Strong leadership is defined by a variety of traits, but perhaps the most critical quality for a leader’s success is being trusted by the people you manage.
How a leader communicates can go a long way toward building trust—or destroying it. A recent article by business author Gwen Moran on FastCompany.com shares five ways that leaders may be damaging their credibility, on purpose or without realizing it, by how they connect with their teams.
Here’s an overview of what Moran presents as concrete communication methods to build and maintain the trust of your team.
- Set Aside Your Agenda – Building trust is not about advancing your own agenda or downplaying difficult issues at the cost of truth. For example, your team probably has a good idea that there’s downsizing in the future, so tell them what you know and that you’ll share more as you learn more. Then be sure to do it.
- Offer An Authentic Apology – If you’re in the wrong, offer a genuine apology for what you did. “In addition, in corporate context, the apology includes an agreement or a statement about what the organization or the individual is going to do to make sure that it doesn’t happen again or to address the wrong,” says Moran.
- Accept Responsibility With No Finger-Pointing – Moran cites communication coach Kate Bennis who says that “publicly making someone else a scapegoat is just going to make people wonder about how much you can be trusted.”
- Skip The “Non-Denial Denial” – Put more simply, tell the truth from the outset and “try to emphasize the positive or a solution,” says Michael Maslansky, CEO of Maslansky + Partners. “You may say that you’re exploring options and give a concrete timeline when employees can expect more answers.” Being ambiguous or offering half-truths will only come back to bite you (and your credibility) in the long run.
- Answer Questions Directly – Leadership communication expert and author Terry Pearce states that when leaders “ignore context and dismiss their responsibility to be truthful, their credibility is at risk.” How cleverly you can answer a question without really answering it is not a criterion for effective leadership, and it certainly won’t make folks trust you. As an old adage goes, “Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.”
We at Authentic Leadership International (www.boldermoves.com) are well versed in helping leaders develop these, and many other, effective communication skills that will increase your credibility as a leader.
As a leader, if you manage the high-level issues and honestly share relevant information with your team as needed, they will be confident that you’re looking after their interests and will likely perform better because of it.
Looking for a way to practice expanding your leadership capabilities, such as improving credibility with your team, in small yet bold ways? Sign up here to access my Weekly Bold Move. It’s free and with no strings attached.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Colleen Slaughter Raue, Managing Partner of Authentic Leadership International
Colleen is a transformational leadership coach who guides international leaders as they attain the clarity, courage and self-confidence necessary to realize higher levels of productivity and fulfillment in both their personal and professional lives.
Her purpose is to facilitate her clients’ transformation from limiting beliefs and self-doubts into a deeper, more powerful knowingness of how much they – and what they envision for themselves – truly matter.
Colleen’s perspectives were recently featured in an article on the International Coach Federation’s website here.