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How to Build Trust

Boost faith among your workers with these three steps.



Trust is an essential component of any successful professional team. It binds co-workers together and it helps create open lines of communication. To grow as a leader, try these steps.

Understand your team’s behavioral styles

A lack of trust can stem from miscommunication because leaders often don’t take the time to figure out how each employee communicates, says Heather Christie, president of Fort Myers-based Evolve Global, which coaches executives on employee selection, leadership development and team building.

“Rather than communicating with everyone the way I want to be communicated with ... another take on the Golden Rule, we focus on the platinum law ... ‘treat other people the way that they want to be treated,’” she says.

Christie uses the DISC model of behavioral styles in most of her training sessions because it easy to teach and understand. DISC is an acronym for four distinct behavioral styles: dominant, influencing, stable and cautious.

Joseph Padgett, an executive at LCEC, uses the DISC model within his team. Knowing his employees’ behavioral styles has improved communication.

“It is super important for you to get acclimated to [your team] and to understand them,” he says.

Christie recommends that her clients identify their employees’ behavioral styles and make it known to all team members. That way, each employee will know how best to communicate with his or her co-workers.

Know when to use different management styles

Just as behavioral styles are essential in creating trust, a leader’s use of different management styles can also promote a trusting environment. Christie identified three different management styles that are used most often in the workplace: managing, coaching and mentoring.

“The best of the best leaders, the ones who are the most trusted, know when to use each style,” Christie says.

When a leader coaches employees, rather than telling them what to do, this helps the employee learn and displays the leader’s faith in the employee. The result is mutual trust.

Be vulnerable

One of the easiest and most effective ways to build trust is through vulnerability. However, workplace vulnerability is not common or natural.

“A lot of people in business put up a façade,” Christie says. “When you start to see behind the mask of these executives and you see that this person is a real person and has issues as well, there’s all of the sudden this barrier that just drops.”

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