Leadership Secrets to Building Trust

There has been so much written about employee engagement, such as the recent research from the performance management company Gallup and how to build good company culture.   According to Gallup, today’s employees view work differently and expect more out of a job and company than leaders and managers traditionally have provided.   If I really had to identify the foundation for success of leaders who have an amazing company culture, the answer is trust.  

Trust is the answer

Building trust doesn’t happen overnight.  But leaders at all levels can take important steps to cultivate a more trusting climate that generates business results.  Here is a list of leadership secrets to help you build trust at work.

10 Leadership Secrets

  1. Be good at what you do.  Leaders know that competence is king at work and it builds performance trust. The competent performance of your job is a litmus test for believability.
  2. Show true passion for your work. Passion comes from an inner desire, determination, and drive. For many, it’s about making a difference or contributing to the whole. It shows up softly in some leaders; loudly in others, but it’s easily noticeable by anyone around them.
  3. Operate with self-awareness. Leaders pay attention to their words and actions, operating with self-alignment and behavioral integrity. Leaders don’t make promises they can’t keep, or commit to what they can’t control.
  4. Care about your people. Leaders are kind, considerate and have a compassionate heart. They see people as individuals, not with gender, generational, or stereotypical biases.
  5. Want the best for others. Leaders bring out the best in others, helping them apply and develop their strengths.  They challenge thinking and provide opportunities to help others reach their goals.
  6. Listen.  Leaders don’t listen so they can talk; they listen so they can learn.  By withholding judgment, being present, and engaging in real dialogue, leaders embrace differences, create openness, and facilitate connection.
  7. Have perspective. In the real-world of what matters in life, trust-building leaders have perspective. Certainly there are crises at work, but they don’t over react nor blame others. They step back and put setbacks in context.
  8. Manage direction and work, not people. Leaders help their people see the vision.  They leave the fun in work by setting direction, not dictating details. They clear hurdles, reduce bureaucracy and make it easier, not harder, for people to get their work done.
  9. Say thank you. Leaders appreciate, value, and acknowledge the efforts and contributions of those they work with. In the words of Arnold H. Glasgow, “A good leader takes a little more than his share of blame; a little less than his share of credit.” They do both.
  10. See beyond self. Leaders know it is not about their promotion, bonus, or achievement; it’s about something bigger. They link the why behind the what, and help others view the landscape of purpose. We all need a reason to get up in the morning. These are the people who enable us see why and how our work, does indeed, matter.

Effective leaders nurture and grow trust in many ways.  One thing is certain: leaders who build trust are magnets for the best talent, ideas, and contributions.  

But, the real secret is …

And that may be the real secret to employee engagement.

Trust me.


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