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AORN Blog - The Periop Life

3 Ways Leaders Can Build Team Trust

Building Trust
May 23, 2021

Pam Hunt
Pamela S. Hunt, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

In times of crisis the qualities of a great leader don’t change – those qualities are challenged. And the leaders who have a “trust bank” with their teams are best equipped to withstand the challenge and be more effective, says Pamela S. Hunt, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, a consultant on leadership development.

Regardless of which style of leadership you use, Hunt says, it’s crucial that your team knows they can count on you in any difficult situation.

Hunt recommends these three actions to bolster trust with your team.

  1. Show them you’re there for them – literally.
    “Presence is the currency of leadership,” Hunt says. Even if you’re unable to directly change the situation, if you’re willing to be with the team and help in any way you can, your presence will be recognized and appreciated.
  2. Connect actions to purpose.
    In a time of crisis, people often don’t have the mental bandwidth to connect the dots between what they’re doing now and its meaning and value. Some may only see what they can’t do and struggle to recognize the good they have accomplished. They focus on the patients they lost, and not the ones they saved.

    As a leader, being positive while also being authentic helps team members see the bigger picture even in the face of challenges.
  3. Get emotional support for your team.
    Nurses often don’t seek support for their mental health and well-being, so leaders need to be proactive about recognizing the signs of distress and when it’s time to intervene. Be prepared to bring in the necessary resources to help them deal with the stress and anxiety that comes with their work.

    Trust is not earned when you do what you say you’re going to do once – it’s when you do what you say you’re going to do time and time again.  When you take these actions regularly, your team knows your word stands true over time, Hunt says. They’ll understand you’re doing the best with the situation at hand and maintain their trust in you.

Hunt will explore other qualities of true leadership at the Leadership Summit, August 7-10, as part of Global Surgical Conference & Expo in Orlando, FL. Also, hear more about Hunt’s leadership approach on the Periop Talk  podcast, “Make a Business Case for Quality”.

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