Trust is the foundation of leadership. Without trust, it’s nearly impossible to recruit and retain followers and to implement change. Trust affects a leader’s impact and the company’s bottom line more than any other factor.
But there’s no shortcut to building trust. It has to be earned, and that process takes time. The best leaders devote consistent effort to building and maintaining trust. Here are the principles they go by:
When people experience your character, they will trust you. When you consistently do the right thing whether you feel like it or not, when your actions match your words, when you stand behind your team in every situation, you give people evidence of your character. The task of a trusted leader is to create an environment where others can do great things in safety, and character makes that possible.
When people can count on you, they will trust you. Can people rely on you? Are you consistent and dependable? A trusted leader is one who can be counted on to keep their word and say what they mean, no matter the circumstances.
When people see you genuinely care, they will trust you. If you want to build trust, demonstrate care for others—not just with lip service or in a time of particular need, but with genuine heartfelt compassion every day. Trusted leaders love people; they value connection and seeing others succeed.
When people view you as competent, they will trust you. It’s important that you know what you’re doing—and when you don’t know something, that you have the fortitude to admit it. Trusted leaders work to keep advancing their skills and give others the resources to do the same.
When people encounter your courage, they will trust you. Building trust requires the willingness to take risks and make hard decisions. Trusted leaders are courageous, and they inspire others to be courageous as well.
When people know what you’re thinking, they will trust you. If you operate with transparency and full disclosure, no one has to rely on guesswork to know what’s happening, and there’s no room for a debilitating rumor mill to take hold. Trusted leaders communicate frequently, honestly and candidly, working to make sure their team stays informed.
When people see you act with consistency, they will trust you. If you’re consistent in everything you do, you show that you hold even the little things to be important. Consistency at every level makes for greater trust and better results. Great leaders are consistent in all that they do.
As a leader, you are trusted to exactly the degree that people believe in your character, competence, courage, candor, consistency and commitment. When people trust you, they’ll do almost anything under the sun not to disappoint you.
Lead from within: The best leaders know that trust cannot be built overnight but requires time, effort, diligence and genuine character.
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