The Truth of Trust

“One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life.”
E.M. Forster

In leadership the word trust is used daily in assessment if one is a good leader or follower. And the word trust has many different meanings depending on the situation and feeling of the leader or follower. Given the slipperiness and importance of this word it becomes critical to make sure it is tended to in all conversations and actions.

Here are a few good practices to build trust on a daily basis:

Good judgement  –  leaders are expected to make good decisions, read situations well, have a fair assessment of character, and get to the heart of the matter so others can move forward. That said if a leader cannot make a decision in the moment  –  be truthful, if the situation is complex  –  let the group know and work to gain a true understanding by a certain date and time, if the assessment of character is wrong  –  admit the mistake and make amends, and if the heart of the matter is obscure stay with the situation until it does make sense to you and others.

Consistency of behavior  –  this is the best secret of leadership. Be consistent with how you communicate, run meetings, make decisions and treat others. If you begin to do things out of your normal patterns it will create concerns with your team. Now if you are upgrading your leadership skills that will be appreciated.

“Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement”
Alfred Adler

Dependability  –  the ability to follow up and follow through on your key initiatives while keeping others Up To Date and aligned with the goals of the company helps to create a cadence of success throughout the company. This skill and practice becomes critical during turn arounds or corrections.

“Our distrust is very expensive.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Extend trust  –  the best of leaders know the value in extending trust. Give people the vision and clear goals and ask them for what they need to succeed. Trust they will deliver, trust they are imperfect, and trust that you are imperfect. Touch base regularly on the key indicators for forward momentum and get their thoughts on what is important to focus on next.

Be worthy of trust  –  people will trust you and sometimes you will break it. If they extend it say thank you and let them know what you will do match their trust. If you break trust, apologize and make amends. Being worthy of trust means doing your best. Sometimes that is enough and others it is not. When it is not be truthful and commit to a better path forward. Speak first, let them know what has happened, acknowledge that trust has been broken, and discuss how to repair it going forward.

In the end, trust is a very subjective word. To effectively lead others create a cadence of trust by consistently matching your words and actions.

“I think we may safely trust a good deal more than we do.”
Henry David Thoreau