The Trust Factor in Leadership

5698079831_15c4d48b20Leadership cannot be effective and successful without trust at its very core. You may know of talented and gifted persons who seemed poised for great leadership, but whose careers never really got off the ground because they lacked the trust of others. They had a promising and hopeful beginning but they did not get far in their leadership career because they never developed trust with those they were leading.

According to Steven R Covey, “You cannot effectively lead without trust.”  Coven says Warren Bennis puts it this way, “Leadership without mutual trust is a contradiction in terms.”

A leader who does not have the trust of her followers will have to rely on command and control to get things done. And as we saw last week, this kind of leadership is not very effective over time.

Generally speaking, since command and control is no longer an effective way of leading, as a leader you must accept the reality that you can no longer rely on power or position to lead, but must rely on the power of trust. To succeed and be effective you will need the ability to persuade those you lead to work with you to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization. This will require you to build trust with those you lead.

How do you build trust with those you lead?

Some leaders have already established a reputation as one who can be trusted. They have demonstrated an ability to build trust with those they lead. In a new or different leadership role, they will likely be able to build trust relationships more quickly than those leaders who are still relying on command and control.

Building trust must be intentional. Covey, who has worked with organizations around the world, has identified 13 common behaviors of highly trusted leaders.

13 Behaviors of High-Trust Leaders Worldwide

  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

In identifying these behaviors, Covey warns they should be kept in balance. For example, if you are going to Talk Straight you should do so while Demonstrating Respect. Covey also warns that any behavior pushed to an extreme could become a weakness.

For some, leadership turns out to be a bad experience because rather than concentrating first on building trust with those they lead, they focus on their own agenda and what they would like to accomplish. This approach fails to recognize that followers must trust their leaders before they do what leaders ask them to do.

“The best leaders recognize that trust impacts us 24/7, 365 days a year,” Covey says. “It undergirds and affects the quality of every relationship, every communication, every work project, every business venture, every effort in which we are engaged. It changes the quality of every present moment and alters the trajectory and outcome of every future moment of our lives — both personally and professionally.”

Trust is the glue that binds the leader to her/his followers and provides the capacity for organizational and leadership success.

How is the trust factor in your leadership? Have you established trust with those you are leading or are you still relying on power to lead? Leading is so much easier and more effective when your leadership is built on trust.

If you feel you have not established trust with your people, the good news is that you can start today! Begin by practicing some of Covey’s 13 common behaviors that lead to building and maintaining trust.

Look over the list and identify one or two things you can start doing today and begin building trust. Trust may be the missing factor that is keeping you from succeeding in your current leadership role.

If you would like help in achieving your goals in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.

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