We hear a lot about the essential qualities of great leaders or simply successful leaders. Some of the qualities highlighted include good listening, honesty, patience, respect for others, communication, openness to input from others, and a non-judgmental attitude.
I want to suggest that of all the essential qualities of a great leader TRUST is the one upon which all the others stand. Leadership is built on trust.
As a leader, you may be an excellent communicator, respectful of others, and a great listener; but if you are not trustworthy you will struggle to succeed as a leader.
You can have a compelling vision, rock-solid strategy, excellent communication skills, innovative insight, and a skilled team, but if people don’t trust you, you will never get the results you want. (David Horsager, leadership speaker and author)
Too many leaders assume that because of their title, authority, and power, automatically they should be considered a trustworthy person. But nothing could be further from the truth.
David Horsager observes: “One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to assume that others trust him simply by virtue of his title. Trust is not a benefit that comes packaged with the nameplate on your door.”
If trust does not come automatically with your title as leader and you cannot demand it, where then does trust come from? Trust comes from those you lead. You have to earn it, and that takes time.
Trust is earned over time because trust is all about relationships. It is not something you can prescribe, and it cannot be exercised apart from relationships. Therefore, the starting point of earning trust among those you lead is developing healthy relationships.
How does a leader go about building healthy relationships that will help earn the trust to lead? Jim Dougherty, veteran software CEO, entrepreneur and senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, suggests the following:
Trust is all about relationships, and relationships are best built by establishing genuine connection. Ask questions, listen, and above all, show gratitude—it’s the primary trait of truly talented connectors. Grateful people are not entitled, they do not complain, and they do not gossip. Develop the trait of gratitude, and you will be a magnet.” (“The Best Way for Leaders to Build Trust”)
Avoid the mistake of many new leaders who ignore the building of healthy relationships, dive straight into their agenda, and later wonder why their agenda seems not to be gaining traction with those they are leading.
Successful leadership begins and ends with trust, and trust must be earned through the building of healthy relationships.
The bottom line is that if you want to lead well, you must build trust. Trust doesn’t come with the office or the title; it is something earned over months, years, and decades through building and maintaining of healthy relationships with those you lead.
On what foundation is your leadership built? If it is not built on trust, you are more than likely struggling as a leader. It is never too late to start building trust with those you lead.
If you are tired of struggling and want to start succeeding, then perhaps it is time to start earning the trust of those you lead.
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at email@example.com to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.