4 Ways to Build Trust As a Leader

July 10, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

The US Conference board states that 45% of those currently employed are unhappy and are looking for other work opportunities as the economy continues to improve. The next big challenge for employers is keeping good people around.

Loyalty attitudes have changed, it used to be that Zoomers (boomers who refuse to age) would stay with their employer until retirement. Times have changed, research shows that Gen X will have seven to nine different employers in a life time and Gen Y’s will change jobs/careers over a dozen times in their lifetime.

The ramifications of this shift in loyalty are huge. It means that as a leader you cannot use old methods of command and control with expectations of people just being happy to have a job. It means as a leader that you have to build trust.

Leaders who build trust increase loyalty and performance with their multi-generational teams. Here are four ways to build trust as a leader:

#1- Communicate openly with your team. Gen X and Y respect leaders who are open and accessible. Whereas Zoomers have come up through the ranks of protocol and hierarchy, Gen X and Y have been raised with informal communication, direct access to leaders and an ‘everybody is equal’ belief system. The more open you can be as a leader both professionally and personally the more connected the members of your team will feel.

#2- Share as much as you possibly can with as few secrets as possible. The old days of ‘those who know the secrets hold the power’ are gone. Share the realities of what is going on with your team from top leadership to the best of your ability. It has been proven that leaders who engage their teams in the realities of what is going on are able to build more involvement in solution and a bigger commitment to moving forward. When secrets are kept from the team they feel disconnected and undervalued.

#3- Focus on the strengths of each of the people on your team and do not spend time talking negatively about anyone on the team. People will go to the ends of the earth when they feel that their leader is trustworthy. This means as a leader that you are best served to focus on the strengths of each of your team members. When giving feedback focus on what they are doing well and what they can improve and avoid giving negative feedback. When team members come to you to complain about someone’s performance stay focused on the strengths each team member brings and offer to hold a three-way conversation to solve the challenging situation.

#4- Give credit to the performance successes of your team. Leaders who share the glory create major trust with their teams. You may be the reason the team is succeeding but if your focus is on what each of the team members have done to create the success they will work even harder for you. A former colleague of mine worked for a boss who gave credit to my former colleague in a major publication for the success of a project. My former colleague was blown away and vowed to stick with her boss for a very long time.

Do not under estimate the power of trust as a major leadership attribute. The higher levels of trust, the higher levels of employee loyalty.

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