How to Build Trust in 5 Simple Ways

How to Build Trust in 5 Simple Ways

Listen to this article

They don't have to trust me...

Let's start with the big question, the question that has launched a thousand books and thousands or articles - what is leadership? What type of leadership is needed to build trust? Is it service, influence, vision, relationship? Probably a smidge of all of the above and more. With so many definitions of leadership floating around, it's easy to be confused as to what it means to lead.

One article identified over 2300 articles on leadership with a staggering 1000+ potential definitions. What's really interesting is that most of these leadership definitions don't include trust. So what role does trust play in leadership? Above all leadership is a relationship and good relationships are always built on trust. It's safe to say that leadership is more easily recognized than defined. You have experienced great leadership.

If you want to read more about leadership, check out these posts: Leadership vs. Management and How To De-escalate a Situation.

build trust by connecting with your team

You remember the bosses you connected with, the leaders that believed in you and inspired you, the bosses you trusted. You absolutely remember the other ones too. But can you tell what made the great ones great? Why would you walk over hot coals for one boss but not another?

One answer is that you trusted the boss you connected with. When you trust someone you give them the benefit of the doubt. You will follow them even when you can't quite make out where they are going because you trust they know where they are going.

Trust is created over time and by experience. People won't trust you immediately, you have to earn their trust. Yet, trust is essential for leadership. In the absence of trust, leadership is difficult at best. The more you trust people, the easier it is to lead them. The more trust you have in them, the easier it is to lead them.

Trust is one of the hardest things to create , yet one of the easiest things to destroy.
If you want to be a successful leader, you must have trust in your people, and they must have trust in you.

Additionally, trust is a two-way street. If you want your people to trust you, you have to be trustworthy. You have to be consistent in everything you do, say, and promise.

The real test of leadership comes when it's time to make decisions. Leaders have to make tough calls that involve risk. If your people don't trust you, they won't follow you. Why? Because they don't trust you to make the right call. They don't trust you to make the call that's best for the team .

Let's look at 5 ways you can build trust in your leadership.

1. Trust Others

Who likes a micromanager? Who likes to be controlled? Do you do your best work under these circumstances? Probably not. Trust is a two-way street, if you want to be trusted you must be trusting. By trusting your associates to get their work done with minimal direction, you are validating their competence and creating an environment that can help you build trust.

In this way, you are modeling what you are trying to manifest. Assume your people can do their jobs. Assign the task, then back off. Let them wrestle with the details and ask for help. Expect the best and you will get it.

When you allow them the freedom to do their best work, they will reciprocate by delivering on promises and exceeding expectations. Believe in your people. Encourage them. Trust them.

2. Be Patient

As a leader, manager or supervisor it's difficult when someone on your team lets you down. But it is not the end of the world. Mistakes happen, even big mistakes. The best education may come on the other side of failure.

How you handle the failures will determine if your people can or will trust you. Deal with the person and the mistake separately. The person needs reassurance and guidance and to identify the lesson they just learned. The mistake needs fixing. See the difference. Outstanding leaders 

Remember, the person is more important than the mistake. Here's where the golden rule comes into play. How would you want to be treated after an embarrassing public mistake? How would you respond to the leader who dealt with you patiently or harshly? Be Patient.

3. Be Consistent

Consistency is critical to your success in anything and especially leading people. Be the same person you were yesterday today. Your people are watching you every day. They are observing your walk to see if it matches your talk.

The most important thing you can do to build trust is to be authentic. Be yourself, and don't try to be someone you're not. If you're genuine and honest, people will start to trust you more and more.

If you are a “do as I say, not as I do” leader you are shooting yourself in the foot. When you lead consistently it makes you predictable in a good way. That predictability makes it easier for your team to follow you. It is impossible to build trust with and follow someone who's position changes with the prevailing political winds. Be consistent.

4. Be Ethical

Ethics has to do with your moral compass. Are you going to do what is right or what is expedient? Are you a save-your-own-neck sort of leader or are you a captain-goes-down-with-the-ship type of leader? Functioning ethically means you don't take short cuts, take credit for the work of others, cut corners, or pass the buck.

It's important to have an ethical mindset when you're leading a team. If you want your team to be successful, you need to set the example. That means behaving ethically and setting the right example for your team members.

Being ethical also demands you tell the truth even when it doesn't paint you in the best light. Ethics are at the heart of trust. Followers will trust an ethical leader because they know they will be consistently honest.

5. Be Available

Leadership involves real people. In order to influence, persuade or inspire someone you have to be in the trenches with them. Politicians go out of their way to tell their stories so that they connect with voters. You may be down the hall from your associates but are you with them?

Do you know what is happening in their lives, with their families, outside of work? Do you care? You should. When your team knows you care about them personally they will follow you anywhere. When they don't believe you care, they will find ways to drag their feet on the simplest of requests. Be available.

This isn't about being a nanny or a drill sergeant. It's about making sure that you are available to your team when they need you, and that you take the time to know them on a personal level. When they know that you care about them, they will be more likely to follow your lead and do their best work.

These are 5 ways to build trust, what other ways work for you? Drop a comment below and let's talk leadership.

Until next time,

Make today count!

About the author 

Dr. David Arrington

David a husband, father and the principal of Arrington Coaching. He and his team work with leaders, teams, organizations, and entrepreneurs. He regularly speaks and writes on leadership development, team alignment, and peak performance.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Tired of working 60+ hour weeks? 

We created a Free Training Just for You.