12 Practical Steps to Leading with High Trust

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

We’ve talked about how high-trust relationships start with you, the person who wants high trust, giving trust to another person without knowing whether you’ll get anything in return. But what does it look like on a practical level to communicate trust?

People will believe that you trust them when you take time to know them personally, you respect them, and you let them have influence. Below are some practical ways you can show trust to individuals and create a larger team culture of trust.

Listen, Learn, and Like. It goes a long way with people when you sincerely listen to them with the intent to learn. If you want to give trust, show interest. Find out where they’re coming from, especially when you disagree. This communicates that you assume they’re a reasonable, well-intentioned person. Find something you like about them. You don’t have to become best friends, but it should be your goal to like them.

Relentlessly pursue their strengths. Figure out what they are good at and what comes easily for them, and draw that out. Draw attention to it. Give them opportunities to shine. The more they work in their strengths, the more value they add to the team and the more they value their work.

Create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) with goals and commitments from the employee and from their boss. Create a game plan for growing, learning, and adding more value.

Share your leadership responsibilities. Give your team members assignments to lead certain aspects of your team. Let them run meetings, plan events, coordinate customer site visits, or participate in the planning and budgeting process. Let go of the reigns a bit and give them some freedom.

Get over yourself. Let’s be honest. One of the key reasons why you may not like relinquishing control to someone else is that you believe you are better, smarter, or more qualified than they are. Stop that. How did you get where you are?  Likely by someone better, smarter, and more qualified getting out of your way.

Allow growth and expect failures.  Not everyone succeeds on the first try and nobody succeeds always. Be willing to push people to grow, and in doing so, expect failure. Celebrate it. Failure is education, and if we don’t fail we won’t learn. As Henry Ford said, those who never make mistakes work for those who do.

Expose them to the larger process. I intentionally introduce my boys to people and concepts that are above their current level of life. They might not understand a conversation about balancing a checkbook, but they’re seeing what it means to be an adult. The same holds true in business. Exposing your team members to decision makers, stakeholders, clients, macro-level discussions, and other aspects of your organization that are above their current job description communicates that you trust them, you expect them to advance, and you’re invested in their future.

Ask your team for ideas. Hold innovation bursts where you brainstorm ideas for improvements, find opportunities for efficiencies, create new ideas, and improve old ones. Collect these ideas and implement something. If you can’t implement something, let them know, but if you can, do!

Get good at defining projects. Give your team projects with defined time frames and goals, make sure they have the resources they need, and then set them loose. Let them know what you desire as an outcome, but let them figure out how to get there. This allows you to give more freedom and them to take initiative, while minimizing frustration for all involved.

Work when and where it makes sense. Not everyone can or should work from home (or at the lake, or in the evening, or from a coffee shop). But when it makes sense, allow flexibility in how your team gets their work done. Trust them to manage their results.

Look for opportunities to say yes. Instead of saying no to your team’s unusual requests, instead think, “what needs to happen so I can say yes?”

Support their passions. If you support volunteerism and corporate giving, come alongside your team members and allow them to direct where you give. Let them volunteer for a cause they care about, or provide some level of match to their existing giving.

Lead Well, Lead Often and LEAD STRONG!

richard-fagerlinRichard Fagerlin is the founder and president of Peak Solutions.

With over 20 years of leadership and organizational development experience, he is a sought-after speaker, consultant and facilitator. Richard travels internationally helping clients intentionally create a culture of high trust and to be on purpose with developing leaders at all levels of the organization. In 2015 & 2016 Richard was named one of the top 100 thought leaders on Trust in the world.

A Colorado native, Richard enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains with his wife and four boys. His favorite team is whichever one his four boys are currently playing on. He is active in his community while serving on the board of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and Mill City Church.

(Scott’s addition: Richard is also the author of a really good book, “Trustology: The art and science of leading high-trust teams”.  It’s one of my personal favorites.  Learn more at www.trustologybook.com.)

Twitter:  @richardfagerlin   •   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardfagerlin


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