Team development

Trust is the key to team success

You may consider yourself a great leader, with a team who respects you and does as you ask, but one of the key currencies that teams trade on is trust.

If trust isn’t shared between the team and its leader, you’ve got no solid basis to build your future success on. And if your team doesn’t have faith in you, then it’s up to you, as the leader, to work on rectifying that – and quickly!

I’ve found, as a leader, that the more honest and authentic I am, the more genuine my team can be with me. They’ll more readily share their highs, their lows, their goals, and their worries. And that means we have a much closer working relationship, we’re more productive and, I think, we all just feel so much more motivated to come to work every day!

So, if you feel that your team is lacking a little faith, have a really honest think about why that could be. Are you new to the team, and yet to prove your leadership mettle? Have you, in the past, kept information from them, changed the goal at the last minute, or even given promotions without being totally transparent about your reasoning? All of these are going to erode the trust your team feels they are able to place in you.


Trust can be eroded by:

  • Giving unequal attention/development/rewards. You can’t just be fair – you have to be openly and demonstrably fair. You need to be beyond reproach when it comes to rewarding your team with bonuses, promotions, or development. But you knew that already – maybe you just forget to thoroughly explain your decision making process though, and that’s an easy fix.
  • Being an information gatekeeper. There may have been a good reason for you not delivering on a promise, but did you honestly and quickly explain the situation to your team? Leaders often have to tread a fine line between the decision makers above them and the people below. Unfair though it may be, you’re the person that will be held accountable by the team. Being as transparent as possible with them will help to reassure them that you’re on their side and willing to go into battle for them in the face of difficulty or change.
  • Indiscretion. Being the office gossip is a no-no for everyone, but in a leader with hiring and firing responsibilities it’s potentially destructive to careers and lives. It’s understandably natural to feel closer to some of your team members than others – after all, you may have worked together before you were promoted to leader – but you simply can’t give in to the all-too-human instinct to bond over the misfortunes of others. You are professional, discreet and beyond reproach.


So, what are you going to do about it?

  • Show your team who you really are. You don’t have to put on your leadership hat when you step into the building! Nobody expects, or wants, you to become someone that you’re not. Your team will want to know where they stand with you, and they’ll appreciate consistency. Nothing is more difficult than not knowing who you will get when they talk to your manager on a daily basis; we’ve all been there at some point, and it’s a source of real anxiety. Don’t be that manager!
  • Feeling brave? Why not consider using a 360 degree feedback tool, like Discovery Full Circle. Yes, you may hear some things that you’d rather not, but I would guess that if you feel the need to ask for feedback, you may know deep down that things could be a little warmer in your team climate. And hey, you will probably also hear a lot of things that you like, or that you can use to help you develop your leadership style. It’s not a witch hunt, it’s an opportunity to find space to have an honest conversation about what kind of leadership works for your team.
  • Work the color energies. Your dominant color energy will affect your personal style, and how you are perceived by others.
    • A leader with lots of Cool Blue energy may be seen as a critical micromanager, meaning that your team feels you can’t trust them to make decisions.
    • Dominant Fiery Red energy could come off as rash and demanding. Your team may feel that you don’t trust them to deliver unless you set strict deadlines.
    • Sunshine Yellow leaders may be seen as flighty and lacking in perseverance, and your team may feel that they can’t trust you to stick to one set course of action.
    • Earth Green leadership could potentially gain a reputation for being unwilling to share information and indecisive. Your team could feel excluded and devalued.


So have a long, hard think about how you display trust in your team, and how they might perceive trustworthiness in you. The answers may not always be easy, but the work you do now will stand you in good stead for team success.