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Building Trust as a Product Leader with one (magic) Formula

Trust is such a short word with such a big impact on product leaders’ success, which depends on mastering the skill of influence without authority. The art of influencing is underpinned by being trusted by your team, stakeholders and colleagues.In this post, we’ll apply The Trust Equation, a secret formula that will help you strengthen your relationships, improve communication, to Product Leaders.

Product Leaders need to understand the business, understand the customer, understand the technology, and be the glue of all the cross-functional teams coming together. They rely on others and their respective buy-in, to get things done and projects moved forward.

Quick Review of the Trust Equation

I have been exploring the topic of trust for leaders and teams for while now, so you have many resources if you want to dig deeper.

In a nutshell, the Trust Equation helps you break down trust in 4 dimensions, 3 of which increase your level of trustworthiness and one that destroys. It’s important to note that while we call it the trust equation (or formula), we can’t control whether someone trusts us. The only thing we can control is our own assessment of trustworthiness.

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For more comprehensive review to understand types of trust, research behind it, psychology of trust and how to build trust on teams, head over to my other articles in the newsletter.

How to apply the formula for your development

As a coach, I take development seriously and here is the process I suggest you follow:

1) Assess each dimension: be honest with yourself, it is your career. If you feel you don’t have a good read, ask for feedback from your colleagues, stakeholders, your manager or use industry standards (my favourite for product are Ravi Mehta’s and Marty Cagan’s product assessments). You can also ask your mentors, industry experts and even ChatGPT on its thoughts on core competencies in your specific context.

2) Pick one area that you think will be most impactful to you, don’t try to impact all variables at once. You can get to other ones soon!

3) Create a development plan around it for next 6 month. Get into specifics, think about people, behaviours, trainings, projects, etc.

4) Check in regularly, reflect and adjust!

How to apply this… to be a trustworthy product leader

Let’s start with a more generic example- how it increase your overall trustworthiness. Here is what the dimensions look like:

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Applying the Trust Equation to being a more trustworthy product leader

How to apply this… to increase trust with their peers

If a Product Leader were to seek to increase trust with their peers, in trifecta (design & engineering), they’d want to focus on the following:

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Applying the Trust Equation to increase trust on the team

How to apply this… to increase trust with their stakeholders

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Applying the Trust Equation to increase trust with stakeholders

How to apply this… to you!

With this formula, you don’t need to guess where to get started. Start with assessing your behaviours against the dimensions and ask yourself what you can do differently to improve it.

Using the process above, try it and share in the comments what you learned!

Hi, I’m Nataliya Becker

I’m an Executive Coach & Team Facilitator. I work with growth-seeking leaders and their teams in the throws of change. Using my “nerdy mind with a hippy heart,” I bring a diverse range of analytical and intuitive approaches to 1:1 coaching, team facilitation, bespoke retreats, and leadership programming.

Ready to put this into practice? Check out my recorded LinkedIn Live here.

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