“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” – George MacDonald

Trust Overview

An important job of any leader is to develop trust in others and to be a leader who can be trusted. Trust has 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 critical to the trusting relationships that leaders must create and nurture. The primary maxim of trust is telling the truth. Nothing establishes trust as much as telling the truth and nothing damages trust more than not telling the truth.

Why Trust is Important to a Leader

Trust is doing what is right, delivering what is promised, and to be the same way every time, whatever the circumstances. A leader should strive to establish personal credibility with others. Not having trust in your team will ensure that you will not be successful because you will not be able to empower them; and you will not be able to delegate work to them. If team members cannot trust you they will be faced with a difficult decision – wait it out until you are no longer their leader, or leave the organization.

Benefits for the Leader

Having the trust of your leaders, peers, and team members is an incredible asset for the leader. Of course, you need to maintain the trust but if it is established, people will have confidence in you. They know you will do what you say you will do and will provide them the resources and guidance they need to do their job. Be careful, building a trusting relationship takes time, but it can be destroyed in a nanosecond if you are caught in a lie or a compromising situation.

Top 3 Coaches Recommendations for Trust
  1. As a leader, you should not participate in gossip, whether about other employees or customers. Be sure that if you hear gossip, you take steps to point out this is poor behavior on anyone’s part and that you will not tolerate it in your organization or team.
  2. Keep track of your commitments. Not fulfilling a commitment, even if it is trivial, can damage a trusting relationship. At a minimum, get back to the person to ensure that they know you are aware of the commitment and will get to it as soon as possible.
  3. Be a model in telling the truth. If someone tries to get you to not tell the truth (to a customer or employee), do not become a part to it. It is one thing to not be able to disclose something; it is another to tell a lie and potentially damage trust relationships.
Measure and Improve Your Trust Skills

Be determined to improve your trust skills and behaviors. Take the short self-assessment on this page to identify where to improve your skills and behaviors. Then, get more coaches’ recommendations in Chapter 25 of The Leadership Compass: Mapping Your Leadership Direction to help you renew in this important competency.

Related Competencies:



Measure your trust skills and behaviors!

Select your level of agreement with each statement in the self-assessment.
When answering the questions, consider how others might evaluate your trust.


Recommended Trust Books:

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