Trust is the foundation of strong leadership. As simple as that may sound, it’s the truth. Relationships founded on trust result in credibility, loyalty, and mutual respect. When trust is the currency in a workplace, employees are motivated to build authentic relationships and feel committed to each other and their leaders and express a sense of ownership and pride in the work they do.
The result: they feel empowered to work from the heart and contribute to the company’s shared vision. But while it may sound simple, building trust takes a lot of effort, time, unwavering commitment, and a defined set of core values. To become an uncommon leader who builds trust and maximizes your influence and impact, you must first lead with values that align with your behaviours and actions.
To establish trust, an organization needs to address any potential issues that may be holding it back from achieving a highly motivated and productive workforce. Toxicity, destructive conflict and poor communication could be the obvious factors; however, other existing problems may have much deeper roots.
Today, some offices are still ruled like an iron-fisted hierarchy, where value is placed more on a person’s rank than their actual day-to-day achievements. Such an environment is demoralizing to many hardworking employees. As Simon Sinek shares in “Leaders Eat Last”, leaders within an organization can empower their entire workforce by changing how everyone is treated.
Sinek explains how one organization treated employees on the factory floor with the same privileges administrative and managerial staff enjoyed. Time clocks and bells were removed, floor workers had more freedom, and payphones were replaced with regular phones so staff could use them freely as needed. These employees felt valued and heard, and, without coercion or pressure, everyone started to collaborate more naturally. In such a setting, work becomes less of an obligation and more of a source of pride and personal merit.
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Lead by example
“Do as I say, not as I do” seems to be the philosophy of most managers. Leaders who want to maximize their influence don’t subscribe to this philosophy, instead, they let their behaviour set an example for their staff. In other words, they “walk the talk”.
Uncommon leaders consistently support their staff, help them understand what it takes to realistically achieve their goals, and provide constructive feedback and the resources necessary to help them along the way. They also hold themselves accountable first, keep their word and acknowledge their limitations. What’s more, they’re not afraid to admit when they fail or make a mistake.
By setting this precedent, these leaders encourage their staff to take chances and learn without the fear of retribution so they can become more confident in their capabilities and more courageous to take risks.
Transparent and clear communication
When communication is clear and honest, employees feel safer talking about obstacles and challenges and how to address them appropriately. The opportunity to learn and grow within this environment encourages them to weigh in with their expertise, and they consequently buy in more readily to decisions made by upper management. Such behaviours further bolster the foundation of trust that is so critical for successfully achieving mutual goals and living out the company vision.
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Uncommon leaders show their humanity by listening to others and, when possible, providing thoughtful responses. They appreciate individual staff members and get to know them on a personal level, creating a positive and personal bond. As a result of this perceived self-worth, employees feel validated and become more connected to their work.
In good faith
With so many distractions coming at us from all directions, it can be arduous to stay focused on our tasks. According to the results of one survey, 48% of employers attribute low productivity to distractions from social media and smartphones; this causes morale to slip because others have to pick up the slack and deadlines can be missed.
With stats like this, many managers feel the need to watch over their employees’ shoulders. This is the wrong approach. Instead, it’s better to communicate effective policies and expectations of staff and to set realistic timelines for deliverables while establishing good metrics. Establishing this level of trust is critical in a hybrid or completely remote work environment.
Learning and growing
With more younger people entering the workforce, there’s now a focus on learning new skills and growing within the organization. This challenge can be met in several ways. One way is to maximize corporate intellectual assets by pairing senior and junior staff members and promoting peer-to-peer coaching.
Managers can also encourage employees to schedule some time each month to log on to the company’s learning management system and enroll in various training courses, explaining that professional development is part of their work so employees don’t feel guilty for non-billable time spent on personal growth.
Finally, it never hurts to establish a corporate book club or library where employees can stay up to date on the latest industry news and workplace best practices. A learning environment gives employees direct access to the professional development they need to succeed, which results in higher quality work being completed on time and within budget.
Recognize, praise and reward exemplary behaviour
When employees demonstrate exemplary behaviour, call it out. Whether you send an email to the team or company or spotlight their efforts in an internal publication or at an employee gathering, even virtual ones, recognizing and praising good behaviours reinforces the like and creates an incentive for others to follow. It also establishes fairness and shows that anyone can do a good job and get rewarded for it. Exemplary employees become ambassadors, living and modelling a company’s core values and vision in the work they do.
Tell the story
Use a company’s social media profile to develop and market its brand when recruiting new hires. When celebrating a philanthropic or community engagement, recent client success stories or an internal social event, moderate and encourage employees to tell their story — after all, they will be your greatest ambassadors.
Bringing it all together
Employees are proud when their organization is successful; they also enjoy an environment where corporate values are practiced in the daily culture of the office, remote or on-site. And with job satisfaction and trust comes loyalty which leads to employees working from the heart and delivering optimal results for the company.
This all starts from the top and trickles down. When managers lead by example and demonstrate the same behaviour they expect of others, they earn the respect of employees. This is how managers walk the talk and continuously leverage positive influence to impact others and raise the bar for themselves and their people.
If you want to maximize your influence to lead with clarity and influence to impact your people, ask me how I can help you develop your emotional intelligence and learn the habits to transform into a trustworthy leader.
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