How to construct a foundation of trust | Daily News


How to construct a foundation of trust

Trust and credibility are important in any relationship and can make or break personal or professional reputations. They are cornerstones to all social and professional associations and are right at the foundation of the survival and success of any affiliations.

Yet, given the importance of trust in any relationship, business or personal, it is surprising how often it is absent in managerial relationships. Trust, after all, is a powerful force that builds loyalty, increases credibility and supports effective communications. It gives one the benefit of the doubt in situations where one wants to be heard, understood and believed.

In the world of business today, trust is more important than ever, especially when it comes to your relationships with your clients, customers, employees and all stakeholders in your enterprise. In the business world, your credibility is everything. It tells people whether they can count on you. It tells your customers, employees, bosses and co-workers what they can expect from you. Whether they can trust you or not.

Over time, that becomes your reputation. It becomes one of the most important factors in determining how far you go in your career. Your credibility is largely a function of the perceived gap between what you say and what you do. If your actions match your words, you might go places. If they don’t, look out below.

Trust is one of the most important elements for an effective, efficient and harmonious workplace crucial to business success for not only your employer but yourself in terms of professional development.

Your credibility as a leader is gained by remaining loyal to your subordinates and watching out for their best interests. If the company is considering decisions that could result in a cut in pay or job losses, you need to stand up for your staff and work to find solutions that can help them retain their jobs. Loyalty from a manager results in the staff returning the sense of commitment to achieve mutual success.

Indeed, your ability to trust others and to be trusted in turn is a talent and skill that must be nurtured to its full potential. There is nothing more exasperating or counter-productive, than when someone makes a commitment to do something and then fails to follow through. Reliability is an important ingredient in establishing credibility. Besides, you cannot fake credibility, at least not for long. You can sometimes seem credible at first even when you are not reliable, but the illusion doesn’t last.

Being trustworthy essentially means being honest, even if you feel the situation and the individuals involved do not initially merit it. When you build a reputation for honesty, you are also building integrity and credibility, truly, two aspects of relationships essential in building trust.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. This is a maxim that you must apply every day of the week instead of in select situations.

Your words must be backed up by your actions, be it in submitting reports on time or in acting on a complaint. Trust is more about what we should expect from your business in the future. Credibility is only one attribute required to gain trust. Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. So understanding the importance of trust and how to develop and keep it can make a huge impact in business.

Some people foolishly act like they know everything. They can never, ever be wrong. They just have to show how smart they are. It’s funny really! Smart, experienced people know how much they don’t know. And those people will see right through you when you act like a know-it-all.

We all occasionally have to spin, pivot, deflect or redirect complicated issues. That’s fine when exigencies demand such manoeuvring. But in the name of everything holy never resort to flat out lies. It’s not about morals or ethics. It’s purely pragmatic advice. When you get caught, and you will, it will ruin your credibility.

Yes, and we come to the yes-men as well. They sugar-coat the truth and tell people what they think they want to hear. They are also slippery customers. Those people have zero credibility. It may work in government bureaucracies, but not in well-run businesses.

Credibility as a leader allows your subordinates to look at you as a reliable resource for information and decision making. A leader with credibility gains the respect of his peers and staff by displaying strong, positive attributes. Credibility can translate into improved staff performance under your guidance and effective relationships with clients.

To establish credibility, a leader must be accountable for his decisions and his actions. When a leader makes a mistake, he owns up to it and takes the steps necessary to correct the error. Delegating responsibility and showing trust in the ability of your subordinates is an important factor in developing credibility as well. Showing trust in their skill and their ability to perform a designated task develops confidence in your ability to manage the team.

One of the biggest mistakes certain leaders make is being full of themselves or acting self-importantly. Ego trips are certainly not on because such behaviour is generally a sign of immaturity and that damages their credibility. With experience comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes the knowledge that the world doesn’t revolve around you and you alone. You must realise that you are not nearly as smart or important as you thought you were when you were younger.

That is why humour and humility are such important leadership traits.

Remember that credibility is serious stuff. That is because your reputation is at stake. It follows you wherever you go.

A reputation and credibility is hard to build but easy to destroy. Don’t take it for granted. If you suffer some chronic hang-ups, start working on them now, before you do some things you can’t undo.

The first job of any leader is to inspire trust. Trust is confidence born of two dimensions, mainly character and competence. Character includes your integrity, motive and intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, skills, results and track record.

Both dimensions are vital. With the increasing focus on ethics in our society, the character side of trust is fast becoming the price of entry in the new global economy.

However, the differentiating and often ignored side of trust, competence, is equally essential. You might think a person is sincere, even honest, but you won’t trust that person fully if he or she doesn’t get results.

And the opposite is true as well. A person might have great skills and talents and a good track record, but if he or she is not honest, you are not going to trust that person either.

Well articulated and communicated vision may still fail to inspire people into action, if leaders fail to walk the talk. Living the values and enabling people to live by them is the area where successful leaders outclass others.

Great leaders inspire people and bank on them to take the organisation to a higher plane of performance by creating an environment of trust and empowerment.

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