Feb 08 2021| Leadership | trust
Creating a Culture of Trust - Tactics Part Two
by Phil Eyre Founder
‘She produced a technically strong report; it had all the data in the right places and her conclusions were reasonable. But she came across as arrogant, uncaring and managed to put everyone’s backs up. The result was that no-one accepted her conclusions. It was a dreadfully awkward meeting.’ [stated by one of our clients, 29/1/2021].
Relatability is a key factor in developing trusting relationships and trustworthy leadership. There are many factors that can be overlooked, but even the small things like giving praise or sharing your own mistakes can help people build trust in you as a leader.
A friend of mine, and influencer in my life, puts it like this: ‘The true currency of business is relationships, not money.’ (Matt Bird, Founder of Relationology International). Here are a few tactics to consider:
- Connect with your people, don’t just communicate. Connect with them as individuals and as a group. That means understanding where they’re coming from, being sensitive to the actual tone, not what you believe it should be.
- Understand your own style and how this impacts on others; choose to adapt accordingly. Without adapting, highly energised people will switch some people (not all) off rather than motivate them. Steady or reserved people will fail to inspire others unless they inject some energy.
- Give praise. Encourage others, preferably publicly. Encourage great attitude and not just good results. Some leaders seem praise-adverse, believing that people “should just do their jobs”. Whilst over-praise can create problems, an absence of encouragement will suffocate creativity.
- Be proactive with people and teams that have a weaker relationship with you. Invite them to dinner, show some support, even if by rights they should make the first move.
- Eat together more frequently, preferably unhurriedly.
- Give quality time to your quality people. It can be too easy to give a disproportionate amount of time to people that are problematic and miss out on those that are more of a delight. Don’t miss them out.
- Actively seek critical feedback. Where are you going wrong, how are you coming across? If all you’re hearing is applause, then you’re not hearing the whole truth. Seek those who will tell you the whole truth, kindly.
- Share a story or two of your own mistakes. It doesn’t need to be stories that will undermine your credibility (see our third trust-tactics article on the importance of consistency) People in positions of authority can easily become dehumanised to others. Acknowledging your mistakes helps to build empathy. Using humour in this context can build relatability. If your humour is at other people’s expense, trust will plummet.
- Listen actively and attentively to others to learn from them, especially those that aren’t like you. If everyone in your team is more or less like you, then your team isn’t yet complete.
- Pay attention to the non-verbal signals. Their mouth might say yes but if their face and body say no, you need to continue the conversation.
- Be interested, often. Ask open questions, make genuine enquiries about what your people care about and what’s going on in their lives, not just the tasks they’re performing. Too often, being interested is reserved only for interviews and the Christmas party. Genuine interest means listening and enjoying their story.
- Be interesting. Don’t be a bore and talk only about yourself and your needs.
- Set aside proper time to understand your people (to listen to them). Resist the belief that this isn’t proper work; it is crucial to your leadership. Refuse to believe that this is not valuable time. The performance benefits of a high trust organisation are substantial and sustainable.