“He’s going to have to earn my trust!” Heard that before a few times? I have. And for many years I followed that advice as a leader. I would start working with a new team, meeting them with an air of suspicion and a strong dose of cynicism. This often only lasted a short period of time, until the ice began to thaw and we’d sized each other up. Then once I decided I trusted them, we started to build momentum.
But what if this method of “gaining trust” is just wrong? What if you flipped it and decided that it was already assumed? From my experience, this is a very empowering way to make an early stand as a strong leader. But it’s not for the faint hearted. It takes courage to do this, because when you assume trust you are placing yourself in the position of being vulnerable.
Now before that word starts to bring you out in a cold sweat, let’s look at why this in fact could be the medicine you’re looking for to cure lingering suspicion, or worse – disengagement – of your team members.
When you think about it, being vulnerable is often the first thing we look for in others. When we see it we view it as courage, daring and brave. We admire those people because having the courage to be ‘exposed’ for who you really are is a valuable, human quality. It allows us to bring our compassion and understanding to their situation. It stirs up feelings of great respect.
Why is it then that our vulnerability is the last thing we show to others? Because in ourselves, we see it as weakness. We try to be everything to everyone. We never want to reveal that maybe we just don’t have all the answers. We’re afraid of judgement, of being seen, or worse – standing out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons. What if we show up and are seen only to get it ‘wrong’? Will we be seen as a failure? Will we no longer belong? Will people not like us anymore?
Chances are the answers to those questions are the opposite of what we fear. Here’s why:
Projection is reflection
If what we project is a reflection of what we get back, then we must trust ourselves first before we can trust others. That can be challenging for some. Here are 4 ways you can develop trust in yourself, so that you are ready to project that trust to others:
- Keep promises you make to yourself
- Set boundaries and stick by them
- Back yourself, believe that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to
- Create positive beliefs that empower, nurture and support you
If you lead from this space, you are showing others that you are trustworthy. Your words and actions become mutually exclusive and others see you quickly as someone they can trust. We like people we can trust, so we are more inclined to listen to them, want to please them and work hard for them. Approaching a new team from this place will allow relationships to form more quickly, and the results will follow.
It’s not just what happens in the workplace. When you embrace assumed trust, in yourself and others, the benefits ripple through all areas of your life. For me, I have been rewarded by:
- Stronger connection to others – team members, colleagues, direct managers and peers
- Connection at a deeper level in my personal relationships
- People open up to me and share more about themselves because rapport is developed quickly
In a society where fear holds us back, this is one area you can stand out from the crowd. Be vulnerable, show others who you are and what you stand for. When you respect yourself, it’s easier for others to respect you. Assumed trust – try it on. I can assure you, it will be worth it!
Want to find out more about how you can assume trust and strengthen your leadership? Contact for a complimentary, no-obligation discovery session so we can find out if we’re a great match.
Tags: leader leadership leadership qualities trust vulnerability