Trust is essential to leadership.
People enter new relationships with a degree of trust. Then trust either grows or recedes as the relationship develops. If people don’t trust you, they might follow your instructions (kind of), but they won’t follow you.
In Stephen M. R. Covey’s best-selling book, “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything,” Covey proposes two fundamental elements of trust. I’ll paraphrase his description of those two elements as Character and Competence.
Character is the intent, and the will, to be trustworthy. It is not enough to judge oneself as worthy of trust. Trust comes when others hold that opinion. Character is met when one wants to be trustworthy and is willing to do the work to care.
Competence is the ability to perform your responsibilities – by having the capacity to be trusted. Covey, a noted writer, and speaker illustrates this humorously. He says if we want to hire a writer or speaker, his competence is high in these areas, and you should be willing to trust him. But, if you are ever on an airplane, and see him walking you into the cockpit, you should be very concerned.
I believe there are two more C’s that serve to grow and deepen trust, Consistency, and Communication.
Consistency builds confidence. When one is consistent in one’s approach, instruction, action, and behavior, others know what to expect. Knowing what to expect, and consistently meeting those expectations, builds trust. The more consistent the reaction, the deeper the trust becomes.
The last C is Communication. Talking is necessary. Posters are cool. But the most potent form of communication is “walking the talk.” As the leader, you cannot escape being a role model. You are the first one accountable to your company and the highest example. If you are prone to excuses, then others will feel to be also.
Trust is essential to leadership. Both on the part of the leader and the follower.
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