Without trust, there is no leadership – 6 ways to build trust

Written by Signe Schack Noesgaard on 23. January 2018 . POSTED IN 1:1 meetings, leadership, trust . Leave a Comment

Few managers are actually leaders. The difference between the two? A manager is someone who has people reporting to her. A leader is someone who people will follow, even if they don’t report to her. What separates the leader from the manager is the respect and trust of her people.


When team members trust you, they feel secure in sharing their opinions without the fear of judgment or retribution. They know if you push them, you do so with their best interests in mind. And what’s the result? It’s a highly motivated and productive team.

Now, let’s take a look at 6 leadership behaviours that will build trust with your employees.

Lead by example

If you want your team members to display certain behaviors, you need to display them first. As an example, you may say that team collaboration is important, but to reinforce the point, you need to do so yourself – for instance by collaborating across teams and functions.

Act with consistency

You’ve probably worked for a manager or know of a manager who would be happy one day and frustrated and completely unapproachable the next. Such mood-swings creates uncertainty and frustration in the team, which leads to distrust. Don’t allow your frustration with other issues to spill over into your interactions with your team. Minimize temperamental surprises to act with consistency.

Share information

Transparency builds trust. Secrets destroy it. So, share information with your team.
True leaders are direct and honest. And people can smell you hiding something a mile away. If there is some information you can’t share with the team just yet, tell them what you can, and by when you can tell them more. This is especially critical in times of organizational change or layoffs.

Admit your mistakes

Instill trust by showing that you dare to admit mistakes. Admitting you were wrong isn’t a sign of weakness, but strength.
Of course pointing to every little mistake you make can make you lose credibility, but when you acknowledge that you were wrong about something, your employees will generally see you as credible and will follow your lead.

So, acknowledge mistakes and outline the new course.

Keep your promises and stick to your commitments

No one trusts those who don’t keep their word. So keep your promises and, if you make a commitment, stick to it.
Every now and then, however, there are circumstances outside your control that might come into play. In those cases your team will understand, as long as you keep your commitments consistently in times when this doesn’t apply.

Take the blame, but give away the credit

Acknowledge people for their contributions. The more credit your give away, the more motivated your team will be to move mountains for you.
And when something goes wrong, acknowledge the fact that the mistake was made under your leadership and never throw your team under the bus.
Take the hit. When undesirable outcomes happen, we are all quick to point the finger. If your employees see that you are willing to take the blame for the good of the team, even if it’s not directly your fault, then they will start to let go and trust you.

Remember – people don’t trust words, they trust actions. 

You can learn more about building trust and other tools via our Leadership Start Kit.

Get your Free Leadership Start Kit

Tags: 1:1 meetings, leadership, trust