One of the quickest ways to build trust in your leadership is create alignment between what you say and what you do. To walk your talk. Not some of the time--all of the time.
On the surface, that seems straightforward.
In reality? Not so simple.
You can send mixed messages to your people. You may not be aware that you do. And, if you're like thousands of leaders all over the world the mixed messages you send are unintentional.
For instance, one minute your words and actions say "I trust you." The next, you're unwittingly telling them: "Oh. I made a mistake. I really don't trust you."
Trust is reciprocal. You've got to extend it consistently to get it back.
To help you make sure you're not giving trust then taking it away, here are the five most common mixed messages you can start paying attention to:
1. Asking for innovation yet punishing mistakes
You want people to stretch. To take risks. To innovate.
Innovation can't happen without mistakes. They call it "the bleeding edge" for a reason. People's blood, sweat, and tears sometimes result only in the need for more blood, sweat, and tears. No person or team gets it right on the first try, every try. That's the risk of innovation.
If you're not open to mistakes, stop asking people to take the necessary risks to innovate.
If you are, then make it safe for people to make mistakes. Make it safe for them to be human. Open the door for them reap the benefits that come with the insight mistakes produce.
2. Delegating then micromanaging
Your growth as a leader depends on how well you support other people to grow. Delegating, if appropriately managed, is a powerful tool to support that growth. It creates opportunity.
Give people the resources, autonomy, responsibility, and authority they need to do the work you give them. Set them up to be successful.
Then, get out of their way. Check in to offer support. Be available to respond to their requests.
If you feel you must micromanage a project to get the results you need, you're not ready to delegate it.
3. Inadequately resourcing projects
You need the results a project/product/initiative promises. Yet, the resources to support the project aren't available. Sure, you could "shoestring" it. Ask people to stretch to absorb the extra workload for "the good of the company."
In the short term, that may work.
In the long term, it becomes questionable. People will burn out. They'll lose job satisfaction. They'll question why they should stick around.
Time and energy are finite, and people want to spend those precious resources in a focused way that achieves desired results. That make a difference. Build trust with them by helping them sharpen--not blur--their focus.
4. Underutilizing your people
When they're hired, people expect and want to be used. For their skills and expertise to be leveraged in service to the company's mission.
Yet, too often, people aren't fully leveraged. They're left out of the loop on key decisions. Being made to feel like they're standing on the sidelines makes people disengage. Nobody likes to be left out.
Re-engage them. Seek out their input. Leverage their knowledge. Their skills. Use them the way they want to be used. The way they expect to be used. Send the message that their wisdom matters to you.
When people are treated like they matter, they begin to act like they matter.
5. Seeking input then not valuing the guidance you get
Asking for people's input is the first step. Acting on it is where the rubber meets the road, when it comes to building trust. People know when they're being taken seriously--or being given lip service.
Take the people you work with seriously. Value and take action on their insight. You don't have to go it alone. The people you work with are there to support you.