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Leadership Strategy: Trust

Leaders are most often characterized by the quality of trust they inspire in their followers; therefore, be aware that if that trust is shattered, the group's productivity may suffer. When followers trust their leader, they open themselves up to being influenced by that leader. On the other hand, if people believe that you are dishonest or would take advantage of them, they will not follow you.

The following are nine ways leaders can be trustworthy in all aspects:

  1. Acknowledge the effort required to create trust. Earning someone else's trust takes time. To earn it, one must make an active decision to act in a way that reflects one's stated goals and core values. It is important to put in the time and energy to build trust because it is often extremely challenging to regain.

  2. Ask for opinions and implement suggestions. There are several ways to get feedback from your team, from conducting company-wide surveys to asking, "What is on your mind?" or "What could we be doing better?" Maintain an attitude favoring action while listening. Respond to your team to show that you have heard them and explain why you are taking or not taking a particular course of action.

  3. Be an example of the actions you wish to see. The leader's actions speak volumes about the company's culture and can significantly impact the way team members behave and the outcomes they produce. Prove teamwork's value by working with people outside your usual group or job description. Recognize excellent performance, and you will pave the way for a culture of gratitude.

  4. Give credit where credit is due. It is important to give credit to the whole team. Thanking colleagues for a job well done or nominating them for an award can go a long way toward building morale and loyalty in the workplace. The foundation of any healthy relationship is mutual respect and trust, which may be fostered by positively reinforcing the actions you want to see more of.

  5. Incorporate Responsibility. Team members are more likely to follow your lead if you and other leaders are transparent about your failures and triumphs. Building in practices that become parts of the culture, such as an evaluation of every project (pros, cons, things to change) or a status report and future actions in each meeting agenda, can encourage honest discourse and foster accountability (tracking deadlines and milestones).

  6. Maintain an open and encouraging demeanor. Never sugarcoat the facts simply because you think it will make you look better. Take into account the peoples' time and sentiments when you learn what they need to know and relay the information. Keeping up morale by being encouraging and forgiving when team members make errors. It helps establish your credibility as a leader and is much appreciated.

  7. Provide uniformity in your approach. Doing what you say you will do regularly is the surest way to earn someone's trust. All of your relationships, no matter how long or short, require you to make and keep promises.

  8. Remain open and honest. Honesty, cooperation, and regard are all ushered in when people feel they can be open with one another. It can potentially reduce the level of suspicion and mystery in the workplace, which often creates mistrust. Honest leaders prioritize keeping their teams updated on a consistent and frequent basis, and the most effective updates are timely, relevant, and laser-focused on what workers need to know and why. To be open and honest, you do not have to always have every question answered. Honest leaders are not scared to admit ignorance and promise to get back to their followers with information.

  9. Show compassion towards other people. Leaders taking a step back to consider their members' feelings earn widespread respect. Give your staff members the impression that they are heard by validating their experiences. The result is an individual who feels appreciated, and you have insight that may be used to better motivate them.

A leader will identify issues and attempt to address them, but the level of confidence his followers have in him will determine whether or not he is successful in regaining the insight and information necessary to do so. Therefore, trust is the foundation upon which all positive behavior is built.

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