Leadership and Trust

by Wayne Sharer

International speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Retired navy officer, former commanding officer. Over 35 years of leading, coaching, mentoring, and speaking.

February 22, 2018

As seen previously, trust in leadership is the number 2 leadership quality of effective leaders. Trust is key in the top 5 leadership qualities because it impacts your ability as the leader to be effective with many other important leadership characteristics.

Leaders must both have trust in those they lead and must have the trust of those they lead. Having one without the other will ultimately diminish your effectiveness as a leader and more ways than I can describe here in this article.

Why a Leader Must Have Trust in Others

Trust is having a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something. It’s both a noun and a verb because it’s an important thing and an important action. It’s both a belief and believing in the same.

Your trust in others is addressed first because it is also part of you as the leader gaining the trust of those you lead. The leader must demonstrate some level of trust first. If not, gaining the trust of those you lead will be a long and difficult job for you.

The trust you demonstrate and hold for those you lead will affect other leadership qualities often mentioned by others as most important. These include:

  • Delegation
  • Decisiveness
  • Innovation
  • Creativity
  • Your Ability to Inspire
  • Your Ability to Focus
  • Your Integrity

Your ability and willingness to delegate responsibilities to those you lead is one of the most powerful ways to demonstrate your trust to others. By delegating responsibilities, you send a clear message that you have faith in key peoples’ skills and abilities to be significant players in whatever outcome you may be seeking.

Identifying who you can delegate to reliably and doing it quickly will build your trust faster than nearly any other leadership action you can take.

This, in turn, makes you appear immediately decisive. It also frees up countless hours of time for you to be creative and innovative in your strategies and tactics. Your team will admire you for your trust, while your ability to focus or the most important aspects of achieving your outcome multiplies.

Realize with every move you make to gain and show trust; your integrity is being measured. Your honesty and moral principals will be watched closely. Live by them because eventually, you will find yourself being challenged when you expect others to live by the standards you say. Imagine what would happen when those you lead have observed you violating those standards.

Why a Leader Must be Trusted

It’s probably obvious to you now why a leader must be trusted. Having trust and being trusted can be quite the “Catch 22.” Which comes first, and how do you have one without the other?

Fortunately for the leader, when you enter a new leadership position, there is a certain amount of trust “gifted” to you because it’s inherent in the position.

And as you begin working your new position you can leverage this inherent trust to gain more trust which means you can easily build on what is already present. You don’t have to know all the people you lead to have enough trust to build more.

And the more you do to cement and build the existing trust, the more trust you gain from those you lead. Realize you have this trust, and then do everything possible to build on it.

Another quality that’s important to trust is your communications skills. More specifically, your listening skills.

While it’s vital to communicate the outcomes, whys, how’s, and what’s without confusion from those you lead, the key to knowing what really is affecting your team is listening. You will find yourself learning more about what you must do to gain your team’s trust by listening. Remember, leaders who can keep their mouth shut and ears open will learn more every time you engage with each other.

The mere act of listening builds trust. The results your team perceive they gain from your listening to them builds a trust that becomes an unbreakable bond.

Ultimately, the trust you gain from those you lead adds to your ability to be decisive, delegate responsibility, be innovative and creative, provide inspiration, and personally focus on the most important aspects of achieving your outcome.

The Big Surprise about Trust as a Leadership Quality

For me, leadership and trust go hand in hand. Yet in my research of other’s leadership qualities of effective leaders, it wasn’t in the top 5. In fact, you must realize it wasn’t in any of the lists I found.

What would it be like if a leader didn’t have the trust of those he leads or those same people do not trust their leader? Imagine the disasters that would occur. Leadership and trust cannot be separated, yet none of the writers on leadership included it in the top qualities.

Does this make me more correct than the others? I don’t know the answer because I don’t know their full thought pattern. What I have shown you here is how so much of anything you do as a leader relies on trust, the more you think about it, the more you likely have the same question.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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