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Trust is not Optional

Optimize Blog - November 20, 2014 - 0 comments

When considering the great leaders within business there is one core attribute that they possess that sets them apart. That attribute is trust. They are all highly trusted. These leaders can have an engaging vision, a well-considered strategy, excellent communication skills and innovative insight but if the people didn’t trust them, then they would never get the results that they consistently achieve. In our experience leaders who inspire trust deliver greater productivity, higher levels of morale, better than average employee retention, innovation, loyalty, and most importantly better than average revenue. Mistrust on the other hand fosters low morale, low productivity, lost sales, and high employee turnover.
One of the biggest mistakes we come across that leaders make is the assumption that others will trust them simply by virtue of their title. Trust however is not a given nor a right and therefore must be earned. Further, this trust cannot be achieved overnight, it takes time and not a little effort. Being in the spotlight as the leader means that people are making judgments about you constantly; the degree that people believe in your ability, consistency, integrity, and commitment to deliver is critical.
It takes effort and constant attention so here are some tips to help you build the trust essential for you to become the great leader that you aspire to be:
• Avoid ambiguity. People trust what has been made clear to them and distrust the ambiguous. Be clear about your vision, purpose, expectations, and priorities. Being unclear about expectations destroys productivity, creates waste and undermines commitment and engagement.
• Be a Team Player. The colour of the shirt needs to be more important than the name on the back. In other words think beyond yourself and do what is required to make the team and team members successful. After all, it’s not all about you……
• Deliver Results. Few things build trust quicker than delivering actual results. People need to see outcomes and outcomes achieved in the right way. Without the results you promised, people won’t trust you. You need to be an honest contributor who delivers real results.
• Demonstrate Character. People notice those who do what is right ahead of what is easy. Leaders who have built this foundation consistently do what needs to be done when it needs to be done, whether they feel like doing it or not. It is the work of a leader to do what is right rather than what is easy. So, when choices present themselves always do the right thing.
• Be Consistent. Nobody trusts someone who vacillates and continually latches on to the latest management fad or chapter that they have read in the next big leadership tome. Standing for a few key concepts and core values ensures that people see a consistent approach to decision making. The fundamental things done consistently make for a higher level of trust and better results.
• Be Ruthless and Relentless. Great leaders are relentless in the pursuit of the goals. Despite setbacks, roadblocks and complexity they relentlessly pursue what needs to be done staying resilient, consistent and focused. Great leaders are ruthless in doing the right thing regardless of how easy it is to choose another course.
• Be Humble. The humble and teachable person keeps learning new ways of doing things and stays current on ideas and trends. Great leaders possess the ability to learn amid chaos. Arrogance prevents a person from growing, and this undermines others’ confidence in them.
• Be Empathetic. Trust is fundamentally about relationships, and relationships are best built by establishing a genuine connection with others. Find out what motivates others – what makes them tick. Take time to understand them and adapt your approach accordingly. The great leader recognizes that everyone cannot be treated the same and adapts their style accordingly.
Building trust requires time, effort, focus and character. Trust cannot be faked. While it may take a considerable amount of time to achieve trusted status it can be lost instantly through a moment of carelessness.
Trust affects a leader’s impact and the company’s bottom line more than any other single thing so make sure that you are investing the appropriate level effort in developing trust within your organization.

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