7 Reasons Why Your Team Doesn’t Trust You and 13 Ways to Build Trust

There seems to be no shortage of magazine articles and blogs talking about the link between  Leadership and Trust.  A recent Forbes article by Glenn Llopis discusses 7 behaviors that cause mistrust while Stephen Covey discusses 13 ways the best leaders build trust at Leadership Now.  You will find their lists below with comments about how Lean Leaders apply these lessons:

13 Ways to Build Trust:

  1. Demonstrate Respect – I moved this one to the top of the list because it is a main pillar of the Toyota Production System and Lean Leadership.  Much of what follows naturally flows from showing respect to the individuals on your team and others you work with each day.  Show respect by seeking their input and ideas, including them in problem solving, and building their capabilities.
  2. Talk Straight – Do what you say and say what you mean.  Be realistic about what your Lean Transformation can deliver.
  3. Create Transparency – Visual management is a big part of the best Lean Transformations.  This is just one way Lean Leaders are transparent.
  4. Right Wrongs – Mistakes have been and will be made.  Following the Deming (PDCA) Cycle will help you identify and correct issues.
  5. Show Loyalty – Stand-up for your team, provide support and remove obstacles so they can achieve their improvement objectives.
  6. Deliver Results – Your build credibility with your team and throughout the organization when your team delivers results.
  7. Get Better – Lean initiatives are all about improving the organization.  Some leaders don’t seem to realize that they must also change if Lean is going to be successful.  Lean Leaders make their teams better and they improve the way they lead.  Lean Transformations require a cultural change including the way we lead.  Lean is more than a toolbox.
  8. Confront Reality – You can’t ignore reality and expect problems to get better.  While you have to prioritize, Lean Leaders address the issues that keep their organizations from getting better.
  9. Clarify Expectation – Lean Leaders know that fuzzy expectations result in unrealistic scopes for problem solving (Kaizen) teams.  They can also result in misunderstandings when subjective terms means different things to different people.  Be clear and specific to avoid disappointment.  Use SMART goals.
  10. Practice Accountability – Accountability is not a bad word.  Your team wants accountability.  Lean Leaders are great at accountability through layered auditing systems.  This should include Standard Work Audits, Kamishibai Audits, and Gemba Audits.  Use these systems for regular follow-up on new procedures, critical process points, and to ensure your Lean systems are working.
  11. Listen First – Lean Leaders listen so they can understand the issues their team battle, help remove obstacles, and help improvement teams.
  12. Keep Commitments – This is one is pretty obvious to anyone who has been disappointed by a broken promise.  Build a reputation as one who follows-through on commitments and your team will know they can trust you to follow-through in the future.  They might even extend grace once-in-a-while once you have a solid track record.  Don’t over commit and make sure you complete your action items coming out of those team meetings.
  13. Extend Trust – You build suspicion and create a culture of mistrust when you don’t trust others.

Lean Leadership starts with respecting people.  Respect your team and those you work with enough to listen, to keep commitments, to make yourself and others better, and to deliver results.  We’ll look at the 7 Don’ts in part 2 tomorrow.


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Lean Six Sigma – More Than a Toolbox

Leadership Now

About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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2 Responses to 7 Reasons Why Your Team Doesn’t Trust You and 13 Ways to Build Trust

  1. M. Beckner says:

    Excellent ways to build trust. Executive Management should ensure those trusted in leadership positions possess the traits needed to build trust. A huge moral-buster is a leader who cannot be trusted. Unfortunately, we see them in all facets of business. Thanks for the article. I plan on sharing it with my leadership!

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