Does your team trust you?
Have you ever worked on a team where everything just seemed to work and you were able to create big impact even if you didn’t have all the resources you needed or the best plans in place? Or, have you worked on a team where all the plans and resources were available, but somehow the team never really clicked and the synergy just wasn’t there so you just weren’t able to meet your goals?
I have had both of these experiences in my career, and with hindsight I can see that the differentiating ingredient was trust. I see trust as the glue that holds a team together and supports them through challenge and change. In my career, when I trusted my leader I gave them everything I had, and if I didn’t trust them I was cautious, slower to produce and often started looking at job ads.
Trust is an essential ingredient to creating high-performing teams, and yet we don’t often name it, never mind nurture it within our organizational culture. I am often invited to work with teams and help them develop better plans to improve their performance. I am no longer convinced that this is the most effective starting point for high performing teams. I think we need to pay attention to building trust alongside those detailed plans, and then we will be truly accessing your potential as a team.
I was fortunate to spend 2016 diving deeper into the neuroscience of trust through my certification as a Conversational Intelligence® Coach under the mentorship of Judith E. Glaser. Understanding how our conversations nurture or diminish trust is a powerful lens to think about if you are a leader and wondering how to build trust within your team.
Here are three leadership practices to pay attention to if you are committed to building trust:
1. Be Clear – When you are the leader, you have a responsibility to provide as much clarity as possible to your team. Be clear about the direction you are heading, the challenges, the opportunities and what you expect from people. When people are unclear it inherently creates a fear response which activates a part of the brain that blocks our best thinking. If you want your team to problem solve, be creative and execute plans quickly, then provide the clarity they are craving. And yes, you will need to provide this multiple times – it is not a one and done exercise.
2. Be Real – Many leaders hold the false belief that need to have all the answers and prove to their team they are worthy of holding that leadership position. This behaviour is getting in the way of building trust with your team. In Dare to Lead, Brené Brown talks about vulnerability as the starting place for connection, which leads to trust. If you are willing to admit you don’t have the answers and invite your team to brainstorm solutions, you actually create connection and build trust. We need to know our leaders are human, and these small acts of vulnerability demonstrate your realness which inspires us to work with you and trust you.
3. Be Consistent – Leadership is demanding because eyes are on us ALL THE TIME. Your people are observing, assessing and deciding what your behaviour means, and how it will impact them. When you behave consistently with your demeanor, actions, decisions and direction, you create a feeling of safety within your team. Your consistency sends signals to others that all is well, and they are safe. This baseline feeling of safety and security creates the conditions for great thinking, innovation, creativity and problem solving to emerge. This is why leader resilience and self-care is so essential to building trust in your team. You must take care of YOU, so that you can show up consistently for others.
Now that your trust awareness has been elevated, I encourage you to pay attention to how you nurture trust within your team. I believe that you will be pleasantly surprised at the impact trust has on team performance, output and results. If you are curious to explore this further and be supported in your trust transformation, then reach out to me and let’s talk about what’s possible for you.