People follow leaders they trust. So, building and maintaining trust is critical to good leadership. Thankfully, there are ways to earn trust as a leader.
I’ve found trust develops over time and experience – as we witness trustworthy behavior. Honestly, as a leader, I’ve felt a delicate tension in maintaining trust. People look for a leader to be strong, independent and confident. Yet, we trust people who are approachable, inclusive and humble.
Jesus is the perfect model of this type of trusted leader.
How do we combine those traits to be trusted leaders?
7 ways to earn trust as a leader:
Display confidence, but never cockiness.
People will trust a competent leader, but one who is arrogant will be dismissed quickly.
Follow through, which means you never over-commit.
When a leader does what they say they will, people gain trust. When the leader always bails on responsibility – when they have a new idea every day, but nothing ever comes to reality – people begin to doubt everything the leader says.
Put trust in others, so you’ll have an opportunity for them to put trust in you.
Trust is a mutually exclusive commodity. People won’t extend you trust they don’t feel they receive from you. This means you must not be controlling, micro-managing, or negative towards every new idea they bring to the table. It means you must empower, delegate, and give authority to people.
Extend grace but be firm in some non-negotiable principles.
I have some non-negotiable things in leadership – things such as responsiveness and mutual-respect – and I share them with our team. We should have some standards which are not open to discussion. Those should usually be issues of character, vision or values.
At the same time, we need to allow people the freedom make their own way, including the freedom to fail, make mistakes, and be assured we will forgive them if needed.
Try to be knowledgeable and aware by constantly learning but realize you don’t know everything and you’ll know far more with a team.
People trust a teachable leader. They are leery of a leader who knows it all – or pretends they do. We must ask questions, allow others on our team to teach us at times, continually seek wisdom and develop individually, just as we expect those we are trying to lead to do.
Exhibit humility but have courage to do the hard things.
A trusted leader is humble enough to share recognition, but diligent to do the things everyone expects of the leader – such as lead through the hard seasons, remain calm in crisis, and encourage others when they need hope.
Value people more than you value progress.
This is especially difficult for driven leaders. We want success and this often is measured in numbers. But people trust people they know genuinely care for them. We must see people as individuals, get to know them, and genuinely love the people we are trying to love – considering their interests even ahead of our own.