The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer for: How do you build trust with your employees? is by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.
Trust, chemistry and respect. In my opinion, these are the three pillars of any relationship. And it’s only when you have these qualities working in tandem, that a true culture can begin to be built. All three are closely aligned, rely on each other and, I believe, are the true ingredients for any successful team.
It’s hard to gain trust in someone you have no chemistry with, it’s hard to have chemistry with someone you don’t respect, and it’s hard to have respect for someone you don’t trust. I’ve learned that colleagues forgive mistakes — they even forgive bad business judgment from time to time — but it’s almost impossible to forgive deceit. Integrity is the single most important trait any person can and should hold onto.
The best way to build trust with your employees (and peers) is by staying true to your word. Don’t mislead, and don’t mince words. There should always be strong rationale behind your decisions, so state them with confidence. And if you don’t have the right answer, it’s okay to admit that. A lot of people always have an answer, but no one has all the right answers. It’s endearing when a leader can admit that. It makes them human, relatable and easier to trust.
The management team needs to thoroughly trust each other. Don’t hoard information and avoid surface level discussions. Transparency can only be fostered with a free flow of information, from top to bottom. Never fear being honest and straightforward because at the end of the day, all you have is your word.
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