Research demonstrates that individuals, teams, and organizations with high levels of trust perform better. Therefore, developing trust between yourself and others is like gold in the realm of leadership.
But exactly how do you build trust?
Being an honest and respectful person is certainly a very important beginning to building trust with others. But, according to a new article in Harvard Business Review*, there are some additional important drivers:
People tend to trust you when they believe they are interacting with the real you (authenticity), when they have faith in your judgment and competence (logic), and when they feel that you care about them (empathy). When trust is lost, it can almost always be traced back to a breakdown in one of these three drivers.
Empathy. This is a big derailer for a lot of leaders. If people think you care more about yourself than about others, they won’t trust you enough to lead them. Some “hard charging” leaders are, for example, are impatient in meetings. They find it hard to listen to others. But, if you signal that you matter more than everyone else, why should anyone trust the direction you’re going in? What’s in it for the rest of us to come along? There’s a basic solution to this problem. Instead of focusing on what you need in that meeting, work to ensure that everyone else gets what they need. Another great tip from the authors: put your phone away during meetings; totally away – pay attention to others.
Logic. This competency refers to your ability to explain your ideas clearly and rigorously. In the Smith School Executive MBA program we would call this your Critical Thinking skills. Take the time to outline the logic of your proposals and make sure that they are data driven. Explain your idea and then provide the evidence/data. Ask trusted advisors to review your proposals and provide critical feedback before sharing more widely.
Authenticity. Who is the “real you?” Do you let this shine in your workplace? If not, people will sooner or later figure this out. When people sense that you’re concealing the truth or being less than authentic, they’re far less willing to make themselves vulnerable to you in the ways that leadership demands. The authors encourage us to pay less attention to what we think others want to hear and more attention to what you need to say to them.
We know that trust is vitally important for our success as leaders and these three “drivers” provide us with some excellent insights to continue to improve our overall success as leaders.
*Frei, F. and Morriss, A. “Begin with Trust,” Harvard Business Review, May – June, 2020.