There are a number of essential qualities that good leaders should possess, and among the top of those is honesty. In the midst of corporate corruption and increasingly deceptive practices, employees of all ages value honest, transparent leaders.

How important is it for our current and future workforce? A recent worldwide study  of Gen “Y” and Gen “Z”ers by Millennial Branding and Randstad reveals that just over half (52%) of Gen Y and Gen Z indicated that honesty is THE most important quality for good leaders.

In this post, we will take a look at the importance of honesty in leadership and how you can cultivate trust with your team.

Why Is Honesty Important in Leadership?

Honesty is a fundamental characteristic of effective leadership. It is essential for a leader to be truthful and transparent in their interactions with their team, stakeholders, and society at large. Honesty in leadership is important for several reasons, including:

Building trust

Honesty is critical in building trust, which is essential for any successful relationship. Leaders who are honest with their team and stakeholders create a positive work environment and foster open communication. When a leader is truthful, their team is more likely to trust them and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns.

Setting an example

Leaders who are honest set an example for their team. When a leader is transparent and truthful, their team is more likely to follow their lead and act with integrity. This, in turn, can foster a culture of honesty and integrity within the organization.

Encouraging feedback

Honesty encourages feedback and open communication. When leaders are honest, they create an environment where their team feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns. This can help identify problems early on and prevent them from escalating into bigger issues.

Fostering accountability

Honesty fosters accountability. When leaders are honest, they hold themselves and their team accountable for their actions. This can help create a culture of responsibility, where everyone takes ownership of their work and strives to achieve their goals.

In a nutshell, honesty is crucial for effective leadership. It builds trust, sets an example, encourages feedback, and fosters accountability. Leaders who are honest and transparent are more likely to inspire their team and achieve their organization’s goals.

Honesty in Leadership: Three Ways to Gain the Trust of Others

The importance of honesty in leadership cannot be overstated. Whether it is business, politics, or any other leadership structure, people want to follow leaders that they can trust to be honest.

There are a number of ways to earn that trust. Here are some leadership tips to gain the trust of those around you:

1. Earn the Trust of Others

When you first step into a leadership role, assume that people don’t completely trust you. And why should they? Trust requires displaying honesty and forthrightness in every situation. If you practice honesty in all of your interactions, it won’t take long for those around you to see that you are trustworthy.

2. Don’t Try to Cover Your Tracks

When dealing with mistakes, it can be very difficult to be honest, especially if the mistake is primarily yours. Leaders are tasked with trying new things and fine-tuning processes that could be improved. This trial-and-error approach will inevitably lead to a mistake at some point. And that’s okay. What isn’t okay is trying to cover your tracks, blame someone else, or deny that your idea isn’t working. Own up to your mistakes openly and your team will respect and appreciate you for it. You will also be setting a great example for others to step out and try new things, knowing that it is alright to make a mistake once in a while.

 3. Be Transparent

Clearly lay out what you would like to accomplish and how you and others can set out to accomplish the goals you have presented. If you have concerns, don’t keep them from your team until an issue boils over. People deserve to know what is going on. When you bottle up concerns or problems, whether it be with the organization as a whole or your department, you will lose the trust and loyalty of those around you when they are blindsided by a major problem like layoffs or other pitfalls that affect them on a large scale. Be candid, open, and even-keel when presenting an issue that your organization or team is facing. By doing this, you build trust and loyalty among those whom you are leading.

By practicing honest, transparent leadership, you are setting yourself up as a leader that others want to follow and enabling them to focus on what they need to achieve with confidence and less stress.

Develop Your Personal Leadership Skills

Are you looking to fine-tune your leadership skills? We offer organization leadership training as well as executive coaching and individual leadership development. Our flexible, individualized leadership development programs are designed to help you succeed no matter where you are. Contact Greg L. Thomas, our leadership and collaboration consultant, to learn how he can help you or your organization develop leadership to its fullest potential.

*Image © Stuart Miles /