October 2015 | Management
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributors: Adam Galinsky, Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business and chair of the Management Division at the Columbia Business School; Maurice Schweitzer, Cecilia Yen Koo Professor at the Wharton School: authors of Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both.
Use simple verbal and non-verbal cues to build trust with your team.
Trust is essential for a leader’s success, but two misconceptions often stand in the way of leaders gaining the trust they need. First, they mistakenly believe that developing trust is a long, slow process that has to evolve over time; and second, they expect that as long as they are trustworthy, people will naturally trust them.
New research shows that building trust doesn’t have to take years, and even the most trustworthy people don’t automatically win trust — especially from people they work with — no matter how much time is involved.
The researchers found that there are specific actions you can take to build trust quickly — which is especially good to know when you are tasked with leading a new team or moving to a new organization.
Numerous studies show that people who inspire the most trust are those who exhibit two distinct traits: warmth and competence. We trust warm people, because we believe they care about us, and we trust competent people because they are credible, effective, and efficient. Most people inherently project one or the other. But to build strong, trusting relationships both in and out of the office, we need to project both.
Projecting warmth involves a mix of verbal and non-verbal cues. Asking about a colleague’s loved ones or inquiring about someone’s vacation plans (and listening to the responses), can show you care. Even more important than what you say, though, is what you do. Physical connection is one of the best ways to build trust, whether through handshakes, face-to-face meetings, or other efforts than show you care about the relationship.
On its surface, competence seems easier to convey. Credentials and titles are obvious signs that let others know we’re credible. But even with competence, you can project more subtle — and more powerful — cues. “Talking the talk,” or using the right jargon, is one way to do this. But you can overdo it, especially when you have already demonstrated high competence and don’t score high with others on warmth. In those cases, conveying vulnerability can build trust even more effectively.
In an age where it’s all too easy to get lured into a sense of false intimacy created through social media and email, real trust can be a rare commodity. By deliberately and consciously taking steps to improve in each of these four areas, you can quickly and effectively build trust with your team and other colleagues.
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions at Wharton Executive Education. It is jointly sponsored by Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, Wharton Professor of Management Michael Useem, Director. Nano Tools Academic Director is Professor John Paul MacDuffie, Professor of Management at the Wharton School and Director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation (PVMI) at Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management.
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