“Leading is easy…you just need to be given some authority and a task. Leadership, on the other hand, is hard because leadership requires trusting relationships.”
Creating these trusting relationships can be difficult says Lt. Gen. George Flynn (not Michael Flynn of the Trump administration). George Flynn discusses what it takes to develop trust with your team in the Entre Leadership Podcast episode #173 (listen to the entire episode here).
If leadership cannot be done without trust then the important question is, “How is trust developed?” Gen. Flynn mentions five characteristics required of leaders looking to build trusting relationships: integrity, compassion, consistency, competence, and empathy.
People need to believe what leaders say. If persons on a leader’s team discover the leader’s word isn’t dependable, then leaders will have difficulty getting others to follow.
One of the most important ways to gain trust is through a leader’s reaction to failure…both their own and others. Do leaders own their own failures? Do they stand with others when they fail? If leaders simply blame others for failure rather than seeking ways to learn from those failures, they are hurting their ability to gain trust.
In order to gain trust leaders need to be consistent across situations and people. It is often said that trust is earned and not given but good leaders start everyone out with the same level of initial trust. Trust can then be gained or lost but if leaders don’t give everyone a place to start it is a long path to earning trust.
Trust is hard to develop if leaders are not able to handle their own responsibilities. This does not mean there’s no room for error but it does mean there is an expectation that a leader is able to do what his or her position demands of them.
When it comes to gaining trust it is imperative that a leader listens to their team. There’s always more than one side to a story. People need to be able to express their side of the story to the empathetic ear of a good leader. In addition, leaders must be willing to sacrifice for the team. When leaders demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice for others…others are more willing to sacrifice for the leader.