Tell me if you agree with this statement: For any human relationship to thrive, it has to be founded on trust.

If you agree, then know that it's really no different in the workplace, especially in the relationship between boss and employee. The best company cultures, where collaboration is humming and the needle is moving on performance, demonstrate a high degree of trust. And trust starts with the people you've placed in leadership positions.

Great Place to Work -- the global research consultancy that partners with Fortune to conduct the annual study of those "best companies" -- has already confirmed that trust is the human behavior you cannot afford not to have. It found that 92 percent of employees believe that their managers are people they can trust.

Not every person in charge of another person or team has the awareness to know which behaviors produce the kind of trust that motivates and inspires others. For those that do, it is a continuous journey of personal development. In their journey, they'll most likely find that without these things being displayed day in and day out, trust is absent.

Here are five leadership habits that lead to trust:

1. Be willing to trust and believe in your people first.

Conventional thinking says that people have to earn trust, and if they violate it, it's difficult to earn it back, right?  But it has been found, in high-performing work cultures, that leaders are willing to give trust to their followers, as a gift, even before it's earned.

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey says that a team with high trust will produce results faster and at lower cost. From his studies, he concluded that trust is developed from having a belief in your people first -- their strengths, abilities, and commitment. 

2. Lead from humility, not hubris.

Good to Great author Jim Collins has probably dedicated more time to researching and writing about humble leaders than any other topic in his landmark study of Level 5 Leadership. If humility is a word that makes you cringe, consider the evidence. Collins has stated:

Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious -- but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.

As mega pastor Rick Warren said in The Purpose Driven Life, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less."

In essence, humble leaders achieve greatness without arrogance. They shift from ego to humility, which can drastically alter the outcome to their advantage.

3. Give the team the credit.

Leaders who deflect the spotlight away from themselves and allow their team members to shine in it gain respect and trust at an alarming rate. There is something very liberating for employees when they receive credit.

4. Seek input.

Effective communication isn't just about talking; it is also the ability to listen and understand what's happening on the other side of the fence. Leaders that you can trust seek others' input on how something is working, or how they are showing up in their leadership path. They might ask: "How am I doing?" or "Can I get your input or opinion on this strategy?" 

5. Share information.

Information is power and one of the best ways to build a sense of trust in people. It may mean disclosing information that is considered privileged, but it communicates trust and a sense of "hey, we're all in this together."

Published on: Dec 8, 2017
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