Trust in Leadership and Team Building

🕑 3 minutes read | Dec 19 2022 | By Craig Gerdes, TTA Learning Consultant

Strong teams are founded on trust and confidence in the leader and with each other. Without it, people won’t take risks and any meaningful progress will be minimal. Ultimately, the team and the organization will not reach their full potential and success will be difficult to achieve. If you are in a position of leadership and responsible for a team, one of the most important ingredients to your success and the success of your team is TRUST.

Building and Maintaining Trust

People don’t automatically trust one another. It is a process that needs to be built and continuously maintained by everyone, but it starts with the leader. The leader sets the tone and the ground rules for trust to flourish.

First, leaders should make sure that all participants understand that they can speak freely, without worry that they could become a target of criticism, ridicule, or retribution. Next, everyone knows that nothing discussed will be mentioned outside the room, unless all participants agree that some aspect of the meeting needs to be shared with other parties. Ground rules will help to set things in motion, but trust will only grow if all participants demonstrate that they can behave in a trustworthy manner.

Developing Constructive Work Relationships

Trust is one of the most important aspects of all human relationships and that also includes work relationships. Research has shown that if employees trust their leaders, they are much more likely to be open in their communication. For example, high trust on the part of a leader stimulates high worker performance, which in turn reinforces trust and thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This creates a constructive cycle of trust between the employee and the leader.

However, in a destructive cycle, low trust on the part of the leader contributes to low worker performance, which then reinforces a leader’s low trust. To improve trust, either the leader or the employee can initiate a break from the destructive cycle. For example, a leader can react to a low-producing employee by giving back more trust and responsibility, hoping to motivate better performance. Or the employee can react to low trust with increased productivity, hoping to persuade the leader that he or she is deserving of more trust.

Trust is Key

Trust is an important foundation for leaders because it provides them the footing to:

  • Initiate difficult conversations with team members or co-workers
  • Resolve conflict in healthy ways to maintain positive relationships
  • Influence and motivate others to go beyond their comfort zone
  • Delegate more responsibilities to others without fear

Personal Reflection

Many believe a trusting relationship is a basic ingredient to leadership effectiveness. On a scale of 1-10 (1=low, 10=high) indicate the degree to which:

  • You trust your employees
  • You trust your leader/manager
  • You believe your coworkers trust you

What can you do to improve your scores?

Team Reflection

Think about your department or work team. How important is trust in the success of your team? How can trust be further developed especially if trust is broken?

Trust is crucial to the success of all leaders. Understanding your team and how trust can be improved within your team will help everyone achieve individual and organizational goals much easier and without conflict. If you’re interested in how TTA can help develop your team’s leaders and create more trustful teams, visit: our Leadership Development page.

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