We build trust by being credible. We are credible when our actions align with our words. Our words are value-laden. Our actions should align with our values — our true values. If you walk around saying “I’m all about family” and then make your people work overtime and weekends, you won’t have a lot of credibility. If you are seen to be credible, you can then lead. Your everyday actions in ordinary situations matter. This is how you build credibility.
You don’t have to be in a position of power or authority to lead. Imagine that it’s your parents’ 50th anniversary and some close friends are throwing them a party. A guest yourself, you glide through greeting guests, filling glasses, cleaning up, making sure there’s enough food, etc. You are making sure everything is going smoothly so everyone else can have a good time. This is the job of the leader: remove obstacles so everyone else can succeed.
I used to volunteer for everything. I thought I was showing initiative. In reality, I was putting too much on my own plate and starving others. By taking on too much, nothing could be done well. It’s hard to build credibility, but it’s very easy to lose it. By doing it all yourself, you’re setting yourself up to fail on at least one thing; the one thing that everyone will remember. As well, you are denying others a chance to hone their own leadership skills.
Imagine a work environment in which everybody was leading. I’m not talking about the over-used societal definition of leadership about being in charge, but the trust-building, relationship-oriented true definition of leadership. If everyone at the party is working to ensure that it goes smoothly, a better time will be had by all with better outcomes. Helping others develop their own leadership by allowing them to practice those behaviors creates an environment of leadership. As others become better leaders, it makes your job easier.
For many, this is the hardest of it all. Trust begets trust. In order to build a trusting relationship, you must first trust them. Purposefully create situations in which someone else has a chance to be successful. Trust them to get the job done without interfering. It will build their confidence and capability. Micromanaging kills spirits and creates more work for you.