Two of the most important ingredients in any relationship are trust and respect. When a leader loses the trust and respect of his or her workgroup, it will cause morale and attitude to decline and negatively impact results.
In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M. R. Covey defines trust as being born of the character and competence of an individual or organization. Character includes your integrity and intent and competence relates to your competence and results.
You’ve likely experienced someone having lied to you or breached your trust and yet you also likely tend to extend trust until someone violates it. Once trust and respect are lost they are extremely difficult to rebuild so let’s look at how you as a leader can create a relationship of mutual respect and trust.
Tip #1 Ensure Your Words and Actions Match
Integrity relates to the consistency between what you as a leader say and what you do. Integrity is also impacted by the consistency of your actions from day to day. Your team members will respect you as a leader when they see predictable behavior from you.
Tip #2 Maintain Confidences
As a leader you want to create an atmosphere where your team members feel comfortable that they can approach you with questions and concerns without fear of reprisal or having you repeat sensitive information to others. There are a few notable exceptions to the ‘maintain confidences’ rule, such as when you as the supervisor are notified of a serious situation that impacts the health, safety and well being of your workgroup. That could include harassment, assault or another situation that puts people in harm. In those situations you will have to let the employee know that you have a duty to investigate and report. As a leader you should avoid gossip about sensitive matters.
Tip #3 Have Your Team’s Back
Your team members count on you to advocate for them. By going to bat for your team to get needed supplies and resources and to remove obstacles and frustrations, your team will develop a high level of respect and trust with you. When the team’s performance fails to meet expectations, it is important that you as the leader accept responsibility and be accountable. Blaming your team will cause your team to feel that you aren’t on your side.
There is always the possibility that you’ll breach the trust of your team by accident, and when you do, it’s important to apologize quickly and completely.
Trust and respect can be seriously damaged when you as a leader are careless with your words and actions. By working at enhancing trust, it will pay off through the helpfulness of your team and their ability to generate results.