Trust is like gold in leadership. Without it a leader will fail to build a healthy following. Change will be difficult to implement. Retention and recruitment of leaders becomes near impossible.
Developing trust takes time. It is seldom granted with position or title. Most people have been injured in relationships which keeps them from trusting blindly or quickly.
It took several years into my current position before I began to develop trust. I recognize with many in the church I pastor I’m still developing levels of trust after five years.
If any leader wants to be successful, much will be determined by the level of trust he or she can attain. One goal of every leader, therefore, should be trust development.
How do we do this?
Here are 5 suggestions for developing trust as a leader:
Genuinely care for people. Trusted leaders have shown people by experience they care for others – not just in lip service, but with genuine heartfelt compassion. Trusted leaders love people. Seeing others succeed around them is a high and celebrated value.
I have more experience in the business world than the ministry world, so I can sometimes appear more strategic than relational. But, I think people learn, who work with me close enough, that I really do love people. I would even suggest you not be a leader unless you do.
Competence. Trusted leaders have knowledge in a subject matter, and, when they don’t know something, a willingness to yield to those who know more. They aren’t always second guessing themselves or the team. They believe in themselves, in God’s ability to work through them, and in the people with whom they surround themselves.
It took me years to understand I only know what I know and to be okay with what I don’t. It has taken time to admit I actually may have wisdom to share also. Both are important understandings in developing trust.
Reliable. There is an expected approach or methodology upon which people can depend upon with a trusted leader. They have a consistency in character through good and bad times. The integrity of the leader is above reproach. They aren’t constantly changing the rules. You can depend upon them to do what they said they would do. They are people of their word.
I have followed through on commitments in the past simply because I said I would. There are times I may need to alter plans with new information, but as much as I can – if I said it I do it. I certainly try to follow through on the commitments I make to individuals on our team.
Transparency. Trusted leaders share, in full disclosure, who they are the teams they lead. You don’t have to continually guess what they are thinking, what they are dreaming, or what’s next on their planning agenda. And, you can know them beyond their role as a leader. They include others in the decision-making process and keep them informed along the way.
This is tough, because the more people know the more they can hold against you. That’s why many leaders keep to themselves. But, trust is developed with information.
Courage. Trusted leaders aren’t sitting still while the world passes them. They make decisions. Even hard decisions. They are willing to lead their team into the unknown while they hold their position boldly in front — even willing to take “arrows” for the team when needed.
If you aren’t going somewhere – and, especially somewhere people can’t seem to go on their own – do you really need a leader? People can stand still on their own.
Those are a few of my suggestions. Let’s be trusted leaders. Let’s get things done.