Building Trust While Leading Remotely

By IPATracey, Monday, 25th May 2020 | 0 comments
Filed under: 2020.
Building Trust While Leading Remotely.

Do you have this nagging feeling that ‘If I can’t see the team, they could be up to anything?’ If you have this feeling now, chances are you had this feeling prior to current circumstances of enforced isolation. Counter-intuitively, for many, remote working provides a great opportunity to build more trusting work environments and greater impact in your leadership by taking some simple steps to enhance this critical leadership and organisational competency.

As Chekhov said, 'You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.’

Why is trust so important? Because it is the foundation of all relationships. The ability to get your job done depends on working in some way with others. Therefore, building good relations with individuals and in your teams is essential to your success and will generate a range of individual and organisational benefits.

Tell me more then about trust!

More trusting environments allow people to think and speak more freely. This openness improves the quality of decisions and creates the environment for people to take more responsibility for issues and actions. A better thinking environment enhances creativity and resourcefulness, which are what leaders often say they want in their teams and which are also vital for addressing the business issues and challenges many face. As humans, we are social beings. More openness and trust helps people build a greater sense of connection and purpose together, which leads to better performance.

Needless to say, an environment of distrust curtails open thinking and discussion, and sends people into a protectionist/defensive mode, which does little to build understanding of different perspectives. This negatively impacts the teamworking dynamic and limits your ability to benefit from the full potential of all on the team. It also limits team responsiveness and robust decision-making.

More research is emerging from the field of neuroscience which greatly enhances our understanding of how and why certain reactions are triggered in the brain, their impact and resulting behaviours. At the same time as looking for a connection with others, we have an innate, instinctive mode which scans the environment for potential threats. Understanding this can help us learn to send the ‘right’ signals for trust and learn how to effectively respond to ensure we build mutual trust.

There are a number of easy steps you can take to build and show trust. You start by looking at your mindset and how you think, as this shapes how you speak and behave.

Ask yourself some initial questions, such as ‘What is my picture of leadership?’ — that I should be ‘all knowing and always have the answers to tell people what to do’ or do I think leadership is a ‘dynamic, collective process where I am a catalyst for action, growth, performance’? ‘Where does my need for control come from?’ ‘What am I concerned will happen if I give more trust?

The word ‘give’ is important. While we think people should ‘earn’ trust, we also have to give it, which means we have to ‘let go’ of something in order to give. What do you need to ‘let go of’ in order to give more trust?

Then focus on:

  1. Intentionally build relationships – be interested in others, who they are, what they bring to the team. Your warm curiosity shows openness and respect of others.
  2. Role model – practising what you want to inspire and ensuring there is no difference between what you say and do is the biggest inspiration for trust and performance. It’s that simple!
  3. Connect with others and show you are human – this is a strength in leadership. People need to ‘connect’ with others, so give them something to ‘connect’ with. Understand the demands and stresses on them as they cope to live and work differently at the moment.
  4. Give people discretion in how they do their work – this promotes responsibility and innovation. Explain any concerns and discuss workable oversight approaches to keep both sides happy.
  5. Open communications – is about dialogue; not monologues where you speak at people to score points and take positions. Listen attentively to others. It’s amazing what you’ll hear and learn.

Remote working for vast numbers of people may become the norm and it certainly will be for the coming months. Now presents an opportunity to build the type of working relationships and environments that allow more people to thrive, more free expression of commitment and energy. This will spur people to go above and beyond the call of duty to give more, be more creative and innovative, and thus be more responsive to the inevitable transformational change in organisations coming down the tracks. By giving you will gain in return.

For further information on the above post, please contact Siobhán Bradley, Senior Leadership and Managment Specialist via sbradley@ipa.ie