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9 Tips for Building Trust with Your Team

About a year ago, I was asked to give a presentation to a group of people managers about building trust with their teams. I came up with this list of 9 fundamental leadership actions that I believe build trust: 


  • Inspiration: Your team needs to know the “why” behind their work. This gives them a sense of purpose, a reason to invest emotional energy as well as physical effort. Without this sense of purpose, the work becomes routine and employees become disengaged. 
  • Delegation: If you want your team to trust you, you have to trust them first. Give them tasks to do then let them own those tasks. If they aren’t proficient yet, break the work down further, delegate what you can, and training what you cannot. 
  • Prioritization: There’s always more work to do than time to do it. Without prioritization from you, the team has to guess at what deserves attention and what should be delayed or even ignored. 
  • Elevation: Your job as a leader is to get your team to do your job. This isn’t about promoting people, which is also important. This is about training the team so they can function at the highest level even when you’re away. This sort of independence is empowering for them and for you, as it creates space for you to elevate yourself to the next level. 
  • Adaptation: It’s your job as leader to see the big picture. While the team is busy doing work, you should be understanding what improvements you can make, what challenges lie ahead, and where changes need to be made to adapt to an ever-changing reality. 
  • Resolution: As leader, you must clear out the obstacles that get in your team’s way. Sometimes this means resolving conflict between members of your team, other times it means getting resources, dollars, and training to support their ability to get work done. 
  • Interaction: The most important meetings of your week, bar none, are the one-on-ones you have with your direct reports. This is where you provide purpose, reprioritize, coach. build rapport. Without these meetings, your people quickly become disoriented, disconnected, and disengaged 
  • Communication: Constant feedback on what is working and where there are opportunities is essential. This can’t just be an occasional piece of criticism. Positive reinforcement of what each team member is doing well is a much more effective way of accelerating success. 
  • Recognition: Your people want to know that their work is valued by you and by the organization. It’s important to find forums where you can celebrate personal and team wins. 

I believe that underneath all of these is the golden rule - treat your people as you would want to be treated. Or, to borrow a Simon Sinek quote, “Be the leader you wish you had.” 

The best leaders connect us with ideas that are bigger than ourselves. They actively seek to make us better everyday. And they lift us up to show us we can be even more than we believe we can be. 

That’s the sort of leader I aspire to be. 

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