Four Ways to Build Trust for Leadership Success

By Dianna Cutts on November 30, 2018

Imagine you have just stepped into the leadership of an established team. Sure, you're a successful leader—but it's clear that you have a lot to learn about your new team. How do you build that trust?

Getting an opportunity to lead a team does not immediately put you in a position of authority with that team.

Understand that I'm referring to a "leader"—not a manager. Managing a team refers to stepping in and controlling the activities of that team to ensure that the departmental goals are accomplished. Leadership, on the other hand, refers to an individual's ability to influence, motivate and enable others to contribute toward organizational success.

Building trust is foundational to future success as a leader. Before a leader can influence there must be trust.

Trust refers to a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of another person. Many times when a new leader is brought into an established team this may take time. To develop this confidence in you as their new leader, you must earn it.

Earning trust is a necessity if you hope to influence and motivate beyond just managing the workflow. This process develops as you build a relationship. Relationship building is often overlooked in the business environment, but it is required if you desire to influence your team!

How does this happen?

Here we share four ways you can begin to build that relationship with your team and develop the trust that allows them and you to thrive in your organizational goals.

Four Ways to Build Trust in Your Team

1) Be part of the team

People bumping fists over conference table

Get to know each member of your team and let them know who you are!

Sure, you can start by letting them know about your experience and skills that have helped you get where you are in your career, but don't stop there.

Who is the "person" behind the leader? Who are you, really? Tell them.

The workforce of today doesn't just want to know your name and title. They want to know how you can relate to their struggle. As you built your career, how did you maneuver through life's challenges? Tell them a bit about how their new leader spends their spare time. Perhaps you share common hobbies or interests with members of your team. Go beyond just your resume and title and let them know who their new leader is.

2) Listen to Your Team

Sharing about yourself will help your team get to know you. But as you work to build a relationship and earn trust with them, don't make the mistake of talking only about yourself. Take the time to listen. Meet one-on-one. Meet as a group. Ask your team about their families, their interests, their work history.

If they have a young family, find out how they are able to achieve work-life balance. What are their career goals? How long have they been on the team and how can you help them achieve their goals?

Trust will grow as you sincerely show concern and interest in their needs.

Adult shaking hands with a female adult

3) Understand the Team Expectations

Being able to motivate requires that you understand the expectations of your team. What is the vision of the group? Who are their customers? Take time to understand the primary accountabilities for each team member. What differentiates their accountabilities from their co-workers? What are their biggest accomplishments? If they're relatively new on the team find out what attracted them to this department. How has their transition been? Are there responsibilities that they need help with?

Talk to the seasoned team members. Have they stepped up to a leadership role during the transition? Determine if there are any latent issues—were any of the seasoned team members hoping to progress to the next level?

Understanding the team expectations allows you to know where they are at and how you can meet them to elevate to the next level.

4) Observe your Team

After you've asked questions and shared about yourself, then take time to observe. Observe their interactions with one another as well as with others in the workplace. Understand the main product this team provides.

As you take the lead with your new team, avoid the impulse to go in and prove how much you know. Instead, go in with the intent to serve the team. Build their trust in you by showing that you are interested in knowing what they do, how they do it and why they do it. Motivate them by holding brainstorming sessions to drive process improvement. Listen and learn.

Build Trust for Organizational Success

Team having a brainstorming session in an office conference room

The more available you are to your team, you will find that building those relationships—and ultimately earning trust—will enable you to truly influence and motivate the team and take them to the next level in the organization.

Being equipped for leadership can also happen in the classroom. Our leadership degree programs at associate through doctoral level can provide you the knowledge and experience to lead your team toward success. Discover how you can be equipped by requesting more information about our practical programs.

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Category: Leadership