Without trust there is no leadership.
Seems rather simple, doesn’t it?
In reality, however, it is not.
Very few managers are leaders. The difference between the two? Manager is someone who has people reporting to him. A leader is someone who people will follow, even if they don’t report to him. What separates the two is trust and respect of his people.
When the leader establishes trust within the team, it truly shows. Team members feel secure in sharing their opinions without the fear of judgment or retribution, freely share the information and openly collaborate on projects, know that if the leader pushes them, he does so with their best interests in mind. The result? Highly motivated and productive workforce.
A leader is only as affective as his team. But building trust takes time and conscious effort. People don’t trust words, they trust actions.
Here are the behaviors one needs to display to earn trust of his/her team every single day:
Lead by example
Leaders who don’t walk the talk lose trust. If you want your team members to display certain behaviors, you need to display them first. You cannot ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. For example, if you expect your team to work late, do so as well. Showing your team that you are one of them and their equal in being responsible for outcomes will go a long way in building trust.
Transparency builds trust. Secrets destroy it.
True leaders are direct and honest. And they communicate all the time. Lack of information creates assumptions that are usually negative or disruptive to team’s motivation and productivity. Err on the side of overcommunicating, always.
People can smell you hiding something a mile away. If there is some information you can’t share with the team just yet, tell them what you can and show them you got their backs. This is especially critical in the times of reorganization or layoffs. Always follow the rule: “tell the truth, point to hope.”
Admit your mistakes and acknowledge your limitations
Publicly own up to your mistakes when you make them. Admitting you were wrong isn’t a sign of weakness, but strength. Acknowledge the mistakes and outline the new course.
No one knows everything. We all have our limitations. Build a team around you that complements you – and each other – in knowledge, skillsets, and capabilities. Don’t try to do everything. Let your team members drive certain projects and outcomes. That will make them feel valued and will make you look good. But always have their back when something doesn’t go according to plan.
Keep your promises and stick to your commitments
No one trusts those who don’t keep their word. So keep your promises and, if you make a commitment, stick to it.
Every now and then, however, there are circumstances outside your control that might come into play. In those cases your team will understand, as long as you display this behavior consistently in times when this doesn’t apply.
Trust your team
Hire the best and trust them to lead. Trust is a two-way street. If you don’t trust your team, they won’t trust you.
And always remember: take the blame, but give away the credit. Acknowledge people for their contributions. The more credit your give away, the more motivated your team will be to move mountains for you. And when something goes wrong, acknowledge the fact that the mistake was made under your leadership and don’t throw your team under the bus.
Ask for feedback
No one is perfect. All of us learn as we go, even towards the end of our career. Ask your team for feedback: what you can be doing as a leader to help them be more productive, how you can improve their work environment, what process you can change for the whole team to be more effective, how you can better communicate with them, etc. And when the feedback is provided, accept it with grace and say thank you. It’s not easy to hear constructive feedback, but it helps you improve as a manager and as a professional.
Don’t play favorites
Double standard is the fastest way to trust deterioration. Playing favorites destroys strong teams. Don’t do it! Just don’t!
Treat everyone fairly
Always treat everyone fairly. Have the same set of expectations for every team member and create team rules that you expect everyone to respect and follow, such as a “don’t gossip” rule, for example. Some leaders create the team rules collectively with their teams which ensures that everyone agrees to uphold the same set of standards.
Setting clear expectations upfront, including clear roles and responsibilities, ensures that there are no surprises. This takes extra stress out of the daily routine. Each employee knows what they are expected to deliver and are not surprised during their performance review discussion.
Gossip kills trust. Effective leaders set—and follow—a rule of not discussing one team member with another behind his/her back.
Take the time to get to know every single member of your team.
Ask questions, consistently. And then listen. You will be surprised what you can learn if you keep quite during discussions or meetings and just let others talk.
Act with consistency
Consistency is key to great leadership. Consistency of acts, behaviors, moods, expectations. I’ve worked for managers before who would be happy one day and infuriated the other, who would set out one path one day and totally change it the next day. This creates uncertainty, frustration, and distrust. I am not saying don’t pioneer change and stay agile. I am saying that whenever possible provide your team with unwavering support that they can rely on and set of rules and expectations that will be their guiding star through good times and bad.
Put the success of the team before your own
When your team knows that you are in it for your own success, they won’t give you their best. Ever. Instead show them that you put them ahead of your own ambitions (or at a minimum let them in on your ambitions and give them a seat at the table in achieving them). And again, I can’t stress it enough: take the blame, give away the credit.
At the end of the day, success of your team is your success as well. The two go hand in hand. But in your desire to climb the corporate (or start-up) ladder, don’t leave behind or forget those who made it happen. None of us can achieve success alone, remember that.
Trust leads to loyalty. And loyalty leads to people doing their best to deliver results for you and the company. To earn trust and respect you have to give trust and respect, as well as look out for your people. And if you do, there will be no limit to what you can achieve.
This article was written by Ekaterina Walter from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.