According to a recent poll by Maritz Research Group, a leader in employee satisfaction research, 25% of employees report having less trust in management this year than they did last year, and only 14% say their company’s values reflect their own personal values. As a leader, it’s important for employees to know you can be trusted to not only make the best choices for the company, but for the people you lead as well. Unfortunately, building trust doesn’t happen overnight and it can be easily lost with a single misstep.
So, what are some of the characteristics of a trustworthy leader?
Honesty is the best policy, and perhaps the most basic building block of trust. To quote Shakespeare, “No legacy is so rich as honesty,” and leaders who commit themselves to being as transparent as possible with their employees are often the most trusted. Statistics show that dishonesty is an issue in many workplaces. According to a 2010 CareerBuilder survey on worker satisfaction, 30% of employees said their senior level leaders lacked transparency. The truth sometimes hurts, but the trust and credibility you build by striving to always be upfront and honest with the people you work with each day will pay off in the long run.
Results of the Maritz Research Group poll showed that only 10% of employees trust their leaders to make the right decision in times of uncertainty. Like an army following their commander into battle, it’s easier for your employees to put up a good fight when they trust that you know what you’re getting them into. You build trust among your employees by not only showing you have a deep understanding of the business, but that you also are willing to take the steps necessary to ensure you stay knowledgeable and ahead of the curve.
Consistency in the workplace not only refers to business processes and procedures, it’s also an indispensable characteristic of great leaders. Building a track record of successful decision making is no easy feat, but once your employees know you strive to reach the most logical conclusions – from project-related issues to how you handle employee mistakes – it will be easier for them to rally behind you. Consistency requires patience and can be more difficult to maintain in the heat of the moment, but demonstrating the same reliable leadership style day-to-day and project-to-project, reassures your team that they’re following a strong, stable leader.
The Maritz survey also showed that only 12% of employees believe their employer genuinely listens to and cares about them. In many businesses, especially large corporations, it can be easy for employees to forget that the people at the top are human too. Leaders who take the time to know the people who work for them and are capable of showing genuine compassion are more likely to gain the trust and respect of their employees than those who draw a hard line between business and the personal lives of their workers.
On average, men use more than 13,000 words per day, while women use nearly three times that amount. Humans speak at a rate of approximately 125-175 words per minute, and are able to listen at a rate of about 125-250 words per minute. Of course, just because we’re talking, doesn’t necessarily mean we’re communicating. Communication is a process defined by the mutual exchange of information, opinions, and ideas. As a leader, it’s important to be completely engaged when communicating with your employees and to be an active participant in conversation. When your employees feel that their ideas and concerns constantly fall on deaf ears, or they are simply being humored, it becomes more difficult to trust that you’ll be there to listen when it really matters.
From the company to the customers to, most importantly, the employees, a trustworthy leader has the ability to create loyalty within an organization and build strong working relationships. Not only are workers more productive when they trust their leaders, but they are also more engaged in the business as a whole.