3 Ways to Build Trust and Gain Followership

Guest post from Tarra Mitchell:

If we want our teams to follow us willingly, they first
need to trust us. To gain trust, we have to learn to connect with people in a
meaningful way. People want to be seen and heard. They want to know that we
will be there for them if they need us.

Meaningful connection is not necessarily a natural
talent that comes easily. Connecting with others requires that we get to know individual
team members as people, not simply employees.

Here are three ways to build trust:

1)    Good Listening

Good listening involves offering our full attention to
the people speaking. Learning to do this is a practice that is even more
important—and more challenging—in our distracted, digital age.  We cannot offer our full attention to others
when we are checking our emails, responding to texts, or reading our notebooks.

The key difference between good listening—the kind
that builds trust—and distracted listening is that good listening requires us
to look the person in the eye. When we listen well, we look the person speaking
in the eye and do our very best not to turn our gaze away.

A second aspect of good listening is the continued
practice of turning your mind back to the person speaking, even as the mind tries
over and over again to think about yet another item on your to-do list.
Focusing on the color of the speaker’s eyes is a good trigger to help move your
concentration toward the person speaking and away from whatever is distracting
you at the moment.

If it feels almost impossible to keep your mind on the
person speaking, you won’t be able to build trust. If you know you have a
frenzied mind, plan a different time to talk with the person—or learn how to
center yourself. If you can learn how to center your mind before meetings, it
will go a long way toward ensuring that you are in a better mental state to
listen well and build trust. There are many methods to do this, such as
mindfulness or breathing practices.

Finally, to really listen well, you need to actually listen. This means you are not offering
solutions or interrupting, but listening to what the other person has to say
without trying to form your own response yet. Giving the individual the time to
speak while you are listening attentively will help them to feel valued and
build trust.

Allow the Team
to Co-create Guidelines

Where possible, allow the team to co-create the ways
they work together and how the work gets done. Most people do not want to be
told what to do and appreciate being part of the decision-making process. Having
a team create certain guidelines, procedures, and communication protocols is
one way to foster a cohesive team and build trust. There’s an automatic level
of buy-in and support when the marching orders are co-created.

When contemplating communication protocols, consider
the meaning of the principle of integrity or truthfulness. Trust is built when
communications are open and honest and there are no hidden agendas. Work toward
being as open as possible with your team. Embed openness into your
communication guidelines.

Allow for questioning and healthy discourse. This
creates clarity for ourselves and for our teams. A healthy level of discourse
just might result in a better way, so be flexible to adjusting guidelines as

3)    Fostering Safe and Supportive Work Environments

People want to feel safe, secure, and supported, in
life and at work. Foster an environment that builds trust by practicing being
vulnerable, which is a deep human quality that supports relationship building.
Our team needs to see our own human side, including our imperfections. When we
share our frustrations, our fears, and our failures, we in turn send a signal
to our team that we are willing to be open, so they can feel safe being open,
too. This is a great way to create a safe environment.

When we foster a strong team connection, we build
trust across the team. By communicating in ways that are uniting and not
dividing, we fortify the team. Demonstrate how every function has meaningful
importance to the productivity of the team and success of the organization.
Make the team aware of what the others on the team do and the challenges they
encounter. Be generous with compliments on work well done and share accolades
openly. Encourage team members to support one another in this way as well.

Trust and followership are built on simple practices that
we can do to connect more deeply with our teams. Implement these practices and
watch team satisfaction improve and your days become a little easier.

Tarra Mitchell, author of The Yoga of Leadership
(Fall 2017),
integrating her distinctive background in business and yoga to show how
personal wellbeing is connected to success. Her keen ability to connect with
people led to an investment career directing billion-dollar fundraising events
and developing relationships around the world. @TarraMMitchell