Top Seven Ways Leaders Can Destroy Trust

BY Greg Gregory
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Trust is an underlying challenge for all teams at every level of an organization. Perhaps we just want to cover our back side. Perhaps we are skeptical of others. Or perhaps it is simply our nature. Regardless, fostering it is a key leadership development task for creating a winning culture within every team and a challenge that must be met.

Most people are trustworthy, and we are not talking about trusting a teammate to do their job. The kind of trust that can make or break a team is vulnerability trust, which means trusting your teammates with personal information about you and believing that they will not use it against you or others, now or in the future.

Leaders inherently face the challenge of building and fostering trust among employees. Here are some powerful mishaps that it can destroyed within your team.

  1. Not communicating with others – When a leader closes the proverbial door and shuts down communication, trust erodes almost immediately. The more the leader opens up on personal issues, the quicker the team trusts.
  2. Twisting the truth – when leaders twist, or try to shape, the truth to their preference rather than remaining transparent, real trust erodes rapidly.
  3. Not listening to team feedback – Many times, employees have amazing ideas and can, in fact, help the team grow. When the leader dismisses ideas from team members or, even worse, represents those ideas as their own, trust collapses. In most cases, listening and then disregarding ideas is worse than never listening in the first place
  4. Holding back information – When the leader withholds information from a single person or the team, trust fades and respect goes right along with it, effectively eliminating any influence the leader may have previously developed.
  5. Lack of integrity – I define integrity as doing what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it, even when no one else is watching. When a leader behaves without integrity, trust simply vanishes.
  6. Breaking confidentially – There are three things, listed below, that a person can do when someone confides in them. From a leadership development standpoint, the first two will establish confidentially and foster trust. With the third, it is destroyed. (a) Let it go in one ear and out the other. (b) Let it go in one ear, digest the information and say nothing. © Let it go in one ear and out the mouth to others.
  7. Being a micro manager – Remember that the majority of employees truly want to do a good job. When you micromanage them, they typically infer that they are not trusted, in turn, they fail to trust the leader.

Trust is only as good as the people on the team and the example and expectations of that team’s leader. Fostering it is an ongoing effort because, even when it is fostered among everyone, it can easily be destroyed.