For years, leadership has been a top down trait often assigned by title or rank. In fact, when we often think of leadership in business we think of CEO’s, owners and founders. But today the leadership mantle has changed. The importance of shared values in the workplace and the collaboration of leader and employee ensures that position title alone does not determine whether you can truly inspire your followers to go in the direction you lead. It takes more than being the boss or having the position of power. It takes TRUST.

In fact according to a leadership study by Gallup, when thousands of followers were asked what they needed most from a leader, trust was a top the list.

So if you want to achieve your mission, be a better leader to your people and ultimately grow your business, integrate trust into everything you do. Stephen Covey puts it this way:

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.

Here are a few simple ways you can boost the leadership trust factor with your team and your business:

Communicate and Collaborate

If you are wearing the leadership hat in your small business then you are a communicator by default. Which means that whether you are sharing strategic direction with your people or giving them daily updates, it is vital to be honest and open in the way you communicate. If sales are sluggish, let them know. If you are facing a roadblock in your business, share it.

When you communicate with your employees in an honest and timely way it helps to build better rapport and trust. One easy way to grow trust through communication is by having weekly or daily huddles with everyone. A quick team huddle is a great platform to share updates, review your most important metrics, and make sure the entire team is on the same page.

As a leader, it’s also important to truly listen to your employees and engage in one on one conversations with your team. Being willing to listen and respond personally to your employees and their issues helps you to earn and keep their trust.

Do What You Say

One surefire way to develop trust is to be a leader of character. That means delivering on the promises you have made.

Back up your words with actions. So if you promised to follow up on an email, make sure it happens. If you said you will put through a bonus for an employee, come through on it. It is not just the big promises that matter to your people, it’s the everyday occurrences that they are looking at. Your team is always asking, “Can I trust that my leader is going to come through for me?”

No leader is perfect, but if you consistently over promise and undeliver, your team will lose trust and confidence in you as their captain.

Give Trust

Demonstrating trustworthiness as a leader is critical, but you shouldn’t focus merely on receiving the trust of others. Trust is a two-way street, and giving is just as important as getting. If you do not trust your employees to do what is right, then it makes it extremely hard to foster teamwork and innovation.

A great way to build trust is through delegation. Delegating projects to your people and letting them see them through to the end is a great way to foster goodwill. When you put your trust in your tribe they are much more likely to return the favor and trust you as their leader.  

Be Authentic

People are really good at seeing through the BS.  Your team wants to follow a leader that is real and genuine.  Leadership expert Lolly Daskal says it best:

“The best proof of leadership is trust.  People want to follow leaders who are trustworthy—those whose behavior is genuine and who never leave others guessing..”

Team members respect leaders whose beliefs do not waiver whether at work or out of the office. That means when leaders live by a consistent set of values and their actions align to those values, they have a better chance to gain the trust of their followers.

An authentic leader also puts the purpose of the business above their own agenda. As a leader in your business, assessing one’s strengths and weakness will help others around you to ignite their passion to use their talents to further the mission of the business. In the end, employees will see you not just for your title but for who you are and what you stand for.

Ultimately, the establishment of trust depends on a leader’s ability to give and get trust. When you come through on your promises, are real and genuine in your actions, and communicate in a way that is open and caring, you will be looked at as a trustworthy leader worth following.