Sunday, April 6, 2008

Seven Ways to Build Trust as a Leader

Great advice on building trust as a leader, by the remarkable Keven Eikenberry:

There are many reasons why trust is important to us as leaders. With higher levels of trust we are able to influence change more easily and quickly. With more trust we are able to create higher levels of productivity and team cohesiveness. I could go on, but in short, being trustworthy and trusted are two of the most valuable attributes remarkable leaders possess.

Here are seven actions you need to “get” in order to earn higher and higher levels of trust.

Get feedback. While you surely have some idea of how much those around you trust you, still start by getting some feedback. Take the time to learn more about how much people trust you and where your trust is weakest. Perhaps people trust what you say, but not your motives. Perhaps they trust your experience, but you aren’t reliable. Perhaps there is one incident that has had a negative impact on your credibility. Or perhaps the feedback will tell you people DO trust you. Whatever you hear will help you build your trustworthiness even higher.

Get clear that you are responsible. Make no mistake – you own this issue. I know trust is a perception, and how people perceive you isn’t completely in your control. But if the feedback you receive says there is room for improvement, decide that you are going to improve and get started. Justifications, rationalizations and blame won’t change how much you are trusted, only your behavior will.

Get over yourself. If you want to be more trusted, you need to be more focused on the needs of others. Working on your agenda and your issues won’t build trust. Working on the issues and challenges others have will. When you get over yourself you can begin to build trust more rapidly.

Get it done (on time). When you tell people you will do something, you need to do it. If you notice that you often tend to promise things sooner than you are able to deliver, recognize that this habit could be drastically affecting how much others trust you. Do what you say and get it done on time. This is a basic building block of trust. Make sure this block is strong.

Get them help. As a leader in particular, people recognize that you might have expertise, resources, budget or other ways to help them. So help them already! If your team is struggling under the weight of a major project, get them some assistance, or roll up your sleeves and help yourself.

Get consistent. In words and in actions, be consistent. One of the reasons people trust others is because they know what to expect – they know that people are consistent. As a leader this is definitely true. One of the best ways to be consistent is to operate from your values and principles. When we do this we are more consistent – they anchor our words and deeds. When we share these values and principles with others, we help them see that consistent anchor.

Get to trusting them (first). One of the most valuable things you can do to create higher levels of trust is to trust others more. Don’t wait for them to prove themselves to you. Trust them. Think about it – are you more willing to trust people who you know trust you? Of course you are! Become more trusting and you will begin to build your trustworthiness almost immediately.

There you have it – seven things you can begin to do immediately to create higher levels of trust. There are many other things you can do but this is a great start.

Potential Principle – One of the most valuable things we can do to lead more effectively is to build ever higher levels of trust.

Copyright © 2007 - All Rights Reserved, Kevin Eikenberry and The Kevin Eikenberry Group.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. To receive your free special report on Unleashing Your Potential go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/uypw/index.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.

2 comments:

Icheb said...

If you ask for feedback, how do you prevent the implicit statement of "I'm feeling insecure"?

Dan McCarthy said...

icheb,
Many of the most successful leaders have the self-confidence to ask for feedback and always be looking for ways to improve.