Importance of Trust for Leadership

December 2, 2019

Trustworthiness is the most important and admirable qualities that you can have as a leader. An extraordinary leader is dependable and a person of their word. They are consistent in their actions time after time. They know what they know and are not afraid to ask for help when they don’t know. They seek out others to bring diversity in thought and action into the success of an objective. They are positioned throughout your organization as direct reports, peers, co-workers and those you report into as supervisors. Your sphere of influence is full of leaders. The question at hand is: “Are you considered one?”

Becoming Trustworthy
To be considered trustworthy, you should stand by your promises and commitments at all times. It is important to know that that being trusted is different from being overly accommodating to others.

If somebody comes to you with a problem and you can help them solve this problem can you be trusted to help them? For example, if you promise to help them, do you consistently follow through with your commitment? If you cannot keep your commitment, do you let the person know … or do you let them discover too late that you will not keep your commitment?

If you commit to your supervisor that you will get a project done by Friday, do everything within your power to get it done. If you promise to improve working conditions by a certain timeframe, stick to the course and communicate with your team along the way.

Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”.

Some make promises to get on the good side of a person; however, have no intent to keep the promise. This does not build trust, confidence or loyalty. You will lose not just the trust but the respect of others around you as well; and, word will travel …

Your Reputation Depends on Your Trustworthiness
The true metal of a person’s principles is not tested when things are sailing smoothly, but when they’re facing a storm and things are falling apart.

It is convenient and somewhat easy, to throw your colleagues and subordinates under the bus when something goes wrong at work. Throwing anyone under a bus (whether they deserve it or not) is never an extraordinary leader’s solution. While it may feel like you’re off the hook … that feeling is only temporary. And remember, people are watching and people remember. Even the ones who are not directly affected by your betrayal of trust, they will become wary of trusting you in the future.

No matter the size of an organization, people will see and know how you’ve behaved and broken promises. Word gets around, gets around fast and betrayal has a long…long memory. Managers and employees with a reputation for breaking promises are never trusted with key responsibilities. This comes up during promotion “table talks”, water cooler conversation and even on the golf course. While you may never be told … but it can be the reason for a stalled career.

Team Commitment
Leaders who are trusted by their followers can get more productive results. When your team has trust in your abilities and know that you will look out for them as well, they will put in the best efforts on every job.

There are hundreds of examples in the business world, sports, and military battles where under-skilled teams were able to achieve great results because they had complete faith in their leader. We also find many examples where even the most skilled teams with epic individuals failed because everyone was pushing their weights in different directions because they didn’t trust their leader.

Mediation, Problem Solving and Trust Go Hand in Hand
In order to resolve problems between your team, you need to earn the trust of all your team members. Suppose that you have an issue with a colleague at work. Would you go to a supervisor you did not trust? Your sphere-of-influence (supervisor, peers, team members, direct reports, clients, customers, stakeholders) see things the same way.

Let’s face it, there will always be issues to solve in the workplace. Your team (sphere of influence) should be able to trust you their leader. They should have confidence in approaching you, and if you are not trusted, you won’t be able to find out about problems or solve them effectively.

Building trust in the workplace begins with the leadership. A study of trust reported in Psychology Today concluded that leaders who build trust operate with three basic principles:

The article goes on to say that effective leaders understand workplace trust and grow trust in 10 basic ways:

  1. They are good at what they do. Competence on the job is a “litmus test for believability.”
  2. They are passionate about their work. Enthusiasm for a goal inspires trust by making actions directed and predictable.
  3. They operate with self-awareness. They don’t commit what they can’t control or make impossible promises. They don’t fail to own their shortcomings or mistakes. They are careful with their words.
  4. They care about people around them. They can be counted on to act with compassion.
  5. They want the best for others around them. They provide appropriate challenges and opportunities.
  6. They listen. They are able to withhold judgment until the dialog is complete. They embrace differences, thereby facilitating openness.
  7. They have a robust perspective that goes beyond immediate crises and situations.
  8. They manage direction and work, but do not micromanage people. They “leave the fun in work by setting direction, not dictating details.”
  9. They say thank you. They acknowledge contributions and efforts.
  10. They see beyond themselves. They perceive the workplace as more than their own advancement and work to achieve larger goals.

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