Building Trust And Respect As A Leader

Great business needs great leadership. What are the keys to great leadership however? Building trust and respect as a leader brings a lot of benefits, including greater employee engagement, loyalty and increased productivity.

But don’t take it from me. There is increasing evidence that fostering a values driven culture of trust and respect will have a real impact on employee performance. 

In a world where our devices mean we are constantly connected, distractions come from many places. In fact, evidence suggests the average worker gets interrupted every 3 minutes and 5 seconds while they work. Even if employees are more productive at home, the average worker is still only productive for about 3 hours a day.

Being a trusted and respected leader can improve these numbers. A better relationship with their boss helps employees feel accepted, and listened to in the workplace. This in turn leads to higher employee engagement, which is tied to 17% higher productivity, and 21% higher profitability.

And even if the numbers were unclear, a trusted and respected leader can still provide tons of benefits. The easiest one to see is that a good relationship with management leads to happier employees. And from some points of view, that is the biggest social impact companies can have.

So it’s pretty clear that building trust and respect as a leader is important. But how can leaders begin to build these relationships? Let’s find out.

Work Relations Are Human Relations

For leaders that try to build relations with their employees, the most important aspect is to not approach it as a business process. It technically is, but new leaders shouldn’t view it as such. Building trust and respect as a leader is the same as building a trusting relationship outside the workforce. Key to this is finding common values and focusing on clear communication and quality time. 

Employees and managers will spend a lot of time together, whether they want to or not. The only thing leaders need to do is to make the most out of that time. Common values should be a given if the hiring process was done the right way. And employees and managers need to communicate to get their job done.

So work relationships are already set-up for success. They just need a nudge in the right direction. 

Empathy and Understanding

Trust is a very fickle thing. It’s hard to earn trust from someone, and it’s extremely easy to lose it. Not to mention, people have very different ways and thresholds to trusting someone. 

A good way to build trust as a leader is to be empathetic and understanding. No matter the industry, market, or department, obstacles will arise. Whether they’re professional, or personal, employees will sometimes look to their leaders for aid in hard times.

Here’s what that moment might look like:

  • An annoying client that’s too demanding.
  • A personal emergency that needs immediate attention.
  • A complaint about coworkers.
  • An idea to improve systems or processes in the business.
  • An issue with existing systems and processes.

And many other possible situations that team members need help with. The bottom line is that employees will eventually have a discussion with their leader about an obstacle they’re facing.

The answer of the leader should be empathetic and understanding. Even if a leader sees the complaint as irrelevant, or the obstacle as unavoidable, the pain points and desires of the employees must be acknowledged. 

Hard Work And Dedication

Respect can’t be earned through being loud, or imposing one’s will over others. Respect is earned when other people can appreciate one’s actions. In the workforce, that will always be hard, and good work.

The best way to earn employees’ respect is by demonstrating flawless work ethic. Leaders aspiring to earn trust and respect should not shy away from things like going above and beyond to solve an issue, staying after hours to address a pressing problem, or coming up with inventive solutions that drive the business further.

Balancing Manager-Employee Relationships

The tips I outlined above can help leaders get closer to their team. Establish authentic relationships, inspire trust, and gain the respect of their peers. However, that can also be a dangerous pitfall. Employees should still respect their manager as a leader, not just as a friend.

That’s why the work of getting closer to one’s employees should be balanced with strict measures sometimes. The line is very fine, and walking it is a matter of experience. But managers should simply focus on not saying “yes” all the time, or being complacent in situations just because conflict with employees might feel uncomfortable.