Leadership Courses – Build a Strong Foundation for Your Followers, by Allowing them to Trust You
Build a Strong Foundation for Your Followers, by Allowing them to Trust You
Building trust with people can take time, destroying trust can happen in milliseconds. Any great leader knows that they must always act in a trustworthy fashion toward everyone around them, especially their followers. Trust is the foundation of great leadership; it is the glue that holds any team or organisation together. People may tolerate poor decisions from a leader in the short term, but any leader, who repeatedly breaks the trust of their followers, can never continue to lead and positively influence them.
When any leader makes any commitment or promise to their followers, they must be certain they can deliver on those promises. Too many “MANAGERS” make unrealistic promises to their “SUBORDINATES” about incentives, working condition changes or salary reviews, when they do not have the authority to make these offers. When they are unable to deliver on these promises, they break their trust with their team. This trust is very difficult or impossible to rebuild.
Trust is fragile and it may not event take something as severe as the situation above to break trust with your followers. Trust is built on a framework of consistency and a feeling that the leader will always act in the best interests of their followers. I was leading a great team in one of my businesses a few years ago; we were enjoying great success and were a tightknit team, who supported each other. I became a bit complacent and I made three decisions in concession, which affected the team, without following my usual style of consulting them and getting their support and buy in, before I made the decisions. All three decisions were sound and in the long run would be beneficial to the team and the business.
Despite the correctness and validity of my decision’s, I realised that I had not acted consistently and had excluded my team leaders from the decision making process. They had not had time, as was the usual practice in the past, to convey the message to their followers and this had created uncertainty in the teams. I quickly realised my mistake, got the all the teams together, apologised and explained my decisions and how they would benefit the business and the teams. The forgiveness from all the team leaders and team members was not instant, but in time we got back on track again. When it comes to being a great leader, there are no shortcuts; you must be consistent, no matter how well things are going or how long you have been leading a team.
All leaders start off with a pocket full of change or trust. Every time they make a good decision, they put a coin into their pocket or they build trust with their team. Every time they make a bad decision or compromise trust, they take a coin out of their pocket. If leaders continue to break trust with their followers they will quickly empty their pocket of coins and they will no longer have any influence within their teams. A really bad decision or a major break of trust, can immediately empty any leaders (MANAGERS) pocket immediately.
The way to build trust as a leader is by consistently exemplifying competence and acting consistently toward your followers. Your team will forgive occasional mistakes based on ability, especially if you are open and have built up connection with them. They will even give a leader a chance to build up connection with them. One thing they will never forgive, is a slip in character. Even occasional slips in character will be fatal to any relationship a leader has with their followers. Character makes trust possible and as you know trust makes leadership possible. The way a leader to builds and maintains trust, is by consistently exhibiting competence, connection and character. There are no shortcuts to this process.
When you act as a leader, it is as if your followers agree to go on a long journey with you. The success of the trip will depend on your competence, how well you connect with your followers and your strength of character. When all three of components are in place the journey just seems to get better, the further you travel. If any of the three elements are missing or flawed, the journey gets more and more difficult the further you travel.
Trust is the foundation upon which any leader’s ability to positively influence their followers is built. To become a great leader ensure that you never break the trust with your followers. The only way for a leader to earn and maintain trust in the long term, is to earn the respect of their followers by consistently making sound well thought out decisions, quickly admitting their mistakes and by always putting the interests of the team ahead of their own personal agenda.
Author: Andrew Horton Leadership Training and Team Building