Leadership style plays a pivotal role in building trust within an organisation. In this article I share some thoughts on how leading by example builds trust.

The benefit of a high-trust business

So, what does a high-trust business look like? Essentially, it’s one where employees feel safe to take risks, to express themselves freely and share their opinions and ideas on processes and services.

A team that can express these things without fear to their leader is a team that is productive, innovative and aligned in growing the business.

And as Stephen M R Covey says in his book, ‘The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything’: “The process of building trust is an interesting one, but it begins with yourself, with what I call self-trust, and with your own credibility, your own trustworthiness. If you think about it, it’s hard to establish trust with others if you can’t trust yourself.”

How to build trust across your team

Not the head, but the heart of the team, you as a leader play the critical role in building trust. And it goes both ways – you need to trust your team as much as they need to trust you. So, let’s look at five ways I’ve identified you can create a trustful relationship in your team.

1 Transparency

Being transparent with your team members means sharing information openly and candidly, keeping them updated with how the business is going and not withholding anything that directly affects them. Employees don’t expect their leader to know everything, so rather than talk your way around an issue, be transparent enough to say you need more time to research the answers they need.

2 Reliability

Like trust, good relationships work if all parties can rely on one another. Follow through on your commitments, or you risk your team losing faith in you. All team members should be able to rely on their leader to be fair, and so applying the same expectations and standards to all means your response to everyone in any given situation is reliably the same – supportive.

3 Empowerment

This is one of my favourite ways to build trust because it’s done in a way that strengthens confidence in others. By giving them the power to act on their own behalf no matter how small you start, provides a shared sense of achievement toward the business goals.

4 Delegation

Different from empowerment in that you step away entirely from the delegated responsibility and put your trust wholly in that individual to act on your behalf. This in turn teaches them leadership skills of their own. Do you trust them to be effective? Can they trust their leader to be supportive and open minded?

5 Reward

A priority of leadership is to reward the team for a job well done. Your creativity in how you do this can shine through, whether it’s time allowed to watch a vital sporting fixture, team days out, kind words or a box donuts – reward is a necessity for motivation, and I’m an advocate for rewarding yourself as well as others, so don’t forget you in this one!

So, there’s really no need to fall backwards off a chair and trust someone to catch you, the thought of doing that frankly terrifies me! All it takes to build trust in your team, is to lead by example and trust them, so you can be trusted in return.

Going back to the point about trusting yourself in business…

It is a sensitive topic to address the faith you have in your own capabilities, but it is where trusting relationships begin. That’s one of the reasons I invite you to explore the Online Business Development Programme (OBD). There are 12 modules to work through in your own time, to support you in developing your business, and giving you the benefit of my knowledge and expertise. My desire is to instil confidence and trust in your ability to run an effective, valuable business so I’m happy to talk through any of the points in this article, or indeed the OBD modules. Just get in touch for a no obligation chat.

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