Thoughts on Leadership: How to Build Trust in Your Leadership

If people don't trust you, why would they ever follow you? The first critical job of any leader is to inspire trust. People simply won't recognize you as their leader unless they trust you. And that trust has to run across intellect, ethics and morals. Trust is confidence born of two dimensions: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, motive and intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, skills, results and track record. Both dimensions are vital.

Leadership and trust go hand-in-hand. Whether you are a minister or a corporate CEO, you have to work to build that trust. It's not just implied. How do you do that? The following are 13 common behaviors of trusted leaders around the world that build and maintain trust from others.

  1. Talk straight
  2. Demonstrate respect
  3. Create transparency
  4. Right wrongs
  5. Show loyalty
  6. Deliver results
  7. Get better
  8. Confront reality
  9. Clarify expectation
  10. Practice accountability
  11. Listen first
  12. Keep commitments
  13. Extend trust

When you adopt these ways of behaving, it's like making deposits into a "trust account" of another party. Remember that the 13 behaviors always need to be balanced by each other and that any behavior pushed to the extreme can become a weakness.

Depending on your roles and responsibilities, you may have more or less influence on others. However, you can always have extraordinary influence on your starting points:

Self-Trust - the confidence you have in yourself and in your ability to set and achieve goals, to keep commitments, to walk your talk, and also with your ability to inspire trust in others.

Relationship Trust - how to establish and increase the trust accounts we have with others.

The job of a leader is to go first, to extend trust first. Not a blind trust without expectations and accountability, but rather a "smart trust" with clear expectations and strong accountability built into the process. The best leaders always lead with a decided tendency to trust, as opposed to a tendency not to trust. As Craig Weatherup, former CEO of PepsiCo said, "Trust cannot become a performance multiplier unless the leader is prepared to go first."

The best leaders recognize that trust impacts us 24/7, 365 days a year. It supports and affects the quality of every relationship, every communication, every work project, every business venture, and every effort in which we are engaged. It changes the quality of every present moment and alters the course and outcome of every future moment of our lives - both personally and professionally. I am convinced that in every situation, nothing is as fast as the speed of trust.