All organisations are having to change, at a faster pace and in more radical ways than ever before.
This puts the requirement for leadership at a premium, where decisive, inspirational action from those in positions of power and influence is obvious and value-adding. The problem is many people who need to implement these different and challenging requirements look at their leaders with a crooked eye, thinking ‘Why should we follow you?’, ‘We don’t really trust you’.
With trust a leader can achieve much more, without it they will struggle to do more than exhort people to do better. Where does trust come from? To help clarify your own thinking we have put together a summary of the behaviours that stimulate feelings of trustworthiness.
- Consistent – You need to behave in ways that allow people to feel they always know where you’re coming from. People would prefer someone who is autocratic all the time to someone who flip-flops between being controlling one minute and laissez-faire the next.
- Fair – You cannot have favourites, or be mercurial in your decision making. People need to see you are objective and even-handed in all your dealings with others.
- Reliable – Always do what you say you will do, never over-promise and under-deliver.
- Values Driven – People need to see what you stand for through your dealings with others.
- Discreet – You are you good with other peoples’ confidences.
- Straight-forward – Effective leaders need to be political to some extent, but trusted ones are only political in the positive sense of being in tune with the hidden agendas and underlying group dynamics, not manipulating, double-dealing and back stabbing.
- Supportive – You not only help people with work related issues but offer broader support when needed
- Tough – You will say the (very) difficult stuff even when it makes you unpopular. You are not interested in how many Christmas cards you get, only in being effective and increasing the effectiveness of those around you.
- Human – People relate to you because you have empathy for their position, and you don’t put yourself on a pedestal.
These attributes are in no order of importance, and cannot be adopted as a short-cut to trustworthiness. People have got to have belief in your sincerity.