Leadership and Trust

Here is the transcript to my audiobook chapter, Tip #14 – Leadership and Trust, from my book, 52 Leadership Tips That Will Change How You Lead Others. You can find the entire audiobook for free on YouTube by clicking here.

Trust is the glue that makes effective leadership possible. The American Heritage Dictionary defines trust as a firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or a thing. Another definition given is the condition and resulting obligation of having confidence placed in another. Without this bond of trust present in a culture, leadership is replaced by mere formal autocratic power. The head of one nation in our present world controls his people with so little trust that he regularly executes his closest generals and replaces them with a new generation of subordinates. They only survive until he feels suspicious of their loyalty or talents. Thankfully, this is an extreme example, but it reveals a dysfunctional environment permeated by mistrust.

Co-workers initially give trust to a leader in deference to their role or position. However, this is not always true. It is a mistake to take it for granted. How can a leader build trust? Here are a few points to ponder.

Be Truthful.

This may seem obvious, but unfortunately, many leaders forget the importance of this quality. Being untruthful may work for a while, but eventually, others will lose respect for you. Both trust and truth are built upon the same ethical foundation of integrity. You must be perceived as someone who tells the truth, even if it is sometimes difficult to express. Most individuals will be more accepting of learning something they don’t want to hear from you than finding out you’re lying. This includes being considered fair and objective towards others in difficult situations.

Be Open.

Keep people informed as to what you are thinking. Mistrust often comes from what people don’t know more than from what they do know. If others perceive or learn that you’re hiding information from them, you will be branded as deceitful and secretive. Be candid about problems and disclose relevant information you have. If asked to reveal information you hold in confidence about another, it is best to say you cannot violate a confidence. Obviously, there is a need to balance being open with maintaining confidentiality about information shared with you.

Be a Promise Keeper.

Others listen to you more carefully than you realize. When you make a promise, other coworkers need to see you as dependable. As the old saying goes, promises made must be promises kept. To maintain trust, you must keep your word and fulfill your obligations. What about the rare situation where, due to unforeseen circumstances, the original promise you made cannot be kept? Don’t simply ignore the original promise or pretend you never made it. Acknowledge you made the promise, explain why you are unable to keep it at this time. Trust includes being consistent about the way you act and maintaining predictable behavior rather than irrational behavior.

Be Sensitive.

Showing others you care and expressing mature emotions helps to build trust. If you present only hard facts, you will come across as distant. Respect for you will increase when people see you as a real person with human sensitivities toward their needs.

Be Competent.

People naturally respect confident individuals. Demonstrate your technical and professional skills, and you’ll earn the admiration of others as a leader. Be sure to develop your inner personal and communication skills. Coworkers feel good about working with confident, caring leaders and are more apt to trust them.

Consider that it was Peter Block who wrote, “Trust comes out of the experience of pursuing what is true.”

Share Our Software With Your Network