The importance of developing relationships is a recurring theme in the world of leadership. Establishing relationships within your organization builds trust throughout the team, which is needed to lead your team to their greatest potential. These relationships are composed of back and forth interactions that develop a rapport or trust of each other when the relationship is positive. Trust is a key component to having these positive relationships. There are a number of things that you can do to establish and inspire trust in your organization.
In Stephen Covey’s book entitled, “The Speed of Trust,” he lists the following 13 Trust-Building Behaviors:
- Talk Straight: Telling the truth and leaving the right impression.
- Demonstrate Respect: How you treat others. There are two key elements: behaving in ways that show respect to others and demonstrating care and concern.
- Create Transparency: Telling the truth in a way that people can verify. Being honest, real, and genuine in a way people can verify.
- Right Wrongs: Make things right when wrong. It’s not only apologizing, but making restitution.
- Show Loyalty: Give credit to others; acknowledge them for their part in bringing about results. This includes speaking about others as if they are present.
- Deliver Results: Knowing what the desired results are and delivering them.
- Get Better: Pushing yourself to get better.
- Confront Reality: Taking the tough issues head-on. Includes the proverbial: “Elephant in the room,” “The emperor with no clothes,” discussing “sacred cows,” etc.
- Clarify Expectations: Create a shared vision and agreement about what is to be done upfront.
- Practice Accountability: Hold yourself and others accountable for doing what they are supposed to do. This works best when expectations are clearly defined.
- Listen First: Listen to understand the other person’s point of view, feelings, experience, etc., and to do it first before jumping to conclusions.
- Keep Commitments: Doing what you say you will do. It is the most important behavior for building trust.
- Extend Trust: Making trust a verb versus a noun. Extending trust to others builds trust and leverages trust in a reciprocal relationship. When we extend trust, people respond by extending trust back to us.
Following this list of trust-building activities is a great way to improve levels of trust. Similarly, it is imperative to look at where your organization is currently so you better understand the strengths and weaknesses of an organization. This allows you to focus your efforts on the areas that have the greatest impact. Completing a Trust Force Analysis can help you do this. Simply put, when using this tool, you and your team list the different behaviors (or forces) within your organization that build trust and those that undermine trust. From there you identify the areas that you, as a leader, and your team can positively influence. It may be continuing to build on the strength of transparency in the organization or attack a weakness such as improving the art of listening first so your team members feel important.
Keep in mind that it only takes one behavior to destroy trust, even strongly developed trust, and it can take days, months, or even years to rebuild broken trust. Whether developing trust amongst a team for the first time or rebuilding trust that has been broken, it is important to get feedback from the team. Utilize all of your feedback tools (1:1s, reviews, voice of workforce surveys, etc.) to make sure you are headed in the right direction in building trust.
“None of us achieve exceptional results alone. Relationships founded on trust come with great benefits. Benefits like engagement, innovation, accountability, mutual support, collaboration, cooperation, and the ability to do great work together,” (Russell, 2013). If you need more ideas on how to evaluate trust within your organization, and how to build that trust up so you have a high performing team, contact Switzer Associates Leadership Solutions.
For the Faith-based:
One priority Jesus had when beginning His ministry was asking His disciples to follow Him. This shows us that forming close relationships is a foundation for trust because the person giving advice must be someone we know and respect. Would you seriously listen to advice from a person you didn’t trust? This is why relationships are based on trust and are the backbone of a strong team.
One example of how trust can lead to a positive outcome is the story of Abraham. Abraham’s relationship with God is an example of trust and faithfulness, which resulted in the birth of the nation of Israel. God listened to Abraham’s prayers and gave Abraham the vision of his future to have children even though he was advanced in age. God fulfilled that promise thus building a strong bond of trust in the relationship by keeping his promise.
In order to show that trust was a two-way street in this relationship, God directed Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham trusted God and didn’t lose perspective even though Abraham was told to sacrifice his only son. Abraham believed in God’s promise that he would have descendants as numerous as the grains of sand in the sea. Hebrews 11:19 says, “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” He knew that if God wanted him to sacrifice this son, God could raise him back to life. God could still keep his promises and make him his heir. God could do whatever God wants to do. That’s real trust.
The relationship between God and Abraham had many elements of trust including talking straight, respect between the parties, fulfilling commitments, and extending trust among others. The Bible tells us in Romans 12:10 to “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” As a leader, use this as a basis to build trust in your relationships within your team.
Covey, Stephen M. R., The Speed of Trust (New York: Free Press, 2006).
Russell, N. (2013, September 26). Ten Ways to Cultivate Work Relationships and Grow Trust. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/trust-the-new-workplace-currency/201309/ten-ways-cultivate-work-relationships-and-grow-trust