What helps us decide whether we can trust a leader? Research has found two main factors: warmth and strength. An article in Harvard Business Review explained that these factors answer two critical questions: “What are this person’s intentions toward me?” and “Is he or she capable of acting on those intentions?”
So is it better for leaders to start by creating warm and caring relationships, or to demonstrate competence to deal with challenges? The article stated that influential leaders start with warmth – creating connections and building trust inspires people to follow enthusiastically rather than feeling coerced. Even small nonverbal gestures such as smiling or nodding can indicate attentiveness to the other person, which in turn inspires trust in your ability to address their concerns.
Barbara Brooks Kimmel followed up on the HBR article by interviewing one of the researchers. Peter Glick explained that trust is a necessary ingredient to build commitment and motivation for an organization’s members to work toward common goals. He observed that without trust, leaders need to focus on control and compliance, which further erodes trust and contributes to a downward spiral of diminishing engagement.
Kimmel published a series of blog posts on “52 Ideas to Build Trust.” Some ideas include:
- Minimize fear by reinforcing candor
- Set intentional promises and expectations on what you will deliver
- Be inclusive in decision-making
- Encourage risk-taking and celebrate positive failures
- Be a role model
What actions can you take to build trust with those you work with?
Dee Anne Bonebright