In his seminal book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Patrick Lencioni mentions the absence of trust as the first step downward from healthy team dynamics.
When someone on your team, in your organization, or in your family says, “I don’t trust you,” a meaningful relationship is on the downhill slide. Now I’m sure that quite a list of things could be created in order to build or regain trust that has been lost.
From my personal experience and observations as a coach and leader, here is a short list to facilitate both the building and regaining of the critical trust component in any team endeavor, whatever that endeavor might be:
1. KEEP YOUR WORD
If you told someone you would call them, then call them. If you said you would have what they requested on Friday, then have it on Friday. If you said you would meet them at a certain place/time, then be there and be on time. Believe me, when I say that simply being good for your word builds credibility and trust and, conversely, being a person who says one thing and does another on a consistent basis will cause a major trust leak in your relationships.
2. TELL THE TRUTH
Even if it hurts or causes embarrassment, tell the truth. If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to have a great memory. How many leaders have you known, read about or heard about that were caught in lie after lie. They were congenital liars and had perfected it to an art. They could lie right to your face and make you believe them (at least some of the time.)
Some leaders have gone to their graves believing their own lies, which they told themselves and others for years. It was lies that brought down former President Richard Nixon. It was years of lies that caused the demise of business leaders like Bernie Madoff. They lied to themselves, their families and their business associates.
3. BE TRANSPARENT
Be real and be open. Be who you are and don’t try to be someone else. Share as much as you can of your life, your mistakes, your weaknesses. I used to think that people would not respect me if I confessed sin and displayed weakness or if I said I didn’t know when asked a question. It took me years to understand that being vulnerable and transparent gained respect, not lost it.
4. OVER COMMUNICATE
In my opinion, it’s better to over communicate than to under communicate. Within reason, and not compromising sensitive information that simply cannot be shared, share as much and as often as you possibly can. Trust begins to fade when people think you are hiding something from them or covering something up.
5. UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVER RATHER THAN OVER PROMISE AND UNDER DELIVER
How many times have I heard someone say, “I’ll have it done by_____.” The day and time comes and goes and it’s not done. I have learned the hard way…if I promise, I will do it. Even if I have to stay up all night, I will do as promised.
Since I don’t relish the thought of staying up all night, I’m slow to make promises which I’m not reasonably sure (no matter how hard I’m pressured to promise) I can fulfill. This is especially true of children who have long memories of the broken promises their parents made to them. Not a legacy you want to leave!
What I often do now is ask, “When do you need this, at the latest?” Then I will think about it, pray abut it and look at my schedule to make a determination if it is possible. I’d rather say, “I will do my best to have it for you on_____, but cannot promise.” It’s part of being good for your word, which (sad to say) many leaders are not. It’s encouraging to see the face of someone light up when they got something earlier than promised. You can light up the faces of others, and save face yourself, by under promising and over delivering.
So, now it’s your turn! What would you add to this list? What, from your experience as a leader, have you learned that builds trust or regains lost trust?