How leaders build a culture of trust
For an organization or community or group to succeed, it is essential to have a culture of trust established and Leaders play an important role to build the culture of trust in ecosystem.
Leaders may have a compelling vision, rock solid strategy, excellent communication skills, innovative practices, deep consumer insights and talented teams yet some times they are not able to take the organization to the next level. Simply because leaders & employees don’t trust each other !
Culture of trust, gives you a sense a safety. When your team members feel safe with each other, they feel comfortable to open up, take appropriate risks, and expose vulnerabilities. Is building the culture of trust easy? The answer is ‘NO’. Building trust takes time.
When you don’t have the culture of trust, you will observe team members not sharing information openly, battling over rights and responsibilities, not cooperating seamlessly, not sharing bad news in time, not sounding alarm bells over “ticking” little bombs and working in silos. And such environment is not ripe for happiness, growth, innovation and success at workplace.
“Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people.” – STEPHEN R. COVEY
Leaders and Leadership plays a very crucial role to build the culture of trust in the ecosystem.
“Trust starts with trustworthy leadership. It must be built into the corporate culture.” – BARBARA BROOKS KIMMEL
Sometimes, leaders believe that others will trust them because of their position in the organization. That to my mind is the greatest mistake. On the contrary, Trust must be
earned, and leaders have to invest a lot of time for that. Let’s explore some of the practices that Leadership must practice to build and maintain the culture of trust in their work ecosystem.
Share the vision:
Team and employees looks up to leadership to know the vision. They want to know the direction, leadership is going to steer the ship and how they plan to take the ship in that direction. Also you need to ensure that the vision is well communicated to everyone. Keep the communication very simple and clear. And how the vision will translate into “what is in it for me” for every employee and how they can contribute to the success.
When you share your strategy for success, you acknowledge your trust in employees who determine that success. This has been well acknowledged that when you show someone that you trust them, they work hard to show that your trust is well placed.
Remember, when your team sees you repeat the same message at least 3-4 times in different methods /forums, it sinks into them that it matters to you the most and they jump into it.
Build connections and relationships:
Trust is all about establishing genuine connections and relationships. Go out to connect and listen to employees / teams – have more and more “Face time”. Walking around the office premises, meeting employees 1-1 or in small groups, a town hall with all employees, coffee with front workers, visiting the place of real work all are great examples to establishing connections. When managing large virtual teams speak as much on phone or connect over a skype call or have Q&A sessions on virtual conference each quarter.
One of the most important activity to establish connection and build relationship is to ask questions, listen, and show gratitude. Simple questions like “what are your biggest pain points?” and “How I can help you?” gives team so much of freedom to speak. Similarly to say “ I Appreciate you for…” or “well done team” builds the culture of motivation and aspiration – try appreciating the little things that you observe.
Walk the talk:
As you connect and listen, it is very important to listen intently with a genuine desire to intervene and help. Leaders should have the personal discipline and system to make a list of all little things that one need to follow through? When a team member reach out to you for something which needs some action from your end, it is to them a promise you are making. They will never follow up with you.
You need to ensure that as a leader, you follow through and make that happen. Also have a system to close loop with the person who brought it up to you.
Encourage open communication:
Make sure constant communication is happening, and use both informal and formal methods. And more so, when things are not too good. You need to be honest and transparent in your communication and ally fears. This also sets the culture where team / employee are open to share even the bad news and different opinions.
If nobody tells you that they have a different opinion – that they actually don’t agree with what you are doing – then you may sleepwalk your way into disaster. Encouraging bad news to flow in to you seamlessly is a key leadership skill to build trust.
Developing a culture of trust is very important in an organisation where people must work and/or live together to innovation & create value for clients. Leadership’s greatest battle today is to win the trust of stakeholders. Building this culture of trust within an organization is insanely important and starts from the top. Bear in mind, trust is like a forest – takes lots of time to grow but can burn down with just a torch of carelessness.
“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.” – WARREN BENNIS