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11 ways to build trust within your team

3 min read


This post is by Mike Henry, founding instigator of the Lead Change Group, where they’re instigating a leadership revolution. He’s @mikehenrysr on Twitter and is also active on LinkedIn.

Trust is flexibility.  It allows you to achieve more than you ever thought you could.  Trust lubricates relationships and provides freedom of movement necessary for great team achievements.

Without trust, just like the moving parts of a car, your team will either break down or rust.  If you continue to attempt great achievements, friction between members will cause the team to overheat and lock up.  If you give in to the inertia, your team will simply coast until it stops and begins to rust.  Either way, achievements will just become too difficult.  At critical moments, someone won’t be available or misfortune will mysteriously occur.

To avoid either the breakdown or the rust out, you must do things to keep the parts working together and maintain flexibility.

  1. Give Win First. No one ever created a win-win relationship without letting the other person win first.  If you refuse to let the other person win, you force everyone to contract and withdraw.
  2. Listen and learn. Attention, focus and time are scarce commodities.  Consider how much (or little) time you spend focused on a single activity or person.  Actively listen to others and work to understand them twice as long as normal today.
  3. Appreciate and value others. Simply forcing yourself to listen and focus doesn’t mean you will learn. Appreciation is the point at which you engage. Bring energy to maintain the connection with others out of your own internal desire. Appreciating and valuing another person builds trust. (Hat tip: Monica Diaz’s book “Otheresteem.”)
  4. Remember what you hear and see. If you appreciate something, you will process and consider it in a way that will help you remember. As you remember what you hear and see, others rest more in their understanding of you, and that builds trust.
  5. Trust others. Nothing betrays trust more than the lack of trust. Most often, people who won’t trust others do so because they can’t be trusted either. If you would never steal from someone else, why are you always afraid the other person will steal from you? Trust first.
  6. Find solutions. Begin with the belief that the other person can succeed. Don’t tell them their idea won’t work. Help create ways to make them successful.
  7. Make a sacrifice. Sometimes the solution to someone else’s problem is a sacrifice on your part. Be willing to be the solution to your teammate’s problems.
  8. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t make the same mistake twice. People will forgive errors made by genuine people attempting to do the right thing. Work hard to avoid repeat mistakes.
  9. Make it right. Even though errors can erode trust, you build trust when you fix a mistake well. Be proactive and do the right thing.
  10. Give generous credit and praise. People want to matter. If you help people be important and valuable, you become valuable.
  11. Do what you say. It all comes down to this. If you are not capable of delivering, people will like you but not trust you to lead.

Act like an owner and take care of your team. If you don’t do the routine maintenance, your team won’t be able to perform when the opportunity arises.

What other routine maintenance tips could you offer?

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