Leadership Article


Trust in Relationships

Although trust is essential in any relationship, we seldom give conscious thought to improving it. Trust is the underpinning that allows you and your team members to become more open. It provides opportunity to address the deeper problems without fear, thus having the safety that will promote sharing of richer solutions and innovations. I am inviting you to consider the areas within your team that can be strengthened by intentionally improving the trust between you and the other members.

Trust is defined as a feeling of certainty that a person or thing will not fail. It implies depth and assurance of feeling that is often based on inconclusive evidence. Trust is a feeling we have that translates into the behavior of granting permission without proof.

Within a work context, trust is given based upon evidence of things such as doing what you say and performing to a certain competency. Like any behavior, trust can be more fully developed. It is granted in several levels or layers especially in a work context. We are expected, as a team member, to trust our teammates. We don't easily give anything more than superficial trust without building a relationship over time or deliberately working at it.

Trust Building Behaviors
On the other hand the way to combat fear is to build trust. By starting with the basics:

  • Be clear about expectations and consequences.
  • Consequences should be commensurate with the mistake.
  • Praise in public and criticize in private.
  • Follow through on commitments.
  • Be consistent in the way you relate to team members.
  • Be aware of their reactions.
  • Address things in the moment - don't let things go unsaid when clearly there is an issue. When we allow things to ferment, we lost the easiest time to tackle it. Like the old saying goes, "crow goes down easiest warm, when it's old and stale it's harder to swallow."

As leaders, we're in charge of being strategic and inspired. Let's use our position to lead others to take calculated risks by being open to address the real problems and spark true innovation. No one really thinks a "yes man" contributes. Is your leadership style as inspired as you would like? Do you get the results you want from your direct reports? If you would like to improve your results, you need to change your behaviors.