There is no “one size fits all” leader or leadership style. But there are characteristics or qualities that all great leaders have in common. Last session, I shared about how effective leaders are trustworthy. Today, I discuss how to earn or build trust with our teams.
Leadership Training Session Video
Over the last few sessions, we’ve talked about ingredients that make up great leaders. Last session, we discussed trust as an essential aspect of leadership and the development of trust accounts with those in our sphere of influence. Today, I want to chat about how to build or grow our trust accounts.
How do you build trust? First, you must care. You can’t build trust with someone if you don’t have compassion for that person. You might be able to fake it for a little while, but eventually it will catch up to you. That’s why we started this series talking about compassion.
Assume the Best
You have to assume the best of people. I am disheartened by how often I immediately think the negative or worst of other people in my leadership and relationships. I assume they have poor intentions instead of seeking to clarify their motives. When I was the director of a summer camp, we encouraged our counselors to spend their free time investing in their campers instead of just chatting amongst themselves. One day, a member of our leadership team walked out of our office and saw a group of counselors huddled together talking. That leader immediately confronted the group, admonishing them for their behavior. When the leader finished, they noticed that one of the counselors was crying. This counselor had just come from a conversation with one of their campers about difficulties in their home life that broke the counselor’s heart, and the rest of the counselors were trying to console them. The leader felt terrible about confronting the group after they found out. They assumed the worst, when the reality of the situation was much different. What that leader should have done was assume the counselors had just begun to talk and wait a few moments, then approach the counselors with gentleness. That would have been assuming the best as a leader.
Be a Cheerleader, Not a Critic
Leaders should be cheerleaders, not critics. There are too many critics in this world and far too few cheerleaders, especially on social media (you know who I’m talking about; we call them “trolls”). Critics consistently tell you why something won’t work or why you can’t do something. I believe in being realistic and having honest conversations with people, but I also believe in affirming people’s strengths and encouraging their passions. If you want to have effective influence, be more of a cheerleader and less of a critic.
Trustworthy people are dependable. They can be counted on; their word is their bond. If they say they’re going to do something, they’ll do it. If you want to lose trust quickly, set poor expectations and never meet them. As a leader, it is better to under-promise and over-deliver.
Finally, have integrity. People with integrity tell the truth. They don’t manipulate it or cover it. They admit to mistakes and don’t play the victim card when they really are not. People with integrity don’t gossip; if they have an issue, they go straight to the source. They stand by their convictions and are not easily swayed when they believe something to be right or see an injustice. A great leader is strong in their convictions and isn’t a hypocrite; what you see is what you get. I saved this aspect for last because integrity is the glue that holds the rest of the trust account together. If you don’t have integrity, then all of your other efforts to build trust will yield very little return.
- Review your influence list
- Focus on the people you marked as having a low balance in your trust account. Ask yourself which of this session’s trust-building areas you need to do a better job in: compassion, assuming the best, being more encouraging that critiquing, being more reliable, or having integrity?