Trust. It’s one of the fundamental ingredients of any successful relationship. Without trust, a project team can find itself spending all their time battling one another rather than getting work done. As a project manager, the culture on your team is your responsibility. As you may remember from the serpent Kaa from the Jungle Book, trust isn’t something you can create with words. Kaa asks Mowgli to trust him, all the while planning to eat him. There’s always personal risk in trust, and your people generally won’t just hand it over to you because you ask it of them. In fact, while you’re reading the rest of this blog post, why not listen to Selena Gomez‘ rendition of Kaa’s creepy, ironic song “Trust In Me“. See how it compares with the behaviours listed below, and judge for yourself whether your message would lead your people to success, or lure them to a slow demise.
40 Ways to Lead With Trust
1. Be yourself.
2. Ask your people what they want from the project.
3. Align your people’s work to their functional managers’ goals for them.
4. Set expectations for your people at the beginning of the project.
5. Be consistent.
6. Meet individual team members for coffee or drinks.
7. Communicate “extra” rather than assuming someone already knows something.
8. Be honest.
9. Share some of your personal life.
10. Eliminate jargon from your vocabulary, and be crystal clear.
12. Remember what you told people.
13. Make good on your promises. All of them. Non-negotiable.
14. Plan your meetings ahead of time. Make agendas.
15. Be open.
16. Send review documents out well in advance of a review meeting.
17. Set minimum ground rules for communication. Build a communications plan.
18. Be firm.
19. Know your plans intimately. Then throw them out the window.
20. Establish boundaries, and stick to them.
21. Be decisive.
22. Learn to read each of your people and know what motivates them.
23. Read books on organizational behaviour and file them away in your mind.
24. Push back where appropriate.
25. Do periodic, reasonable favours for others.
26. Call favours in when you need them.
27. Be resilient.
28. Get your hands dirty where you can.
29. Shield your people from unnecessary demands.
30. Maintain constant, strict control of large meetings.
31. Minimize large meetings.
32. Celebrate every success, even the small ones.
33. Encourage and reward initiative.
34. Know your personal weaknesses and mitigate them at the beginning of the project.
35. Be compassionate.
36. Stay informed on what’s happening outside your area of responsibility.
37. Develop a third eye that watches out for risks.
38. Use diplomacy where necessary, without losing your message.
39. Be direct.
40. Let your team see what you do on their behalf.
Incidentally, in addition to creating the character Kaa the Indian python, Rudyard Kipling also had something to say on the subject of leadership and trust (I’m taking a few liberties here, with Kipling’s poem, If):
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”
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Kicking the Can:
Well, I’ve offered up 40 things you can do to help build trust on your project team. Is there anything I missed that you’d like to add to the list? Or something I should take off?
What are your feelings on building a culture of trust? Chime in below, and don’t forget that sharing is sexy!