Building Leadership Trust

This is a guest post by Marc Millan. He is a worship pastor and fellow blogger, you can read his blog here.

Regardless of position we all have something inside of us that gravitates towards people. There is also something inside of us that will cause us to distance ourselves from people. I believe this core premise is trust. When it comes to leadership, if you’ve read Patrick Lencioni’s Book (Five dysfunctions of a team) you already know that without trust, a team doesn’t really stand a chance at achieving anything significant. Why? Why trust? I believe it’s mainly because we are relational, regardless of your personality shy or not we all desire to have trust and for people to be able to trust us.

For a follower, looking at a leader the greatest question they will ask themselves is, if I follow you can I trust you? Is this leader seeking to help me grow as a person, part of this team? Or is this leader ultimately seeking out what’s best for them. Trust is critical in leadership, the biggest question a leader has to ask themselves is am I willing to help this person succeed. If a leader has any other motive than helping people become better, we need to revisit our passions or choose to step aside because leading is serving not the other way around.

Your title shouldn’t remind you of your privilages or power is should remind you of your responsibility. You might be asking how can I build trust within my team or organization? Here are three steps to get you started.

  1. Listen to your teamYour team is well aware of what is working and they have suggestions, ideas that they’d like to share since they are held accountable for execution. Taking time, spending quality time with key team members allows them to trust you more because you’ve shown them that they matter as people first and what they have to say is valid input. (You may not always need to apply their input but you should take time to listen)
  2. Empower your team A team is built so that together, more is achieved, as a leader you unleash creativity, leadership and trust when you empower them, which is a shift in responsibility. This is different from delegation, which simply gives away a task. Manager’s delegate, leaders empower.
  3. Speak life to your team– See their greater potential, even if you are in a season of learning and growing, use gracious words, build them up, help them see where they are and where they could go by encouraging them and teaching them a better way.

These are just some ways I have learned to build trust with teams in my young journey as a leader. I hope they help you create a culture of trust and allow the vision to move faster and farther.

Question: What other ways can we build leadership trust? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • A big method I use is being involved with them outside team meetings and functions. When people see that you genuinely care about them when your dream or responsibilities aren’t on the line, it does a long way to build trust.

    Great post Marc!

    • Jason, absolutely, spending time with the team outside of functionality or even sending them a thank you card or phone call middle of the week builds more trust.
      Thank you for your insight and sharing.

      • I like the thank you card idea. I’ve done an encouraging email or a text/phone call, but I think I need to integrate thank you cards into the mix.

    • Anonymous

      I think showing you care and want to add value to the person/team is a great way to build trust. Great thoughts Jason.

  • Brandon

    Great post! This really hit home with me!

    • Brandon, thanks bro,

    • Anonymous

      Brandon, if you have not yet checked out Marc’s blog make sure you do. He is a great writer.

  • This is really good advice. Trust helps team members buy in to the leader’s vision because they know that his vision is larger than simple self-advancement.

    • Anonymous

      Such a great point Loren. The people will only follow a leader they trust. Make sure you check out Marc’s blog, I know you will enjoy reading it.

    • Loren, you are spot on, the team “buys in” when they know they can “weigh in” and having that trust is the crucial ingredient to vision enhancement.

  • One additional way a genuine leader can gain trust in those that follow would be to avoid distractions. I once witnessed an employee engaging with a leader only to watch the leader stop to take a phone call on his blackberry. This was a sure sign that the electronic tether and individual on the other line meant more to this leader than the person standing right in front of them. Watch out for the distraction that screams, “I don’t care about you.”

    • Anonymous

      Such a true point. I think this is such a huge problem, technology can be good but it often distracts us from our greatest assets which is people. We need to remember to be fully engaged with our people. Thank you for sharing.