Good leaders continually think about ways to get their team to be more effective. They experiment with tools and apps that will make the team’s workflow more efficient. They move people around and give them different responsibilities until they get the balance just right. All these things help to create better results and increased production. Good leaders get good results thinking like this, but you don’t want to be a good leader. You want to be a great leader and great leaders take a different approach…. they build trust.
A great leader doesn’t begin by asking, “How can I get better results?”, their first question is, “How can I cultivate greater trust?”. They recognize that the best opportunity they have to do truly great work will come as a byproduct of trust-filled relationships. Trust is like the oil that keeps the engine running smoothly and efficiently. It keeps the friction low and helps all the moving parts to keep working mile after mile. We can tweak every system and have the coolest tools, but if we don’t have trust, we will end up with a team of burned out people. We can accomplish really cool things together, but if we end up hating each other at the end, what good have we done? Trust gives us the best of both worlds. It gives us the highest possible long-term results and it builds life-giving God-honoring relationships in the process.
There will always be friction, but you want to spend as little energy as you can managing dysfunctional relationships and pour the maximum amount of resources into your team’s most critical mission.
So, here are 5 ways to build trust with your team:
Learn to translate
Communication is the foundational building block of trust. Without it we don’t have any relationships. It’s easy to assume that because most of our team members speak the same language, that they understand one another. But we both know that things still get lost in translation. That’s why it is our responsibility as leaders to help our team members translate. We have to look at places where friction is happening and seek to understand each person’s perspective. This helps build trust with our team members and to trust one another more. One of my favorite translation tools is the Clifton StrengthsFinder. It helps everyone learn why their team mates respond in certain ways and creates pathways for collaboration instead of conflict. Assessments like this always help to create a common language for team members to understand one another again.
Say “No” To Your Last-Minute Ideas
As often as possible, we need to communicate early. Some of you are truly experts at this, but this is an area where I have struggled as a leader. I was a last-minute, “wing-it”, leader, but I found that I hit the leadership ceiling quickly. One of the fastest ways to burn people out is to throw things on them at the last minute. They will roll with you for a little while, but they won’t stick around long. If you want to build trust with your team, you have to do the hard work of thinking through the details thoroughly and do it as far in advance as you can. You will even have to say no to many of your last-minute brilliant ideas. The trust of your team is more valuable than the wow-factor that any last-minute stroke of genius will bring. You believe in moving with the Spirit in the moment and I do to, but we must also believe in Holy Spirit inspired preparation and communicate early. This will build heaps of trust over time. Then, when that truly-brilliant last minute idea does come, your team will jump at the opportunity to bring it to life.
Check Your Inbox
Your inbox may be your single greatest untapped source of trust. All those emails you haven’t replied to are like a gold mine of trust sitting right there in front of you. We all have a love/hate relationship with email, but it’s not going away any time soon. Email is still the primary mode of communication in most organizations. If you want to build trust with your leaders and your team, commit to getting better at email.If you want to build trust with your leaders and your team, commit to getting better at email. Click To Tweet
Expectations and Accountability
Teams that thrive with trust don’t have one without the other. Expectations without accountability undermine your leadership and empty your words of their power. Accountability without clear expectations is manipulation. It’s like having the rule book, but not telling anyone what’s inside until they cross the line. Imbalance in either direction leads to an erosion of trust. You can’t create a thriving culture if you don’t have trust. Make the expectations as clear as possible and follow through on accountability. This will supercharge your team’s level of trust.
Trust can be cultivated. We have to stop thinking of it as something that just happens organically over time. Yes, in some cases it does, but great leaders don’t leave it to chance. Having a high level of trust within your team is just too valuable. How do you build trust? The most important thing is that you don’t wait until you need trust to start thinking about it. The farmer doesn’t wake up one day before harvest and expect to walk out to a field of ripe crops. No, the farmer makes an investment months and even years beforehand, knowing that the time will come when he will need the harvest and he trusts it will be ready. The same goes for us. We have to be patient. Invest now in your team so that when the time comes you have an ample harvest of trust when you need it most.
The people you lead are looking to you and this includes your volunteers. They are willing to trust you, so be intentional and build trust with them. You’ll never regret spending resources on this. Trust always pays out exponentially over time.