How to build a team that trusts you as their leader


There’s an awful lot to think about when taking on a new management position. You need to balance the books; you want to innovate and develop. But the most important aspect to work on is the human element. The team you assemble and the relationships you build. At the heart of that teambuilding process is the notion of trust.

A good team is a reward in itself, but it also pays back into the other stuff you want to achieve. A business where the crew trusts the management is 2½ times as likely to perform well financially. And when you have faith in your team and they trust you, it is possible to take those risks that will make your collective achievements stand out above those of teams that lack your togetherness.

Trust like that doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a leader to be selfless, transparent, and empathetic. Those aren’t always the traits that get you to the top! But they are the ones that keep you there.

It all begins with listening. Active listening. That means going out of your way to ask open questions of your teammates, and listening carefully and openly to the replies. Ask how the project’s going. Ask about problems. But also ask about opportunities and fresh ideas. Make the effort to show up in person and make eye contact.

And remember: listening doesn’t finish when you walk away. Thinking about what your colleagues told you later in the day can help you to uncover new ideas and insights. And when you come back with a response to something you heard earlier, you show your team members you take them seriously; you’re not just asking questions to ‘show an interest.’

Having asked your employees to speak up to you, now it’s your turn to open up to them. Today’s leader doesn’t sit on a pedestal. Respect is won by doing, not appearing to do. When you make a commitment, follow through. Do as you say. And be honest if there’s a problem or you have concerns. You built this team to be excellent: everyone has their strengths, so if you need a solution to an unexpected problem, throw it to the team.

Don’t be shy with praise, but neither offer it as a gesture. Your crew needs to know you value their work, but empty praise will ring hollow and they’ll pick up on it. If you’re that leader who’s worked their way up ambitiously without spending so much time thinking about the people around you, learning to value and communicate with your team like this is not just about what you do in the office. It requires a change of mindset, a period of thought and reflection in which you learn about yourself as well as your neighbors.

The folks over at The Business Backer have put together an excellent resource to work through step by step as you learn to trust your colleagues, and encourage them to trust you. Integrate these thought processes into your daily management game, and you’ll soon feel your team warming around you.

About Marilyn Vinchy

Marilyn Vinchy is a freelance writer and HR specialist. She works for several marketing and public relations agencies, supporting their content teams. She writes about leadership, careers and personal development, and has a knack for productivity and time management techniques. You’ll find her on Twitter here, and you can also visit her blog.

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