Leader and follower dynamics are very interesting and very complex. I have experienced quite an interesting paradox in leadership behavior and dynamics. Often leaders have an unbalanced one-sided view on trust. Trust is so pivotal to individual and composite relationships. Trust revolves around being able to complete task as well as having integrity and being examined as trustworthy. It is not the follower’s burden to prove or create trust in the relationship. Or is it? A better scenario with trust occurs when the leader takes full responsibility for the onset of trust in a team or group. The most effective leaders understand that trust and respect are earned by authentically walking the talk. Most people can spot a fake a mile away. Trust building behaviors are demonstrative. Characteristics like approachability, open communication, competency, consistency, active listening, and effective delegation are the precursors of authentic trust between leaders and followers. These qualities radiate from the inside out of the leader. Many times, trust is viewed in juxtaposition. Of course, I am not advocating keeping score or a tallying system with each other, but I am advocating a healthy level of reciprocity in building and facilitating sustainable trust in leader follower relations. In an effort to help leaders solve the challenge of low trust in a team, please allow me to offer six considerations (questions) to assess your trust quotient as a leader.
- Do my followers believe what I say?
- Am I consistent?
- Do they perceive me as consistent to execute what I say?
- Do they perceive me as “looking out” for them?
- Is my feedback constructive rather than critical and/or personal?
- Am I direct enough in my communication style asking for clarity and specifics without making assumptions or causing others to make them?
Trust is so foundational to healthy team building and productive results. Even in teams when disagreements are present, trust can be the leveling factor for the team particularly if the leader will foster discussion around the issue. There are times when we disagree with the leader. Yet if we have trust, we know the leader has the best interest of the composite picture at hand.
Name one quality that builds your trust in a leader and share why.