19 Ways New Executives Can Establish Trust Across Their Organization

Posted: 27th February 2024

Stepping into a new executive role is a pivotal moment for any leader. New executives must navigate through unfamiliar territory, embarking on a deliberate journey to establish trust from the outset.

To help, 19 Forbes Coaches Council members explore some practical and proven strategies that new executives can implement to build trust and credibility. From fostering open communication channels to actively listening and empathizing with team members, these tips can help new leaders quickly forge strong connections with their teams and lay the groundwork for collaborative success.

1. Be Open, Reliable And Accessible

A leader should: 1. Organize open forums that showcase vulnerability through active listening to team feedback and promote open communication, 2. Exhibit reliability by setting clear, visionary goals and consistently achieving them, demonstrating commitment and strategic foresight, 3. Maintain accessibility by engaging regularly with team members at all levels, ensuring openness and approachability. – Farshad AslTop Leaders, Inc.

2. Honor The Past And Cocreate The Future

Listen and learn! Listen and learn! Listen and learn! During your first 30 days, focus on understanding and getting to know your people and the current flow of the system. Every new leader is coming into an existing system that is already on the move—positive, challenging and neutral. Honor the past, embrace the now and cocreate the future. Trust is built on how people experience you. – Jodie CharlopExceleration Partners

3. Have A Genuine Desire To Know The People

The most important first step for a new executive leader is to get to know the team by meeting individually and in groups. Listening to and observing the dynamic and interaction within and between the teams is important to understanding the living and breathing culture of the organization. A genuine desire to know the people and meet them where they are is the key that unlocks the door to trust. – Lillit CholakianNewGen Global Leaders

4. Value Everyone’s Input

A great first step for a new executive to take to quickly establish trust is to begin by asking team members what they perceive to be working, what could be better and what might the team member suggest being done differently. Authentically listen while you establish that whether or not you decide to move forward with their ideas their input is valued. Everyone’s role is key to the team’s success. – Meridith AlexanderG.R.I.T. Mindset Academy

5. Recognize That Connection Does Not Equal Trust

The first step is to accept that trust is not quickly established. Rushed connections can lead to unintended impacts, like an unsustainable or inequitable degree of leader visibility and accessibility. Moreover, a connection does not equal trust. The former can be accelerated, but the latter develops both organically and mutually. Cocreate relationships in earnest—and be patient. Trust will grow. – Ophelia ByersSitchRoom®

6. Meet With Team Members In Person

A new executive leader can quickly establish trust by interacting with team members in person in one-on-one or group meetings. While trust-building takes time, personal interaction—e.g., a handshake, a formal or informal meeting over coffee or lunch—can boost trust-building, as opposed to the virtual alternatives, which prolong the process and might not work at all for some. – Stephan LendiNewbury Media & Communications GmbH

7. Discuss Each Employee’s Motivations And Challenges

When a leader encounters a new team to lead, the first thing needed is to sit down with each of them to learn about their mood, future aspirations and any other personal aspects that allow the leader to understand the team member’s motivations and challenges in performing their tasks. Building trust is the first and most important step in strengthening leadership. – José Luís González RodriguezActionCOACH

8. Use Self-Disclosure To Introduce Yourself

Self-disclosure is a great way to establish trust. It’s about showing who you are beyond your title. We coach our leaders to introduce themselves to their teams including both their professional journey and their hobbies, pets, families and other safe shares. I still get emails from clients who use this technique years later and have implemented it throughout their teams to build trust. – Susan HobsonElite High Performance Inc.

9. Avoid Being Overly Professional And Perfect

Open your heart; being overly professional and perfect is old, and frankly, a hindrance to building trust. Know your boundaries, but letting employees know you’re on a learning journey just like they are can take the pressure off and open up the conversation. – Sonika AsifLush Empires

10. Become The Student

The first step for a new executive leader to establish trust is to become a student. Active listening, observing and learning from their team is a critical entry point to getting acquainted with people, challenges, policies, procedures and the day-to-day efforts of a team. Executives are hired for a reason, but if they enter as the most intelligent person, they are in the wrong room. – Alecia WellenAlecia Wellen Coaching

11. Be Curious About What You Don’t Know

Ask questions and really listen. Too often, new executives want to prove how much they know and they want to hit the ground running in a new job. No matter how much experience you have, this is a new situation with new people and new challenges. Be curious and set out on a crusade to learn what you don’t know about this new organization, the people, the challenges and your best role in it. – Carol SabiaSheerLine Associates

12. Empower Your Team

The first tool to use is to empower your team. Take time to understand (listen and reflect) who your team is and where your team is coming from as individuals. That means investing time in the process. Their history, main sets of strengths and values, once aligned with the leader’s expertise and his vision, will create a truly genuine dynamic. Consistency will only solidify it. Start with caring. – Julien FortuitJulien Fortuit Agency

13. Present Your Employees With A Guide On How You Work

The first step an executive leader can take to establish trust with team members is to share a “user manual” on how they work. This manual can be shared in a team meeting, allowing team members to digest the information; the leader can probe for follow-up questions one-on-one. The manual should highlight leadership and communication styles, what energizes and drains them and their team expectations. – Jill HelmerJill Helmer Consulting

14. Take Walks To Talk With Employees

Management by walking around might sound cliche, but if you do it right, you’ll build trust in your people. Every day, when you come to work and before you leave, walk around and talk to employees working. Start every conversation with something about them or their family, then talk about work. Leave the building and go where people work in the field. – John KnottsCrosscutter Enterprises

15. Build A Foundation Of Clear Communication

A good first step in establishing trust with team members is to foster open and transparent communication where the leader articulates their vision and expectations about the goals and results of their team and gives each individual the opportunity to voice their thoughts, concerns and expectations. Clear communication provides a foundation for building trust and increases engagement. – Paula Vidal CastelliPaula Vidal Castelli Intl., LLC

16. Listen To Understand And Use That Insight To Help

Talk to your people—regularly. Take a genuine interest and listen to understand (not respond). Use the insight you gain to help them do the best work and clear away frustrations. Don’t allow organizational norms to get in the way; challenge the status quo and involve the team in finding solutions. – Ricky MuddimerThinking Focus

17. Leverage The Energy And Aspirations Of Your Team

Leveraging the energy and aspirations of others is a great first step for new executives. Ask team members the following question: How do you envision your contribution to this organization evolving over time? That question conveys key assumptions about one’s interest in others’ motivations, belief in their future growth and an expectation that they will expand their impact. – Matt PaeseDDI

18. Listen To Your Team And Be Curious

Listen, include and be curious. A new executive will, inevitably, have been given a charter when they join. Sharing relevant bits of the charter is a good way to include others. Spending time listening to the team—individually and collectively—and expressing curiosity goes a long way in conveying to the team that they matter. Trust will follow. – Basav Ray ChaudhuriCoach with Basav

19. Be Transparent And Vulnerable

An executive can be transparent and demonstrate vulnerability to promote trust, meet people where they are and bring them toward a clear vision. The executive and the team can move forward together with a clear purpose. – Karen TracyDr. Karen A Tracy, LLC


Source:19 Ways New Executives Can Establish Trust Across Their Organization (forbes.com)

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