How to build trust as a leader10 Oct 2016
Among the most important skills a leader must have is the ability to build trust. Whether it’s with employees, customers or other stakeholders, great leaders are always highly trusted.
Even with communication skills training, building trust should be a systematic process.
You may have learnt about developing the best strategy and a compelling vision while attending quality leadership training. However, without the trust of others, you will not be able to translate this into the effective results you want.
Why is trust so important?
Leaders who have the capability to inspire trust in stakeholders can develop better employee retention, productivity and even revenue.
In fact, trust is so important to a business environment, Australian employees only find integrity more important when it comes to leadership traits, according to a report from Sunsuper. Yet, the same report also found that less than half of all Australian employees trust their immediate managers, and less than a quarter trust upper management.
So if trust is important, what can leaders do to foster it among stakeholders?
The three dimensions to trust
Speaking to the Kellogg School of Management, Kent Grayson – faculty coordinator of The Trust Project – said he believes managers are too dependent on their intuition when building trust.
“We tend to build trust by intuition – in everyday life and in the business world. That usually works OK, especially for experienced business professionals,” he said. “But even seasoned managers who build trust only by intuition may be missing opportunities to leverage trust more effectively – with employees, customers, and business partners.”
So what is the alternative? Well, managers and leaders could approach trust building through a systematic framework. This is made easy by the fact that researchers have distinguished three dimensions to trust:
- Capability – The first dimension relates to the abilities and competencies of a person. We trust people we know can do their jobs and do them well.
- Integrity – Without honesty, trusting relationships cannot be founded. Lies and betrayal are the antithesis of trust.
- Benevolence – Being able to trust someone follows from the belief that the person has your best interests at the forefront of their mind.
Managers should use these three metrics to measure the trusting relationships with their direct reports as well as other stakeholders. By taking a systematic approach to building trust, managers and leaders can ensure they put everything they have learnt from management training in Melbourne to the test.