Building trust is a foundational skill of successful leadership. Wherever you see lack of initiative, low morale, or no engagement, ask yourself if the root problem is really a lack of trust or a lack of leadership integrity. Here are three ways to shore up your integrity to start rebuilding trust.
1. Make amends
To make amends you must walk that razor’s edge of owning your own weaknesses while showing that you have the will and strength required to course-correct. Where might you need to make amends? Examples include failing to keep others updated, losing your cool, avoiding difficult conversations, or ignoring suggestions.
What’s required: Making amends requires you to self-examine and tell yourself the truth. Making amends is not only about admitting a mistake, but about course-correcting and making things right. Once you can see clearly, you must have the courage to take responsibility for the success of your workplace, department or team. Strategize on your method for apology and what systems or habits need to be in place to avoid repeating the same mistake.
2. Keep promises
Failing to keep promises is not something a leader does on purpose, but occurs because of unconscious communication. For example, “Great idea, I’ll get back with you next week,” is a promise. “Let’s do lunch” can be perceived as a promise. “I’ll let you know,” is yet another vague promise with no system of accountability.
What’s required: Keeping promises requires self-awareness, telling others the truth, and a system of accountability. Notice how often you use vague language with no real commitment. If you say “Good idea, I’ll get back next week” do you have a specific time and date? Is it really a good idea, or are you just people pleasing? Do you really intend to follow through? If not, stop fibbing! Tell your employees the truth. You’ll get more respect and build more trust.
3. Get organized
Many potentially good leaders simply have very poor organizational skills. When you are unorganized, it’s easy to drop the ball, fail to communicate, miss a meeting or fail to get back with someone. The tragedy is when others judge you as lacking integrity when in fact you are simply unorganized.
What’s required: You must become technologically savvy. Systems are your friend. It doesn’t matter what device you use, but you must live by your calendar to fulfill obligations. Organizational skills give you a return on investment throughout your entire leadership journey, and your reputation is worth it.
Conclusion: No matter what your intentions, you will be judged by your actions. Don’t let a good reputation get tarnished because of unconscious habits, pride or the lack of willingness to keep upgrading your skills. If people don’t trust you they simply won’t follow you.
When employees trust their front-line leader, supervisor or manager, they take initiative, go the extra mile, give benefit of the doubt and bend over backwards to help the leader achieve goals. When you build trust, you elevate your leadership.
Marlene Chism is a consultant, international speaker, and the author of two books: “No-Drama Leadership: How Enlightened Leaders Transform Culture in the Workplace” (Bibliomotion 2015) and “Stop Workplace Drama” (Wiley 2011). Chism’s passion is developing wise leaders and helping people discover, develop and deliver their gifts to the world.
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