Trust building is key to effective leadership, yet many leaders struggle with it.
Effective leadership is a journey crafted of moments and choices over time that become habits over time. Here are five powerful habits that set apart average from great leaders.
1. They’re radically honest.
Trust is at the core of strong leadership. Trust must exist between you and those whom you lead whether that be local people in person or global teams across multiple timezones; without it teams cannot thrive while organizations struggle to meet today’s rapidly-evolving workplace demands.
Leaders seeking to build trust must be willing to reveal their truths, even when those truths may be hard. Being open with others allows people to feel comfortable opening up about issues they wish. Furthermore, honest communication during interpersonal conflicts and disagreements is paramount; those able to maintain this form of dialogue will be seen by their teams as trustworthy leaders.
Radical honesty goes hand-in-hand with authenticity, another essential trait of effective leadership. Authentic leaders understand their personalities, values and beliefs without trying to conform to society’s expectations for what a leader should look or act like – they simply strive to be themselves in all situations they face.
Authenticity also involves acknowledging when one is wrong. Great leaders know not to think they know everything, so they seek feedback from team members and make changes as necessary. Doing this demonstrates genuineness and not afraid of vulnerability – traits which help build trust within teams. Also, being honest about errors sends the message that leaders will continue being truthful with them going forward.
2. They’re invested in helping people grow and become better.
Leaders who consistently offer support and guidance to their followers are seen as leaders who care about their development, showing they put others before themselves – which is an essential trait in being trusted individuals. By considering others first when making decisions, leaders become more likely to treat each individual with the respect they deserve while helping them unlock their full potential in life and work.
These leaders also take the time to get to know their followers, making sure that any challenges or obstacles that might be hampering their goal-achieving efforts are brought to their attention. Furthermore, they take time to learn about what matters to their people – such as family and personal health issues.
At every opportunity, these leaders engage staff members in decisions and change efforts, helping reduce feelings of uncertainty or lack of control that may contribute to decreased trust levels. It’s also a powerful demonstration that they are willing to make tough choices for the greater good of the team as well as demonstrate transparency.
Underlying these leadership behaviors lies the principle that higher-quality exchanges between leader and follower result in greater levels of trust, loyalty and commitment between them – known as leader-member exchange (LMX) theory – making up part of leadership development.
An environment characterized by high trust increases employee engagement, well-being and psychological safety for all its members. Leaders must understand how to build and keep trusting relationships among their staff – particularly during challenging times – by practicing five powerful habits described above.
3. They’re consistent.
Trust is essential, so when leaders frequently alter their tune, it can be difficult for employees to place their faith in them. Even worse is if their words don’t match up with their actions – for instance, if a leader claims they value confidentiality but then shares personal details of employees with another colleague without seeking their approval first, this can feel like betrayal of trust.
Uncertainty among leaders who handle sensitive information or ethical matters can be particularly troublesome; their followers require seeing that these leaders abide by a set of values and principles they can trust, or else they could question the decisions and actions made.
Consistently demonstrating compassion, active listening, ability to make connections, honesty, empathy and vulnerability is one of the best ways to build trust in an organisation. But leadership goes beyond simply these five habits alone – it involves showing up consistently in such a way that allows all members of staff to do their best work without fear or ridicule.
Trustworthy leaders know how to inspire and motivate their teams through both small and large scale initiatives, by having clear visions and helping their members understand how they fit into it all.
Leaders are there to provide support and encouragement when needed while also empowering employees to take the lead on their projects. While this may prove challenging at times, this approach allows employees to unleash their creativity and innovation – something only possible if they feel supported by their leaders – inconsistent support can leave people feeling isolated like a bear might attack!
4. They’re willing to admit when they’re wrong.
Leaders who acknowledge their errors are more likely to gain the trust of their followers, which makes admitting your errors even more critical. 81% of employees surveyed in my study say having leaders who can acknowledge when they make errors was either very or somewhat important for their satisfaction with leadership in their organization.
But how can we actually build a culture of trust? Simply stating your desire for transparency and honesty won’t do; to demonstrate it effectively you must show this by accepting responsibility for mistakes you’ve made yourself as well as sharing what lessons have been learned from these missteps with your team.
Practicing transparency breeds trustworthiness and shows your followers that you care deeply about helping to make things better. Furthermore, this practice shows them it is okay for them to be vulnerable too as that’s how growth and learning occur.
Survey results demonstrate that people whose leaders are willing to admit mistakes and request feedback are twice as likely to be satisfied with the leadership of their organizations. This is due to their increased confidence that leaders are adhering to their stated values – a fundamental principle of trustworthiness. When leaders don’t feel pressured to always be right, trust becomes much easier to build, leading to innovation and collaboration that leads to increased team success; which underscores why leaders must own up for any mistakes even when it seems irreparable. This underscores why leaders must accept their own mistakes without judgement from other team members; so crucial it is that leaders accept own up and own up whenever possible – no matter what consequences.
5. They’re contagious.
Infectious leaders tend to transmit these behaviors through to their direct reports, who in turn pass them along to subsequent levels of leadership and then throughout their organization’s culture–whether this change be for the better or worse. Eventually, this behaviour becomes an integral part of its culture–whether positive or negative.
Though reversing the global trust crisis may seem impossible due to pandemic, economic challenges, supply chain concerns, and fake news fears, leaders can make a positive difference by adopting five powerful habits. When done right these behaviors will have lasting impacts both personally and on those around them.
One key leadership characteristic is transparency. Leaders who are open about their mistakes and successes, share ideas without taking credit, actively seek input from others, and sincerely value each member of their team create an environment where it’s safe to take risks and harness creativity.
Trustworthy leaders are more effective at driving results than those without these qualities, particularly during difficult times. Therefore, it’s essential that leaders work on honing these skills.
If you need a refresher on how to master power leadership habits, I strongly suggest reading Stephen Covey’s business classic: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His clear and practical steps will enable you to lead more effectively in any circumstance.