How Leaders Build Trust

by Pranav Ramesh
June 30, 2020
Leadership strategies to build trust

“Trust me.”

“I saw online that…”

“I read somewhere…”

It doesn’t matter where people come across information, they will not trust anything that appears forced or salesy. People tend to accept verifiable information over baseless statements. They rely on reputed sources of information which can be verified independently to get news, or any current information for that matter.

The public deficit in trust in the media, leaders, and celebrities is at an all-time high.

However, that doesn’t prevent effective leaders from winning the trust of their employees.

With a strong vision that they share with their employees, inspiring them to realize that vision is a large part of the collaborative process that creates a foundation of trust. A vision is nothing if not executed correctly. It cannot be objectively verified as realistic, or reachable.

It’s a team of people who bring vision to life.

How do leaders inspire their team?

What makes them more effective?

Why are they able to gain the trust of their employees, when others cannot?

Successful business leaders believe that there is a method – a systematic approach – to building trust. They depend on a specific set of skills and practices to build that trust. Here are some of the ways effective leaders build trust among their colleagues and employees:

1. Effective Communication

“Your technical skills will get you in the door, but your communication skills will get you promoted”

John Fisher, Former CIO and current founder of Rethinking IT

Technical skills are easy to acquire. Businesses can upgrade the technical skills of their employees with suitable training, or self-actuated professionals can acquire them on their own. However, communication skills are mastered over the years, if not decades.

In the workplace, most employees need clear direction to be effective. Leaders that can articulate that direction successfully are more effective in gaining the trust of their employees. Something as simple as defining the project and its objectives can give the employees the precise direction they need. Leaders who can do that earn their trust.

2. Accountability

“One thing I think is important, as a leader, is you have to take accountability. You have to admit mistakes.”

Mark Griesbaum, Former CIO/COO and Managing Director at Affinity4U

Relationships built on trust are strong and more lasting. Period. To earn that trust, leaders must display integrity, honesty, and accountability. They must be willing to take responsibility for the team’s shortcomings and guide them to improve their performance.

Employees appreciate the leader’s investment in them, understand that the leader has a genuine desire to help them, and will return the favor with their trust.

3. Demonstration of Capability

“You have to learn to be uncomfortable. If you become comfortable, and coast that way, you just won’t develop.”

Mark Griesbaum

Effective leaders inspire their followers to come out of their comfort zone. Pushing or forcing the employees to do so hardly works. That’s why the best leaders lead by action. They take up projects that others don’t; they display an ability to learn new skills and acquire fresh knowledge to solve new and emerging problems.

Their success inevitably inspires their followers to emulate. Naturally, the followers learn to place their trust in the leader’s ability to make good decisions over time.

“Take the jobs that nobody wants. Take on the problems… you only have to get slight improvement to be a hero in that.”

John Fisher

RELATED: Three Leadership Skills That Can Get You Promoted


Final Thoughts

Ultimately, leaders are not afraid of making mistakes. They understand that errors happen. Experimenting with new ideas and solutions often comes with frequent failures. When that happens, leaders own up to their mistakes, hold themselves accountable, and work to address them proactively, while others look for cover. This capacity to hold themselves accountable instead of playing the blame-game is critical for earning the trust of their employees.

Join Eric, John, Mark, and Tulika on episode 3 of

Careers and Conversations:

Journey to the C-Suite

Part 1

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