Question: How can a new leader build trust rapidly?

This website does not allow me to leave a follow-up comment. I want to thank everyone who replied to my previous question "Trouble adjusting to the culture of my new organization".

Reading and reflecting, I think my biggest reward is in building trust. I am new, and "corporate-ish"... my position is new. Everyone in my team has been in this company for several years, working with the founder.

Reframing my question- How can I earn trust rapidly?

9 Expert Insights

I appreciate the opportunity to respond.  And ... I'm going to address the issue of 'earning trust' first.  Granted that I don't know anything about the culture you've entered nor the size of the leadership team.  Both of these things will impact how long it might take and the best way to go about it.

What I will presume is that you were brought into the organization because of the skills and knowledge that you bring to this table.  Thus people at the top believe that you're the one for the job and having that support is very important ... especially for you to know and remember.  It is likely that you, being the newbie in the group, are viewed with skepticism and wonder.   People are inclined to make up things about your position (if it is a new one) and you.  It's up to you to dispel any sense of threat or worry to their security that is just there ... because you're the new entity.  Here are a few things that will help your cause.

1.  Listen to each individual with whom you will be working.  What is going on in their area?  How might your department be able to make their job easier, flow more smoothly?  what are concerns that they have in general and what can you in your area do to support them more effectively

2.  Let them know how you see that your position and you might be able to help them.

3. Be interested in knowing about them ... how long with the company?  what are the changes that they've witnessed in which they've played a part.  There will be a value in your knowing of the history of the organization through the eyes of those whose trust you want to earn.  

This doesn't need to take a long time.  Not know your specific position I can't speak to a specific approach.  Obviously if you are the new CEO or President you have greater latitude than if a department head or divisional VP or maybe not if you only referring to earning the trust of those who report to you.

As a coach, this is an issue that is not uncommon especially if two organizations merge or when someone new enters a company wherein the others have been there for a very long time and are uncertain what the new person represents to their jobs.  Your initial challenge is to help all relax and put their fists down so that you have the chance to impress and win over from a level starting place.

thanks for asking

Make bold promises and meet them.

Be responsible and authentic--especially around the hard stuff.

Hire Charlie Green as a coach.  Failing that, read his stuff about trust, especially in leadership contexts.  He's a genius around trust, especially because he boils down what it takes to earn it in a very real-world, accessible way.

And practice compassion and curiosity--including for yourself. If you listen for what people intend and not just literally what they say, there's a lot of wisdom there.

I’ve read your previous question and the fine responses which provide the context for responding to this question of building trust.  From the information available, it appears that the founder (and President) is now ready to delegate the day-to-day operations to you, his new Chief Operating Officer.  However, it also appears that the founder has trained those who now report to you to “delegate up” to him.   It is not part of the culture for anyone to do anything new or different without first consulting the founder.  Your “presence” disrupts and interferes with long established, comfortable habits.

The organization operated successfully before you arrived.  So in dealing with problems or operational changes, have your direct reports teach you how they have solved similar problems in the past and how they want to solve the current problem today.  IF their idea will work, even if it is not as good as your idea, let them execute their approach.  Introduce as few of your ideas as possible for at least six months.  Once your direct reports feel that you respect and value their talents and experience, they will be open to learning from you.  

The second aspect of building trust “is doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it, in all things large and small.”  When you promise to deliver something such as a report, recommendation, or whatever, by a time and date certain, you deliver!  You are “the new kid on the block,” so it is essential that they believe you are who you say you are and will do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it!

The third aspect of building trust requires vulnerability and transparency.   I frame this as a “HOT” Relationship: Honesty and Openness builds Trust.  If you are able to say “I don’t know, what do you think?” when you don’t know, you will more quickly build the trust required to be the leader they need and will follow.  One of the most essential qualities of leadership today is the ability to really listen.

Here's something that may be contrary to what's already posted but give it a thought.   You asked, "how can I build trust rapidly" answer is "you can't so stop trying".....

Trust is built over time and on an individual basis. there is no blanket recipe for trust that works for ALL people. So personal individual engagement will be of use. Finding out about them, how they work, what makes them tick so to speak will help but it's not the only answer. It's a process so give the process some time both for you and for them. Let them sniff you in the way that they need to so they can come to trust at their own pace. otherwise you risk forcing trust which will inevitably appear disingenuous and needy.

I LOVE that you're asking this question! One way to establish trust is by demonstrating vulnerability. Share something that demonstrates that you're human. One way to do this is by sharing your leadership point of view.... the high- and low- points of your leadership journey. The things that make you who you are. The things that shape your reactions.

Have fun!

People trust a person who they respect.  Generally, we earn respect by showing respect for others and by having integrity.
Go out of your way to do what you say you will do.  Make a point of living the values you claim to possess.

Additionally, we demonstrate respect by listening to people and valuing their input.  Also, demonstrate in your treatment of others that they are as important as you are.

Hope that helps...

Building trust is a process. You say what you will do it and do it. People will trust you once they believe in you and that takes time. Though you might be a trustworthy person this does not mean that other will see you in the same light.
In conclusion say what you will do and do it. With time people will start trusting you. I do not believe that this can be
"sped up"

Loyal trust takes time. One must be authentic, ethical, consistent and a listener. One must show a "caring" relationship with colleagues. To start building rapidly be consistent, ethical and caring.

So just to mix it up a bit, let me suggest that trying to earn trust is NOT what you want to do. Here's why: