Basic Primer—Trust 101 for New Leaders

15 things every new leader should know about creating trust

Posted Jun 27, 2016

If you're new at leading or managing, you need tangible, real-world information about all sorts of topics to enable you to succeed as a newly appointed leader. But, one of the first topics on your list should be trust creation. That's because you won't get the followership and results you seek without it.

Consider this a trust 101 basic primer for how to operate with trust and create trust currency in your work group.

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Here are 15 things you can start doing today:

  1. Focus on you. Are you worthy of being given trust by those you lead? Focus first on becoming a trust-worthy leader.
  2. Be the message, not the messenger. Show, don't tell. Model the behaviors you want from others.
  3. Do what you say you're going to do. And do it very well. Your competence and behavioral integrity (alignment of words and actions) build influence and trust.
  4. Expect the best from others. And expect the best from yourself. Both require best-of-self characteristics such as kindness, consideration, compassion, ethics.
  5. Help others do great work. Make it about them, not you. Enable strengths, embrace differences, and create meaningful opportunities for people to shine.
  6. Know the difference between fair and equitable. Choose fair.
  7. Communications is not communication. The first is a tactic, the second a process requiring dialogue, understanding, listening, and open-mindedness.
  8. Help people see "what it looks like." Make what you want see-able, do-able, and purposeful by painting word pictures. When people can see it, they can do it.
  9. Make it clear what you stand for; what you value. Being against something is easy, but people need to know what you'll work to bring about or stand up for.
  10. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Your actions speak loudly. What are they telegraphing to others about you?
  11. If you want trust, give it. Be the spark that ignites the process that creates workplace trust currency. If you don't know how, learn how.
  12. Use "trust but verify" carefully. This approach applies when the outcome is more important than the relationship. If the relationship is more important, use accountability fueled approaches.
  13. Trust isn't something you "have," it's something you create. Trust isn't a light switch; it's an ongoing decision, process, and a way of operating. Trust is created incrementally over time, and grown or diminished through daily actions.
  14. If you want engagement focus on trust creation. Engagement, innovation, and discretionary efforts happen when people work in trust-pockets, i.e. work groups with trust currency between them.
  15. Trust relationships are mutually beneficial. Building trust is about building relationships, and genuine relationships benefit both parties.

It's not your age, degree, background or title that will get you great results; it's your actions that build trust currency. The number one characteristic people want in the people who work with and for them is trustworthiness. When your behaviors consistently demonstrate you are worthy of the trust of those you lead, then engagement, innovation, natural followership and great results can happen.

More tips about workplace trust:

You'll find more tips and how-tos in my book: Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation