One of the key foundations of leadership is trust. People have to trust that you are leading them where they want to go and not into despair. You have to build relationships to build trust. That sounds easier than it is actually accomplished. That is especially true if you’re a woman in a business environment. Why? Because interests can be so different. Viewpoints are different. If you have kids it’s even harder, because you already have so many demands on your mind, time, finances, and all other resources. So, what’s a person to to?
Build Relationships to Build Trust
- Focus on colleagues as people. Get to know them. Learn their Spouse’s name, their childrens’ names and ages. Learn what their hobbies and interests are. Chances are you have more in common than you realize.
- Eat lunch with your team. If you always eat lunch at your desk, then you are saving time that you can spend with your family. It also means that you are losing out on critical networking and bonding time with your team. Bonus- getting away from your desk allows you to take a break from work, and recharge your batteries a bit which is a productivity enhancer. Win-Win.
- If your Team goes out, go out with them. There are a number of people at my workplace who play golf every week during the summer. I’ve acquired a set of clubs, and go out with them fairly regularly during the summer. A few years ago, people gave me all kinds of grief in the workplace. Now we’re friends, and we help each other. Blame it on Golf. I play very badly, and that’s okay- they put up with my really bad game, and laugh at my antics.
- Make Deposits With Others. This one deserves its entire own post, which I will do some day. Be helpful. Do favors for others. Do great things for other people, before requesting anything- 7-10 deposits for every request you make of them, to build your relationship.
- Tell the Truth. Always. Nothing will undermine your credibility faster than lying. If you can’t answer something, just say so. No answer is a fine answer. Make a point of never lying.
- Be Professional but Be Yourself. You should always be yourself. Don’t be something you’re not. People will know. I am myself, and always will be. Quirky. Odd sense of humor. Funky clothing styles. I try to be professional, even when I’m not at work.
- Be Consistent. I personally hate very few things more than people who are using me to get ahead. Be consistent in your relationships. Know that you will go through ups and downs, but be constant and consistent about the relationships and friendships you build. I am not a fan of the friend of the month club.
In short, it is important to me to build relationships to build trust. The key a genuine, true relationship, with substance. It takes effort, and time, and energy. It can also take a bit of humility. But it is worth it.