Six steps to build trust with your team

There’s no way to put this irrefutable leadership fact gently, so I’ll just come right out and say it plainly:

You can’t lead people who don’t trust you.

That’s an inarguable point that’s true for any leader. Itt’s especially true, however, for those of you who lead remote or hybrid teams. The lack of everyday face-to-face interaction can be a breeding ground for distrust if you as a leader fail to take intentional steps to build trust with your team members. Here’s how you do that:

Take ownership

I know trust is a perception, and how people perceive you isn’t completely in your control. However, you can always improve. Decide now that you are going to take the steps necessary to become the type of leader that your employees can count on. Justifications, rationalizations and blame won’t change how much they trust you, only your behavior will.

Put employees first

If you want to be more trusted, you need to be more focused on the needs of others. Working only on your agenda and issues won’t build employees’ trust in you. Working to resolve the issues and challenges your team faces will.

Fulfill your commitments

When you tell people you will do something, do it and complete it on time. If you make promises you can’t deliver, people lose trust in you and your ability.

Offer help

Employees believe that you have the expertise, resources, budget and authority to make their lives easier. When you don’t address their concerns, they believe that you don’t care enough to help them, and that makes them lose faith in you. So support them when they need it. For example, if your team is struggling under the weight of a major project, bring in some extra manpower or roll up your sleeves and help cover the work.

Show integrity

Practice what you preach, be honest, put the team and organization ahead of yourself, don’t cut corners or act unethically, and hold people accountable when they break the rules. When employees see that you follow a strong moral code, they will grow to trust you.

Trust them

Think about it: Aren’t you more willing to trust people who you know trust you? Create higher levels of trust by trusting your employees more. Don’t wait for them to prove themselves to you. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and believe that they have the best interest of the organization in mind. Grant them more autonomy and stop micromanaging.

As a leader you can’t wait for others to trust you. You must take the initiative and start building trust right out of the gate. If you didn’t catch the inference, the suggestions above all require you to be the leader by showing trust.

You’ve got to be willing to be vulnerable, to put yourself out there in front of your team. It’s one of the toughest things leaders have to do, but it’s the essence of leadership. If you can’t go first when it comes to trust, when will you go first? More importantly, if you don’t lead and model trust, will your team give you the opportunity to lead in other areas?