This is an extract from a wonderful leadership book, The 7 Qualities of Tomorrow’s Top Leaders, Successful Leadership a New Era, by Andreas Von Der Heydt
Trust is a core ingredient to build successful relationships. Both personal and professional ones. It is a major leadership characteristic. However, you can’t take it for granted. You need to work hard to earn trust and to keep it.
Isaac Watts once said that “Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.” If you’re not seen as a trustworthy person you can neither form engaged relationships nor high performing teams. And without them you can’t become a successful leader and manager. If you are not careful, you can lose trust within days or even hours.
In this article Andreas shares his thoughts and what he considers to be the most important principles to build, regain, and sustain trust.
Walk Your Talk. Mean what you say and keep your word. Deliver your committed tasks and duties on time and in full. Be consistent and reliable. Arrive promptly to meetings. If you might risk missing an agreed timeline, proactively communicate and explain it, apologize and come forward with a new proposal. Try not missing it a second time to protect your reputation. Lead by example and permanently demonstrate that you deliver on your promises and that others can count on you.
Communicate Frequently And Openly. Direct, quick, accurate, and honest communication builds trust. Share regularly with others. This underlines that you have no hidden agenda. Address possible trust issues within a team in an open and prompt manner. In this context it’s also crucial to develop and possess good active listening skills.
Tell The Truth And Take A Stand. Be honest and don’t lie. This is not as easy as it might sound. Of course, we wouldn’t admit it, would we? Anyway, it’s key not leaving out relevant facts, figures, and opinions when discussing and arguing. Even, and especially, when it’s awkward and painful. People will appreciate it. Also, be willing to say no. You can’t be everything to everyone. Taking a stand based on sound arguments -well and politely articulated -will earn you respect and trust.
Be Transparent And Unite. Share your objectives, strategy, agenda, and values. People want to know what you think and believe and to understand how they might fit into the picture. This gives them security and confidence in you and your intentions. Create a common identity and establish a sense of companionship.
Show People That You Care About Them. Be out for others and not primarily for yourself. Appreciate all people you’re dealing with. Show sensitivity to their interests, wishes, and needs. Value them and thank them. Express sincere gratitude two times too often rather than missing it just once. Do it from the heart.
Empower Others. Show people that you trust them. Grant flexibility, stimulate initiative-taking, and ask for regular feedback. Have faith in others’ skills and capabilities. Be willing to let go and to share power. “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them,” (E. Hemingway).
Focus On The Positives. Don’t punish mistakes. As they can happen, think and speak about them in a results-oriented and forward-looking way. Jointly look with others for solutions and implement actions to avoid them happening again.
Coach And Train Others. Guide people around you and assist them in finding their way and the right solutions for themselves. Don’t tell them what to do. Instead ask them for their opinions. Support them in becoming great and outstanding.
Follow High Ethical Standards. Do the right things. Even, and especially, when it might be hard. People will like, respect, and trust your integrity.
Admit Mistakes And Weaknesses. Fortunately, you’re only human. So, when you don’t do the right thing, admit it. Be transparent, authentic and willing to talk about your mistakes and faults in a constructive manner. When you are vulnerable and have nothing to hide you radiate trust. That’s what people love.
Establish Long-Term Relationships. Trust is usually not the result of short-term actions and profits. It’s stemming from deeper values, ethics, and fundamental principles. Take your time and don’t rush. Be willing to let trust evolve and flourish. The best trust fertilizer is to “give without any strings attached.” Don’t always expect something in return.