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How Important is Trust?

May 15, 2019

Stephen Covey made the comment that “Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” He has also stated in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, that trust is the highest form of human motivation.

While trustworthiness is undoubtedly a key trait of effective leaders, it is also the most fragile.

There are some obvious ways in which leaders abuse trust like betraying confidence, taking ownership for work completed by others, operating in a less than transparent manner.

Trust can also be eroded slowly if team members perceive a discrepancy between a leader’s words and actions. If a leader makes a commitment for the future, employees will rightfully expect them to make good on it.

Consistency as a leader is imperative in building trust. Any change to workplace procedure or strategy needs to be communicated and implemented in a systematic and clear manner. This will work to waylay employee anxiety and gain commitment to the new direction.

Here are 10 ways effective leaders, with or without titles, foster authentic trust at work. How many apply to you?


10 Ways Effective Leaders Build Trust

1. Leaders are good at what they do. Leading by example is a great way to earn the respect and trust of team members. If you perform your job efficiently and effectively, it builds trust in your performance as a leader.

2. Leaders are passionate about their work. Passion isn't about cheerleading, platitudes, or faux enthusiasm. It comes from an inner desire, determination, and drive to get the job done and get it done well. For many, it's about making a difference or contributing to the whole. It shows up softly in some leaders; loudly in others, but it's easily discernible by anyone around them.

3. Leaders operate with self-awareness. They pay attention to the relationship between their words and actions, operating with self-alignment and behavioural integrity. They don't make promises they can't keep, or fail to take responsibility for their mistakes or shortcomings.

4. Leaders care about people. They're kind and considerate, operating with compassion and integrity. They see people as individuals, irrespective of gender, age, race or religion.

5. Leaders want the best for you. They bring out the best in others, help them apply and develop their strengths to reach their personal and professional goals. By providing challenges and opportunities, they're working to make a workplace where everyone can be successful.


6. Leaders listen. They don't listen so they can talk; they listen so they can learn. By withholding judgment, being present, and engaging in real dialogue, they embrace differences, create openness, and facilitate connection.

7. Leaders have perspective. Trustworthy leaders are able to deal with problems or crises in a calm and impartial manner. They take a step back, put issues into context, and understand that desired outcomes are not always possible.

8. Leaders manage direction and work, not people. They paint word-pictures to help people see the end vision, or "what it looks like" to hit the target. They find the fun in work by setting direction, not dictating details. They clear hurdles, reduce bureaucracy and make it easier, not harder, for people to get their work done.

9. Leaders say thank you. They appreciate, value, and acknowledge the efforts and contributions of those they work with. In the words of Arnold H. Glasgow, "A good leader takes a little more than his share of blame; a little less than his share of credit."

10. Leaders see beyond the self. For these leaders work is not about promotions, bonuses, or personal achievement; it's about something bigger. They find the link between the why and the what and help others view their work from a more holistic perspective. We all need a reason to get up in the morning. There are some leaders who enable us to see why and how our work, does indeed, matter.