Home Leadership “Trust is the glue of life.”

“Trust is the glue of life.”

Trust is the bedrock of leadership.  While there are many other important aspects of sound leadership, trust is foundational.  Without it, nothing else matters.  Regardless of how charismatic a leader may be, without trust, he or she will have no followers.  And the reality is this: trust is very fragile.  It must be carefully built and nutured, yet one false step can seriously damage or even destroy it.  There may be a few of us who give our trust freely until that trust is violated, but for most of us, it’s the other way around . . . we withhold our trust until it is earned.  So how does a leader earn that trust?  Please read below.

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”
–    Henry Kissinger

Consider a quote from another thought leader, Stephen Covey.  “Trust is the glue of life.  It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.  It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”  So we put Kissinger and Covey together, and we see that without the “glue” that binds leaders to followers, a leader cannot get his people “from where they are to where they have not been.”  In short, the leader can’t do his or her job.

OK then, what does it take to develop this “glue?”  Here are some thoughts.

•    Keep your motives pure.  When you pursue something that benefits the entire group, you strengthen the glue . . . self-serving motives weaken it.
•    “Do as I say, not as I do,” has never been a good leadership practice, nor is it here.  To build trust, you need to do more than talk the talk.  Lead by example.
•    Be true to your word, consistently.  Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, always.
•    Trust is a 2-way street.  Your people won’t trust you unless you demonstrate that you trust them too.
•    Learn to be a good listener.  Don’t dismiss other people’s ideas out-of-hand.  People will be more willing to follow your ideas if they know their ideas have been heard and considered.
•    Give it time.  If you believe that trust has to be earned, then don’t expect full commitment based on a single promise kept.  Your people will want to know that you’re not a one-trick pony . . . that you deliver on your promises consistently over time.
•    Don’t shift blame.  If you screw something up (and we all do), own it.  When you admit to failures or mistakes, you strengthen the trust “glue” because you show up as authentic, not as a phoney.

And one more thing.  According to business guru Tom Peters, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”  Don’t assume this is just about you getting your direct reports to follow you.  Insist that your people practice these behaviors with their people and on down the line until your whole organization is practicing these behaviors.

The bullet points above are not intended to be a comprehensive list of everything you need to do to engender trust, but they are the most impactful.  Faithfully adopting these behaviors will go a long way toward guaranteeing your success as a leader.  Ignoring them will surely guarantee your failure.

If you feel the need to strengthen trust within your organization but don’t know where to start, call me.  We should talk.

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