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Industry Voices: Without trust, you cannot lead

Janice Quigg
Industry Voices: Without trust, you cannot lead

In this final column of my five-part leadership series, I will explore the "D" of my leadership model: LEAD (Leading with your heart; Excelling at conflict resolution; Adding value by serving others; Developing trust), developing trust.

Trust makes leadership possible. Exceptional leaders understand that without trust they cannot lead their employees.

In the first column, I set out John Maxwell’s five levels of leadership (1. position; 2. permission; 3. production; 4. people development; and 5. pinnacle).

Leaders who fail to develop the trust of their employees will remain at Level 1 of the leadership pyramid because they are leaders by their title and position alone. Employees follow them because they must not because they want to.

As you become more skilled in developing the trust of your employees, you will move up the leadership pyramid and your organization will experience many benefits. Such benefits often include less absenteeism, less sick time, less turnover, increased productivity and profitability.

Leaders must appreciate that building trust is hard work but worth the effort because, without it, moving up the leadership pyramid is near impossible.

Today, I want to discuss four keys to developing the trust of your employees: 1. Be truthful, 2. Keep your commitments, 3. Walk the talk and 4. Create an environment of accountability.

Be truthful

To develop trust, you must always be honest with your employees. Be honest, even when it may be hard for them to hear what you must say. However, being honest does not mean being rude or abusive. Exceptional leaders communicate with honesty and sensitivity. Being supportive of your employees, even in the face of mistakes, does wonders for building trust with your employees.

Keep your commitments

Talk is cheap if it is not backed up by the corresponding action. Do not tell your employees you are going to do something unless you are fully prepared to follow through. Know that if you break a commitment, it can very quickly destroy the trust you have been developing with your team. For example, if you tell your people that you will be holding site meetings every Monday morning and that they will be no longer than 60 minutes because their time is valuable and then you consistently hold meetings that go well past the hour, you will lose the trust.

Walk the talk

Remember the leaders of a construction company set the tone for the organization. If the leaders talk about creating a culture of respect and collegiality and then walk through the halls of the organization without even saying hello to their employees, their employees will not trust them and will not look to them for leadership. Employees will become disengaged, which is highly detrimental to the productivity and profitability of the company.

If you advocate for teamwork, then you must reinforce this by creating an atmosphere where there are open communication and collaboration on projects. Also, be sure to acknowledge great work and you will create a culture where people feel valued and excited about coming to work on a Monday morning.

Systems of accountability

Leaders, be human. When you make an error, acknowledge it. Do not play the blame game. You will not only breach the trust of your employees; you will create resentment that can be difficult to resolve. Create a culture where there are systems in place to foster accountability on construction projects.

For example, you can encourage accountability when you have systems in place where all team members evaluate each construction project.

By assessing each project, for its strengths and weaknesses, you ensure continuous improvement internally as an organization and externally as a contractor or subcontractor.

In summary, if you implement the LEAD model in your construction company, you will see more engagement, productivity, profitability and more enjoyment at the place where you and your people spend the majority of your waking hours.

Janice Quigg has extensive experience as a lawyer, coach, speaker and author and is a Canfield Certified Trainer who specializes in not only constructively resolving conflict but also teaches how to embrace it and use it to serve an organization’s goals. For more information visit Send comments to

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