be translated to family. 

    Expose yourself as age limits allow.

    Take the hit – apologize, your kids need to learn it from

    Build them up – more praise than criticize.

    Get rid of the leash – Don’t do for them what they can do
    for themselves.

    Accept confrontation – they will not always be 2 or

    Find value in each – Accept their differences and help them
    grow their strengths.

    • http://jeremysconfessions.com Jeremy Statton

      I agree with you about applying it to our families as well. It’s easy to think it is different for our kids, but we need to build trust with them as much, or more, as anybody.

    • bethanyplanton

      I completely agree these principles are good to follow for just about any type of relationship one is in. 

  • jordan walter

    Leadership comes from having the moral high ground. Period. If people do not except your vision of the moral high ground, no amount of charisma or strategy will save you. The leader is doomed if the *MESSAGE* is doomed. Here’s some hints for gaining Trust:* Embrace Diversity & Acceptance (including OPEN support for GAY MARRIAGE)* Embrace Humanism (prioritize values of CHARITY, HUMILITY, and GRACE, in that order)* Make it clear that HATE is EVIL by FORBIDDING IT

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Loved the information presented here.  One I would add to this list is this:  Display integrity.  I believe that making the tough choices, and the right choices, all the time can build up a lot of trust.  Granted, I fail at this occasionally, just like anyone else.  But when I’m consistently seen as being above reproach, that builds trust in my leadership.

    Thanks for a great post!

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  • http://twitter.com/ChrissieSlash Chrissie Noncedo Sam

    Find the value in each person. it stands out for me

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  • diana uribe

    How do you lead a divided team where one of the subgroups works to undermine and labors to garner more members to their side?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      If I were the leader, I would confront it head-on. Lose ’em now or lose ’em later.