Practical Techniques for Building Trust (feat. Sue Dyer)

Apr 18, 2023

Experts talk about the importance of trust, but very few actually discuss how to build it.


Yet trust is a determining success factor and competitive advantage in today’s volatile environment.


Sue Dyer, MBA, MIPI is one of the world’s leading experts on trust. She is the author of the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon best-selling book, “The Trusted Leader: Use the Partnering Approach to Become the Trusted Leader People Want to Follow.” Sue has helped more than 48,000 executive construction leaders build a foundation of trust for next-level productivity, growth, and satisfaction. 


In this episode of The Enlightened Executive podcast, Sue shares three practical and proven techniques to establish trust. By creating common ground, fostering effective collaboration, and building alignment and focus, leaders can develop relationships of trust that lead to high performance.



1. Create Common Ground


In business, we often ignore the fact that we are interdependent. The truth is that we cannot get what we want as individuals without the help of others. The interdependent nature of business means that we cannot afford to not develop high levels of trust.


Sue’s approach to building trust starts with creating common ground. A team of individuals with varying goals, vying for control and dominance diminishes trust. We can combat this toxic dynamic and establish common ground on our teams by:


  • Clearly defining the team’s purpose and goals
  • Defining roles and responsibilities
  • Celebrating collective successes


Establishing this common ground sets the scene for developing a relationship of trust that leads to high performance. 



2. Remove the Ego from Collaboration


Collaboration is key to building trust, but egos can get in the way of effective collaboration. When working on a team, some people engage in adversarial and protective behavior like blaming, defending, and retreating. This creates a vicious cycle and wastes resources, diminishing what’s possible. Collaboration becomes more about who is “winning” rather than what the group is achieving as a whole. 


In order for collaboration to build, rather than diminish, trust, we must intentionally find ways to remove the ego from collaboration. This can be done by:


  • Focusing on group achievements
  • Clearly communicating individual expectations
  • Equipping our teams with resources to strengthen their communication skills 


Additionally, the most effective leaders lead by example. Take time to examine your participation within the organization. Are there any arenas where you model an ego-centric posture instead of a collaborative one? 



3. Build Alignment and Focus


Aligned teams are clear about their shared goal and know they each have to do their part in order to achieve it. This provides a natural common ground and focused purpose for collaboration. With alignment and focus, teams work together more effectively, achieving goals at a faster pace.


Sue refers to this as the “Nozzle Effect.” If you take a hose with water (a resource) running through it, and put a nozzle on it, creating a very narrow spray, what happens? The same amount of resources now have a huge force and greater momentum behind it. The more a team can co-create under hyper-focused goals, the less room there is for ego-induced conflict and the more momentum there is toward production. 


As Sue describes, “High trust equals high performance. If you want to blow your competitors out of the water, the higher the level of trust, the higher your momentum is going to be in your ability to perform. You’re going to get smarter because people are going to talk to each other, you’re going to get faster because people are going to coordinate better and you are going to be able to achieve things that right now would be impossible.”


When teams experience first-hand the momentum of collaborative decision-making and problem-solving, they begin to trust the collaborative process and others with diverse perspectives. 


Sue also shares…

  • The key principles of partnering.
  • The importance of prioritizing initiatives.
  • The connection between trust and fear.


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