“It’s the company’s responsibility to look after your employees first. Happy employees ensures happy customers. Happy customers ensures happy shareholders – in that order.”

Herb Kelleher – Founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines

In one of his many articles, Simon Sinek wrote: “A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other.”

This is a wildly important lesson in leadership. To become a true leader takes more than just ability to lead by example and inspire people. Although those are both incredibly difficult tasks.

However, there’s another important element, and that’s the ability to build a sense of trust within your organization. You can’t have a team without trust, and you clearly can’t be a leader without a team. Trust needs to be at the foundation of any business.

Why Trust Should Be A Priority

First, trust empowers your employees. This sense of empowerment leads to at least 26% higher employee satisfaction, according to a study by Yona Kifer of Tel Aviv University.

That sense of empowerment translates into more authenticity and feelings of well-being, the researchers found. Ultimately, these feelings lead to much higher engagement in the workplace.

And that’s where the real treasure lies. According to Gallup, over 70% of employees feel disengaged. This apathy costs US companies between $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.

If you can help your employees be more engaged, that alone sets you apart from the rest of the crowd.

So How Can You Actually Build Trust?

In another study, Gallup found that recognition, constant communication, and trust create a thriving environment where front-line employees feel they have the autonomy to make a real difference in the organization.

So how do you go about creating that kind of environment?

The serial entrepreneur and founder of gaming company Zynga, Mark Pincus, has made everyone in his company a CEO of their job. In an interview for NY Times, he said:

“I’d turn people into CEOs. One thing I did at my second company was to put white sticky sheets on the wall, and I put everyone’s name on one of the sheets, and I said, “By the end of the week, everybody needs to write what you’re CEO of, and it needs to be something really meaningful.” And that way, everyone knows who’s CEO of what and they know whom to ask instead of me. And it was really effective. People liked it. And there was nowhere to hide.”

He then offers an example of an employee taking the responsibility and flourishing into a company-wide leader with it. By giving his employees the autonomy to do their jobs without being micro-managed, Pincus created a strong sense of trust and a more engaged team at Zynga.

Delegation is hugely important in building trust within an organization. If you don’t feel that you can successfully delegate tasks among the employees you hired in the first place, you have a bigger problem on your hands.

In his renowned book, ‘Together is Better,’ Simon Sinek talks about making the transition to becoming a leader. The moment you’re ready to empower people and delegate tasks with trust, that’s when you transition to a true leader.

Leadership, Simon explains, “is a hard work of training people, coaching people, believing in people and trusting people.”

Trust is a foundational piece of any successful business. In order to keep employees engaged, make sure you’re all on the same page with expectations, company values and measures of success. A level of autonomy and a sense of empowerment will create a stronger workplace and a more successful business in the long run.