10 Ways to Build Trust on Your Team

May 5, 2014 — Leave A Comment


“He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted.” ~ Lao Tzu

If you’re a leader, I don’t have to tell you that when it comes to leading a team, trust matters…a lot. As Samuel Chand, author of Cracking Your Church’s Culture, has said, “The most powerful features of an organizational culture are trust and respect. With them, almost any problem can be resolved, or at least people learn valuable lessons from difficult experiences, and in the process even learn to trust each other more. But without trust and respect, even the smallest molehill morphs into an Everest.”

So as a leader, how do you build trust on your team? Here are 10 ways I recommend:

1. Go first. No matter what you’re asking your team to do, you must do it first. Lead the way. If you want them to follow you, then give them an example worth following.

2. Tell the truth. Kindness counts, but don’t use it as an excuse to sugarcoat the truth. Be honest and direct, even when the truth may hurt a team member’s feelings, or make you look bad. If you can’t reveal the full truth of a situation for ethical or legal reasons, be honest about that, too.

3. Champion your people. Pat them on the back. Tell them you’re glad they’re on the team. Encourage them to stretch. Say thank you several times a day…and mean it. Be grateful for your team members, and make sure they know you are.

4. Ask for the team’s input before you make a decision. Work to fully understand alternative viewpoints; don’t just dismiss them. Give your people the privilege of being able to change your mind.

5. Practice vulnerability. Admit when you mess up. Ask for forgiveness. When something a team member does hurts you, tell them. As much as it depends on you, keep the relational space around you clean. When team members confront you about ways you’ve hurt them, don’t get defensive. Instead, get curious. Be willing to humble yourself, and listen. Your people are your teachers, too.

6. Do excellent work. Do your best work every day. Keep deadlines. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. Pay attention to quality, not just speed or quantity. Come through. Be reliable.

7. Develop yourself. Always be growing ~ as a leader, and a human being. Seek out your blind spots, and learn to overcome them. Develop new competencies. Pursue mastery in leadership, and in life.

8. Never run from conflict. Rather, learn to engage it transformationally. Understand your preferred conflict styles, but learn to use them all, according to the need of the moment.

9. Learn the difference between giving someone responsibility for something, and giving them authority over it. Always be clear which one you’re giving away. When you give someone authority over an area, take your hands off and let them lead, even if they don’t do it the same way you would.

10. Don’t overwork your people. Rather, be an advocate for maintaining a healthy life balance. Encourage limits on weekly work hours. Encourage your people to speak up when their workload becomes overwhelming, and to ask for what they need.


11. Play together. Provide opportunities on a regular basis for you and your team to let loose, have fun, and laugh together. Go see a movie. Go skiing. Give away fun awards for doing something good, or for doing something silly. Set up crazy “theme days” at the office. Click here for a free PDF of other fun workplace ideas by David Koutsoukis.

What other ideas would you add to the list?

Michael Warden

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