How To Lead Through Trust Rather Than Fear

January 6, 2015

fearManagers who lead through fear create a hostile work environment, leaving their employees frazzled, stressed, and reluctant to communicate. These leaders miss valuable feedback from their team, and they run the risk of sending their best talent straight to burnout.

Leading through trust can prevent these issues, and help to maintain an engaged and productive work team that stays with the organisation.

Developing and maintaining employee trust is a skill that doesn’t just appear overnight. Effective leaders take the time to actively and mindfully consider their managerial decisions and methods, and must be willing to accept change if there are areas that need improvement.

Providing leaders with performance evaluations that include measures of employee trust can provide valuable feedback as they strive to reach their performance goals.

Whether the individual is just entering a management position for the first time or a seasoned vet seeking to improve their leadership skills, the first step is to evaluate and document the goals and theories behind their leadership style.

Clearly articulating management style and expectations to employees can help to ease employee anxieties. As time passes, continuing to provide consistent and fair leadership will build employee confidence and trust.

So what makes leadership fair? Research says it’s a combination of genuine human connection, a sense of compassion and empathy, and a consistent and objective leadership style.

The majority of the research supports leadership styles that encourage the employee to take ownership of their individual performance while still working together as a team to reach organisational goals. These successful leaders used positive and productive language while helping the employee to develop their own set of achievable performance goals.

. Of course, employees will naturally trust managers who care about them as a person, and will work harder for these types of leaders. The employee whose personal leave request is met with genuine compassion is more likely to at least attempt to be productive outside of the office and will likely return to work faster. This support system will raise job satisfaction, decrease burnout, and improve absenteeism rates.

The final component needed to build lasting trust between employees and their leaders is a sense of fair work distribution. Leaders must have a clear understanding of the role that each employee plays in the larger organisational picture, and be prepared to jump in whenever necessary. The best leaders are able to competently contribute to any aspect of the team to ensure all organisational goals are met.

When employees see that their leader is able to “get in the trenches” with them, this level of day to day support will quickly translate into deep and lasting trust.

Leaders who are willing to chip in with re-organising a file system or provide valuable feedback and editing for projects inspire their employees to think of the team as a collective whole, increasing peer accountability and setting employees up for success.

Ultimately, the ability to be great leader lies in the ability to simply treat employees with decency and respect. Leaders who strive to remain consistent, fair, and supportive in their leadership style will notice increases in employee engagement, productivity, job satisfaction, attendance, and tenure as employee trust continues to build.

Before long, the work team will reach a new level of synergy as trust becomes the driving force behind an engaged and supportive work family.

Many thanks

Stewart Bull

Senior Trainer & Consultant

Mark Williams 3

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)