People follow leaders they trust. How do you build trust?

In my discussions with clients, we spend a lot of time talking about the difference between leadership and management.  One of the key differences is that, managers control what people do while leaders empower people to do go out and do things.  This often leads into a long discussion about how to empower others.  One of the big things that enable people to feel empowered is that they trust the person empowering them.

A person who trusts you is more likely to take that extra step to meet your expectations and to succeed.  Trust is personal and has to be done individually.  So here are 5 small things to try that are easy to do and take little or no time; yet they are great aids in building personal trust.

1. Smile more.  A smile is one of the few things that takes less energy to produce than it generates.  While you can smile at someone with little effort, the effect can be enormous.  In addition to making a person feel liked, a smile has the effect of making you seem approachable and wiling to help.  Your co-workers and staff can feel comfortable approaching you with questions, comments, or advice.

2. Be positive.  Be conscious about your words and actions so that you can be a positive force, rather than just adding to the problem. Your energy will offer insights to any discussion and invite others to see things from your perspective.  Being the agent of positive change for those around you is a responsibility, so act wisely. It takes real determination and commitment to your own values to be a great leader.

3. Give genuine compliments.  Everyone knows that people like to get positive feedback, but this is not what I am talking about.  This is not feedback you give about someone’s overall performance; their role or their achievements.  I am talking about giving small, genuine compliments in the spur of the moment.  Some examples:
- someone is wearing a new outfit that suits them;
- they are in a great mood;
- they just said something smart.

When you notice it, say something in once quick comment and move on – don't dwell on it.  It is supposed to be natural and comfortable for both of you.  Compliments generate trust and over time allow others to open up to you.

4. Do things together.  Little things matter, like grabbing a coffee or lunch with coworkers.  Smaller groups encourage sharing and empower the shyer ones to speak up.  It also builds up the power of the team.

5. Teach.  Education is powerful and necessary, but not left to just certified teachers. The most prolific and impactful teachers are often family or friends and often evolve from casual situations.  Keep it small and use it as a small nudge in the right direction.  Doing this shows that you are interested in their personal development not just the project results.

None of these things individually will change a relationship but over time they will make it stronger.

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