Trust is the foundation for every team. As I work with more and more leaders, I continue to be surprised at just how much emotional intelligence plays a role. If you want to build a high-performance team, you need to build trust. And the best way to do so is to use your emotional intelligence (which by the way is something you CAN improve!).
Here are ten strategies for using emotional intelligence to build trust with your team:
1. Develop empathy by understanding your team's perspective.
Build stronger relationships by fostering a sense of connection with team members. If you're people feel heard, they will weigh in. To implement this strategy, actively listen to team members and show empathy and understanding. If this isn't natural for you, get coaching or find resources to improve your listening.
2. Adapt your communication style to meet individual team members' needs.
Do you write emails differently for one team member than for another? What about one-on-one meetings? Take something like the DISC assessment with your team to understand them better. Then apply this everywhere you can. If you're not, it's like you're speaking English to one person who only speaks Thai. And you're speaking Spanish to someone else who is an English speaker. No wonder there are miscommunications.
3. Be an 'untriggerable leader'?
When your team turns up to work, do they know which 'you' they're going to get? How 'triggerable' are you? How often do you lose control and feel irrational? Emotionally intelligent leaders build trust by working on their emotional control. The more control you have over your emotions the more your team will trust you.
4. Prioritize self-care to develop greater emotional resilience and self-awareness.
As leaders we love talking about important decisions. Vision, mission, values, strategy. We eat it all up. But we often fail to take into account our personal wellbeing and how that affects our decision making. Make time for relaxation, exercise, or other self-care practices so you make the best decisions possible.
5. Share personal stories or anecdotes to build rapport and connection with your team.
Every society in history uses story-telling. There's no more powerful way to communicate a value than through story-telling. I find a lot of leaders underestimate this. Change how you communicate to increase story-telling everywhere possible within your team.
6. Actively listen to team members and validate their emotions to foster trust.
When leaders show that they value team members' emotions, it helps to create a more positive and trusting work environment. Take time to listen to team members and acknowledge their feelings.
7. Address negative emotions or conflicts head-on to prevent issues from escalating.
Team members appreciate a courageous leader. Have courage and 'go there' when there's underlying tension. If you have a toxic team member who brings negative emotions into conversations all the time, confront them gently. Your other team members will appreciate it.
8. Find common ground with team members to create a more relaxed and positive work environment.
You want people in your team who are very different to you. But emotional intelligence means finding common ground. What DO you have in common with your team? Take an interest in your team members' personal lives and hobbies and find shared interests.
9. Take an interest in team members' personal lives and experiences to foster a sense of community and collaboration.
This expands on the previous point. Don't just find common ground, find out what makes your team tick. Do they love golf? Did they grow up fishing? Is their favourite thing in the world a trip somewhere with their family? Find out what makes them tick and then talk to them about it. Go to an extra level by rewarding them or recognizing them based on what makes them tick.
10. Model the behaviors you expect from your team to build trust and inspire greater commitment and loyalty.
Emotional intelligence means doing what you say. Nothing erodes trust faster than saying one thing goes for your team and then acting in a contrary fashion. Consistently demonstrate your values and beliefs in your own actions.
By implementing these strategies, leaders can use (and improve) their emotional intelligence and create a more positive, collaborative work environment. Developing trust with your team takes time and effort, but the benefits are clear. If you can build trust in your team, you'll feel a new momentum in everything you do with them.