10 Ways Any Leader Can Build Trust in the New Year

Make a trust building New Year's resolution

Posted Dec 19, 2014

The reality is we're entering the New Year with trust challenges facing the majority of leaders in the majority of organizations. Workplace trust remains at historic lows as employee engagement continues to languish. Yet, it's easy to think it's the other company, leader, or team that has a  problem. And when it comes to trust building, that's often true. But it's also true that we may have problems of our own, without even knowing it.

Even well intentioned worthy-of-trust leaders can have workplace trust problems. That's because what we think we say and do, and how we come across at work isn't always as we intend. Our words, actions, and intentions are subjectively interrupted by others. While you can never completely affect that subjectively, you can significantly increase your trust building odds with two  strategies:

Compliments of Benjamin D. Esham / Wikimedia Commons


  • First, make this your New Year's resolution or work goal: I will create my own trust-pocket where passion, engagement, innovation, and great work can flourish.
  • Second, focus your own behaviors on building trust currency and operating with trust. There are many ways to do that as a leader.

Here are 10 ways to get your started:

1. Actively decide to be a trusted boss. Follow through on that decision by developing the skills and leadership behaviors you need to enhance trust.

2. Consistently and predictably model, reward, promote, and advocate for the trust building behaviors you want more of from your staff and work group.

3. Competence increases your believability; be really good at what you do and stop tolerating  energy drainers, toxic people, or poor performers on your team.

4. Create word-action alignment by listening to your own words and doing what you say you're going to do.

5. Follow the rules, policies, and procedures you expect others to follow.

6. Eliminate barriers and bureaucracy that hamper great performance, innovation, and engagement.

7. Champion the contributions, ideas, creativity, and talents of those you lead.

8. Acknowledge your own mistakes, shortcomings, or missteps.

9. Be a person others can count on to do what's right, even if it involves risk. There's a difference between not doing what's wrong and doing what's right.

10. Operate with these trust essentials: give trust first; elevate your communication; demonstrate behavioral integrity; and build genuine relationships.

Trust-building leaders help to show what can be by modeling the behaviors they want from others. Want to create your own trust-pocket with great results and high staff engagement? Then, be the  message, not the messenger.

More tips on how to be a trusted boss and create trust in your work group:

You'll find specific how-tos in my latest book including five trust essentials: Trust, Inc.: How  to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation (Career Press, 2014).

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