10 Ways to Build, or Destroy, Trust

One of the primary challenges of leadership is inspiring the trust of others. It is essential when you depend on others to help you achieve a shared goal. For others to follow you, they must see you as someone with positive intentions, whose word is reliable, and who follows through on commitments.

What is trust?
There are four components to trust:

  • Care: Showing benevolence and goodwill toward others, taking an interest in their well-being and goals
  • Credibility: Acting with honesty, integrity, and consistency
  • Competence: Having sufficient expertise to offer solutions and to deliver them
  • Commitment: Demonstrating a long-term orientation to the relationship rather than viewing it as transactional or temporary

Why is trust important?
Trust is the lubricant that makes relationships work smoothly. It is vital to attaining creating a productive and effective team or organization. If you want to have open communication, people must have confidence that bringing bad news won’t be punished. If you want  employees to learn, they must  be willing to make themselves vulnerable. If you want people to take risks, they must feel it is ok to make a mistake. Each of these depends on trust.

Ten Ways to Build Trust

  1. Self-disclosure: Be open about your motivations, concerns, and uncertainties.
  2. Honesty: Tell the truth about your beliefs and intentions.
  3. Build a personal connection: Get to know others and let them get to know you.
  4. Transparency: Share complete, timely, and accurate information.
  5. Encourage, don’t command: Assume that people want to do the right thing and expect that you can influence them without coercion.
  6. Take blame, give credit: Be accountable when things go wrong and provide recognition when things go well.
  7. Don’t play favorites: Give equal respect and attention to the needs of all team members.
  8. Live up to commitments: Do what you say you would by when you said you would.
  9. Be willing to learn and improve: Be open to new ideas and welcome challenges to your way of thinking.
  10. Show humility: Admit when you are wrong or have made a mistake.

Ten Ways to Destroy Trust

  1. Political maneuvering: Act with an eye toward gaining advantage or power over others.
  2. Self-seeking: Value your own interests ahead of others in a way that puts them at a disadvantage.
  3. Act unfairly: Show bias or capriciousness in decisions or behavior toward others.
  4. Withhold communication: Do not share information, solicit opinions or feedback, or respond directly to questions.
  5. Mislead or obfuscate: Deliberately say things that aren’t true or leave out pertinent facts in order to influence the opinions or feelings of others.
  6. Question others’ motives: Assume that people have ill-will or bad intentions.
  7. Ignore interpersonal aspect of relationships: Treat interactions with others as transactions to be completed rather than part of an ongoing association.
  8. Be manipulative: Conceal your actual intentions, show superficial charm or empathy, or feign sincerity.
  9. Bad-mouth others behind their backs: Be indiscreet in sharing your negative opinions of someone while refraining from sharing your view with the person directly.
  10. Fake having knowledge: Pretend to have the answers or project more certainty about facts than is warranted.
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