Leadership Skills: The Formula for Building Trust

Have you ever been abandoned by your team? Does the fear of that happening again ever get in the way of your committing to teams?

Confidence in one another is an essential ingredient of all successful teamwork.

Exactly what it takes to build confidence (and, therefore, trust) may seem hard to define. But basically, the formula is embedded in the ways we make and keep agreements.

Think about it: do you trust people who haven’t kept their agreements with you? I’ll bet you don’t make important agreements with them anymore.

From my perspective, the formula that builds trust looks like this:

  1. Make a small agreement with someone, one you can afford to risk.
  2. Complete the agreement; keep your end and see if they keep theirs.
  3. Make a larger, incrementally more risky agreement and repeat the process.

Sounds really simple. But in my experience, the formula is too seldom applied as a conscious relationship management principle when intending to build trust.

Small agreements are easy to make and forget since they are small (i.e., “I’ll call you.”). But trust is usually built only by making and keeping small agreements.

Why? Because if you do not keep small agreements, then you do not get the chance to make large agreements.

Some essential rules about agreements:

  • Never ever make any agreement that you do not fully intend to keep (no matter how small).
  • Clean up all broken agreements at the first opportunity.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Stretch

This week, use a 3 x 5 card that you carry with you to record each and every agreement you make over the course of a day or two.

Then carry the card until you complete each and every agreement.

You might also like these other two posts I wrote about trust:

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Leadership on 05/13/2013 01:17 am
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