Becoming a Great Leader: Inspiring and Building Trust with Employees

NextGen Training Summit

Presented by: Partnership for Public Service

In order to be a successful leader or manager it is essential to achieve a high level of trust with others, particularly in these challenging times when trust in our government’s leaders is at its lowest levels. In an interactive session, representatives from the Partnership for Public Service shared research and best practices on how leaders and aspiring leaders can inspire and build trust with employees.

Inspiring Trust

The Partnership for Public Service shared research from Stephen M.R. Covey’s, Speed of Trust, Four Cores to inspiring trust:

  • Integrity. Do what is right, even when it is costly.
  • Intent. Show loyalty and give credit to others.
  • Capability. Continuously develop your talents, strengthen your knowledge, sharpen your skills and strive for a positive, confident attitude.
  • Results. Identify desired results, take responsibility for them and work for them.

Build Trust

In building trust with others it is important to remember that extending trust brings out the best in people. The following steps can accelerate the trust-building process:

  • Get to know them. The more you learn about someone’s background, hobbies and motivation the more likely you are to trust them. You can do this by walking the halls, going out for coffee or through icebreakers at team meetings.
  • Create High and Clear Expectations. As an employee begins to earn your trust, extend it conditionally and consistent with their ability. As they deliver results and meet expectations, extend more trust by raising the expectations. As you are clear and transparent in this process, the shared trust will gain momentum.
  • Practice Accountability. Hold employees accountable to the expectations you have set. Create mechanisms for employees to share challenges, success, and progress. This can be done through regular check-ins, progress-tracking charts, or team meetings.
  • Communicate. Listen to your employees to find out what’s important to them. Offer support in their work and in development. Follow through on your commitments and they will reciprocate.

The attributes to build trust and effective relationships can be developed over time with enough practice and commitment. Take a second to jot down your response to the following questions and make your own commitment. What can you do to inspire others to trust you? What can you do to build trust with others?

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Pat Fiorenza

Great post – thanks for the write up. Create high and clear expectations and communicate are the two keys for me – need to have everyone aligned around tangible goals and outcomes, helps build a solid team and grows trust.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Thanks for the summary, Lillian. I wasn’t able to attend that session, but really appreciate / believe in the Covey trust material. I’ve used it in a few talks here and there. I think trust is *the* critical competency for all of us as we experience an increasingly mobile, fast-moving workforce. How are you seeing trust (or lack of it) play out in your workplace?

Kim Truong

My favorite manager always took the time to talk to me and others one-on-one to check in, talk casually, explain something more in depth. That one-on-one time made me feel comfortable to approach him and of course, trust him. Great leaders know how to take that first step. Thanks for outlining these great starting points, Lillian!

Samantha Holquist

Great post! I also learned a lot about trust in leadership during the “opportunities for change” panel! They talked a lot about becoming a leader by speaking the truth and maintaining integrity.

Christine Frazier

Great comments from everyone! Communications and Trust are essential for leadership. Leaders must set the example so in order to gain trust from your people you have to not just “talk the talk” you have to “walk the walk” as well. Paying lip service will not cut it.

Lillian Amaechi

These are great comments! My favorite managers are the ones that take the time to listen to their employees and have a genuine interest in them. I agree that communication is a key point. It seems like communication is the common solution, yet it is the most difficult to accomplish.

Terrence (Terry) Hill

Thanks for the recap! I think that managers often lose the trust of their employees when they aren’t transparent, whether it is about a looming furlough, why someone received an award, or why someone was selected for a posiiton. Keeping “secrets” does not inspire trust. Only by being open and honest can managers ever expect employees to reciprocate trust.