Simon Sinek, the great leadership guru, opines that a team is not a group of people who work together; instead, a team is a group of people who trust each other.
Research published by Harvard Business Review points out that companies where trust between teams & members is high report 74% lower stress levels, 76% greater engagement, 106% greater energy in the office, and 50% more productivity than their counterparts in low-trust environments.
Further, Gallup Inc., the leading engagement survey company, confirms that only one in every three employees agree that they trust their organization’s leadership. On the same note, PwC, in its 2016 global CEO survey, reported that as high as 55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth.
It is clear beyond doubt that trust is powerful, and that building a ‘Culture of Trust’ can be good for any business or an organization. People like to do business and work with people they can trust.
What Do We Mean When We Talk About Trust
Trust doesn’t mean that everyone in the office is best of friends or even helpful when others need a hand. Rather, it is the process of building a stronger connection with their work and colleagues, developing the feeling of being a real contributor, consistently leading to higher engagement of the employees and resulting in positive outcomes for both individuals and organizations.
So, while building a ‘Trust Equation’ makes a meaningful difference, how can leaders develop and maintain it effectively? Here, I share a trust-building model applicable to the workplace, personal relationships, or even with the organization’s customers. When applied at the workplace and used well can result in trusting and stronger workplace relationships with coworkers and teams.
While it is essential first to build the foundation of trust, it is equally important to bear in mind that building trust is an ongoing process and not a one-off activity, and then as equally paramount to retain the trust that has been established.
Trust Starts with Empathy
The first step to building trust is Empathy, which is the ability to relate and experience others’ thoughts, emotions, or reality. Being more than simple sympathy, empathy is understanding and supporting others with compassion or sensitivity and requires three fundamental things – listening, openness, and understanding. By building your relationship with empathy, you have already accomplished half the job.
Now moving on to the remaining half of the trust paradigm, which is retaining the trust. Once built, following are the attributes that one needs to embody and exemplify for it to stay.
Reliability: Reliability is a crucial trait, simply put, people trust you for what you do and how you honor your words and promises. To be reliable, you need to be dependable. Do what you say you will do, be accountable, and take a stand. Reliability goes hand in hand with authenticity. Be who you say you are, demonstrate in your actions who you truly are as a person.
Competency: Competence is about the ability to deliver. Competence alone cannot make you a good leader or a trusted individual, but lack of competence can indeed undo your standing as a trusted leader. Professional competence is vital to trust. Being competent does not mean you are the Super Man who knows and can do everything. No! It means you know what to do and how to get things done. You need to know your strengths are and build your team with a complementary skill set. To put it in a nutshell, competence engenders confidence in a leader.
Integrity: A healthy relationship stands on the foundation of Integrity and Honesty. Integrity is always doing the right thing. Honesty and integrity cannot be like slip on and slip off like clothing; it is you and the consistency in every action you do. As we all know, Integrity and honesty are most revealed during times of fear, insecurity, and greed. The choices we make during these intense moments expose the depth of our character. A good question to ask yourself is: “Do I uphold my honesty and integrity when it’s convenient or when I think others are watching, or do I hold on to these even when no one is noticing?”
Vulnerability: The most ignored component of Trust is Vulnerability. In essence, it means that your coworkers are comfortable being vulnerable with each other. As easy as all of this might sound, team members can begin to function without concern for protecting themselves, only when they are truly comfortable being exposed to one another.
Vulnerability includes weaknesses, skill deficiencies, interpersonal shortcomings, mistakes, and also requests for help. It is the team members’ confidence that their peer intentions are good, and there isn’t any reason to be protective or careful around the group.
To conclude, I’d like to quote Deb Mills–Scofield, an author and strategic planner for organizations helping them achieve actionable and profitable innovative plane, “Trust trumps everything. And everything flows from trust — learning, credibility, accountability, a sense of purpose, and a mission that makes ‘work’ bigger than oneself.”