Trust is the foundation of every relationship. It will make or break a marriage, a friendship, and a company. The single most important opportunity for every leader is to build trust, because from there, all great things happen: teams ignite, talent explodes, and corporate performance skyrockets!
Having a theory that the human brain can focus only on three things at a time, here are three powerful trust builders:
- Purpose: Every employee wants to know why what they do is important and meaningful. Leadership builds trust by communicating and reinforcing corporate, team, and individual purpose not just through a corporate vision statement neatly framed and displayed on the employee bulletin board, but through dialogue, coaching, performance feedback, decision- making and planning.
- Consistency: Leaders who are inconsistent breed confusion and uncertainty. We build trust by being who we say we are, and doing what we said we would do. We live the values that drive the purpose of the organization. It doesn’t mean we treat everyone the same. It does mean that we are consistent in listening and responding in helpful ways.
- Connect: Policies and systems will never build trust. They provide structure. Leaders build trust when they truly connect with an employee. This is accomplished by asking questions, listening to employees, and helping employees to succeed. There will always be a level of vulnerability in building trust, so leaders need to be open and willing to share their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their hopes and fears with employees.
Ultimately, trust is about reliance and confidence in something good. When leaders achieve that, they spread hope, unleash talent, and fully engage employees. It all starts with a solid foundation!