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Tim McDermott “Leadership: Breaking Trust – And Ways To Rebuild It”

Leadership is hard. And it’s even harder when you break trust. Sometimes as leaders we don’t even know we are breaking trust.


Below are behaviors that, if go unchecked, will break trust with your team.  I call them TrustBusters.  Read through them and see if they apply to your leadership style.  I have also included some practical advice on how you can overcome them and build trust with your team.


TrustBusters (and ways to rebuild it)

I must approve every decision. 

(You don’t have to approve every decision, you just need to make sure every decision gets made.  Delegate authority and the power to make decisions.)


I must attend every meeting.

(Go to meetings where you can add value.  Consider some brief meeting drop-ins to encourage the team and the work they are doing.)


I make quick decisions before I ask questions.

(Nothing kills trust more than not listening.  Jumping to wrong conclusions hurts future approachability.)


I have a “yes” leadership team.

(You are in an industry of conflict avoidance.  Healthy conflict is the sign of a thriving organization.  Don’t be the “emperor with no clothes”…)


I correct employees who are two levels or more below my position.

(If you want to make your managers feel valueless, then start managing their employees.  They will wonder why they are there.)


Sometimes I display dishonest behavior outside of work.

(Remember the story you told your staff about how you get free cable and the cable company doesn’t know about it?  Yes, that story just cost you integrity points with your team.)


I change my mind a lot based on the last conversation I have with someone.

(It’s hard for the team to follow a leader who seems to be chasing cats.  You can listen and gather info, but don’t make a decision until you get more information.)


I bring up other employee’s bad behavior when I talk to one of my employees.

(Your staff is smart.  If you talk about someone behind their back, they will assume you talk about them to someone else when they aren’t around.)


There is no one in my life who can tell me no and it will stick.

(Extremely poor behavior and bad choices follow someone who is not accountable.)


I don’t tell staff about decisions the board or leadership has made.

(Explaining “why” is a key building block to building trust.  Let your staff know so they can understand and also be your ambassadors to the public.)


I talk a lot about myself and what I have done.

(Remember, it’s not about you.  It’s all about Jesus and caring for them. The more you talk about yourself, the more you build space with your team.)


When in meetings, I don’t really pay attention. I am on my phone or computer returning emails, scheduling appointments, etc. during that time.

(What you do is more important than what you say.  Not only does your lack of attention disrespect those leading the meeting, it also tells the staff they are wasting their time being at the meeting.)


I promise decisions by a certain day and don’t follow through.

(This is an instant trustbuster.  Not following through tells the staff member you don’t care about them.  Not caring is a toxic attitude that will eat away the foundations of the organization.)


I don’t include prayer or God as part of my regular conversations.

(You’re at a Christian ministry.  Calling on God shouldn’t be something you do only at Sharathon but a part of your everyday leadership.  The more you depend on God and trust Him, the more the staff will trust you.)


Remember, your staff will trust you as much as you trust them.  The more trust you have in them, the more trust they will have in you.


Tim McDermott has been a broadcast leader for 40 years. He is now a consultant working with GMs/CEOs and nonprofit leaders to help them solve the challenges they face. He can be reached at Tim@TimMcDermottConsulting.com

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