For over a year and a half now, the world has been shrouded in uncertainty. No one anticipated disruption of the scale that Covid-19 brought about and as a result, no one knew how to handle it. Leaders across the world were left grappling with how to navigate an unprecedented present and a future that offered no clear trajectory or certainty.
It is in times like this when trust in the leadership gets tested. In a world where no one knows what’s coming next, how do you as a leader inspire and justify the trust of a group that looks to you for direction? More importantly, how do you trust your own decisions on which lie the future of both your organization and your people?
The dictionary definition of Trust is the firm belief in the dependability, certainty, or ability of someone or something. It comes from a space of confidence in something or someone, which leads to a sense of predictability or safety. To navigate a world which for the foreseeable future is likely to be full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, how do you continue to build trust with your team.
It all starts with Self–Trust
Each one of us has been through hardship in the period that has immediately gone by. These may have been setbacks that you experienced on account of health, family, financial, or career-related setbacks or even setbacks with adapting to the new way of work and life. To build trust with others, the key starting point is really to be able to trust yourself. Very often leaders or managers may face a situation when there’s a need to present a front that is confident and calm, but one is often struggling with internal challenges. So what are some things that you can focus on to build a sense of greater Self-Trust?
A mindset based on Self – Trust is one where one believes that they will be able to handle whatever comes their way. One can rely on their abilities and there is a deep sense of knowing that they can deal with life as it comes.
It is linked to a sense of Agility or Adaptability, or not getting rigid or fixed in one’s point of view. It is linked to being open to learning, being open to other points of view, and at the same time having confidence in your own opinion or abilities.
It also comes from a space of self-awareness, knowing yourself at a deeper level, an ability to question your belief systems when needed, and taking care of your needs and wants. Self -Trust is also linked to overcoming dependence of any sort and building resilience in oneself.
By building these within oneself is where the journey of trust begins.
How Interpersonal Trust begets positive outcomes
High trust relationships generally make work and life easier. People spend less time questioning intent or actions and are mentally freer to focus on outcomes. It is likely to lead to higher performance, less attrition and absenteeism, and greater commitment. Interpersonal trust in any relationship within or outside of an organizational setting relies on four key aspects.
The first aspect is that of intent. People trust those who they believe care about them as people, and not merely as organizational resources. Do you as a leader have the true well-being of your team at heart? The intent is often felt and comes across in subtle ways in the words you choose or your actions. As a leader be aware of your intent, be true to it, and function from a space
where you genuinely care.
The second aspect is that of integrity. Your actions convey integrity. Do you walk the talk? Do you practice what you preach? Can people rely on you to go the distance? Do you work with your team in the hour of need? Do you have your team’s back? Are you an unbiased leader? These are some questions that will help you think through how to strengthen integrity and let your team know that they can rely on you.
The third aspect of trust is around your capabilities. Do you add value to your team in terms of work outcomes? Can you guide them on the next step of their career? Are your learning and knowledge up to date? Remember if your team sees you as someone who knows what they are doing, they are more likely to trust your decisions and follow through.
The fourth aspect of building trust as a leader is around outcomes or results. Do you deliver as a leader? What is your commitment to performance? What is your track record of success? Remember consistency and visible outcomes build reliability, so think about how you are delivering as a leader.
Trust is a Two-Way Street
So how do you start with building trust with your team? The easiest way to build trust is to trust others! If you express trust towards your team, chances are your team will reciprocate. Unless there is a reason to doubt someone, it helps to start from a space of trust.
To sum up, trust is the basic ingredient of any strong relationship.
A leader is only as good as the relationships that he builds with his team to inspire action.
In a world that is straddled with uncertainty, to lead people to success, it must start from a space of self-trust and move towards building high trust relationships with others.
About the Authors.
Ms. Shalini Duggal, has more than 18 years of work experience in the area of Talent Transformation. She has a PhD in Psychology from IIT Delhi and has completed her MA from Delhi University and BA (hons.) from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, both in the area of Psychology. She has worked extensively in the areas of Leadership Development, Organization Development & Leadership Assessment across industries such as Digital Imaging, IT, Consulting, Insurance & Education Management.