6 Strategies for Building Trust

In the most recent episode of the Entreleadership Podcast, Christy Wright interviews Steven M.R. Covey about trust. Trust is an unseen force that is contagious. It can spread like wildfire. So can it's foil, distrust. Everything that you do as a leader builds trust or builds distrust. I've learned some important things about trust that were reinforced by listening to that podcast episode. Here are my seven tips for building trust.
  1. Positive Intentions. As we learned in TP11 with Melinda Miller, it is very powerful to assume positive intentions. I've written about story lines before. We all have them, and when we assume the best in people we are able to have less stress, more productivity, and more happiness.
  2. Start with Trust, Restrict as Trust is Lost. It is better to start with trust with people. When it comes to educators, we entrust them to be with students alone, all day long. If we just start there, that is a huge amount of trust. Some other forms of "accountability" that are popular right now are really demeaning when you compare how much trust we give them on a day-to-day basis. If you start to realize that you can't trust someone, then you can start reigning them in.
  3. Release as Trust is Gained. If you do have a reason to distrust an employee, and they start to prove that you can trust them, celebrate that with them and give them a little autonomy back. That will help them understand that there is salvation, and they don't have to live fearing that they will never be successful.
  4. Tell People where They Stand. One thing that is super scary is not knowing what your boss thinks of you. You shouldn't find opportunities to tear people down, but if you are concerned about people not having your trust, tell them. Tell them how they can earn it back, then let them earn it back. But don't distrust them and never tell them. This is a hard conversation, but every single time I have given negative feedback people with the intent to help, people have responded positively. When it is clear from how I communicate to them that they are never going to gain my trust again, they respond poorly. Pretty simple, yet very hard to do well. If you hold a grudge after someone has done what you required to have them earn back your trust, it is going to be so hard to overcome that so that they trust you again!
  5. Be Willing to Let Go of What Doesn't Matter, for the sake of trust. When you delegate something, be sure to set clear expectations, but trust that the person is going to do their best and allow them some creativity to do what they want. You'll have much more success and they'll buy into it a lot more. For example, I asked a teacher to create a Teacher of the Year PowerPoint background for a movie I was going to create, and told her my idea, but let her do her thing. It came out way better than I thought it would, she got some great recognition, and I was able to let her shine. I didn't want a black background, but the color of the background didn't matter at all. What mattered was that she was able to create something amazing, and I was able to let her. There is no place for ego in leadership. 
  6. Start with Why. Just because this is the last tip doesn't mean it is the least important. In fact, according to Simon Sinek, it is the single most important thing you can do. You inspire trust when you tell people why we are doing things. When the why is lost, people have no vision. To bring this full circle, Dave Ramsey (Entreleadership) often quotes Proverbs 29:18:
"Where there is no vision the people perish."
I hope these tips help you become a better leader and build trust with your faculty.

Have a Good Life.