Developing Trusted Leadership

Updated: Sep 30



As leaders, we want to be trusted. We need to be trusted if we want our team, our organisation, to come on the journey with us. What is absolutely certain is this – if they don’t trust you, they won’t follow.

So what does it take to develop trust in leadership? There are 7 ‘truths’ about trust in Leadership that every leader needs to know:

1.Your people are relying on you

That might seem like a no-brainer, or it may be something you haven’t sat and really thought about to any great extent.

When your people inside your organisation begin to feel they cannot rely on you, and their trust in you begins to waiver, it will show up as:

  • Lack of engagement

  • Gossiping

  • Low morale

  • Poor performance

  • Teams clashing

  • People leaving

The key to addressing these is to find out their ENPs® (in Resolve News #34, we introduced what makes up a trust relationship, namely: Expectations, Needs and Promises):

  • what are they relying on your for?

  • what do they really need from you?

  • what do they believe was promised to them?

2. Trust requires constant communication

Most employees will complain that there is ‘not enough communication’. In my experience, the issue is not whether there is ‘enough’ communication as much as what, how and when.

Communication is two way – often leaders ‘tell’ their people stuff, rather than having a two way dialogue.

You need to find out:

  • What do your people want to know?

  • How do they want communication to flow?

  • When do they want this to happen?

It is not a one size fits all approach. Some will want the face to face weekly meeting on Monday morning before the week begins; others will be happy with a monthly newsletter and a feedback mechanism; others will want daily snapshots and quick chats throughout the day.

Yes, it’s challenging, but if you just do the one approach, you will have unhappy people, that’s guaranteed.

3. You need clarity of your own ENPs®

Just like the people you lead have Expectations, Needs and are drawn to your Promises, so you have Expectations and Needs of them, and they make Promises to you.

If you are a big picture person, you may struggle with clarifying your own Expectations and Needs of others, but the better you get at articulating them, the better you will get at making sure you have the right people in the right roles who can Promise to meet them.

4. You need to trust others

You may often feel you would be better off just doing things yourself; that relying on others just causes problems, or other people just don’t do the job the way you want it done.

The clearer everyone becomes about the Expectations of each other, the Needs each are relying on the other to meet, and the Promises each can make with some confidence of delivery, the easier it becomes to trust others to get on with the job. It is really about empowering, developing and setting an example for your people.

5. They need to trust you, not like you

Often as leaders we work hard at getting people to like us, but don’t focus on what it takes for people to trust us.

I know from studies done that on average, only 1 in 10 people will deal with you if they like you but don’t trust you.

That means the other 9 think you are a nice person, but they are finding their own ways to do things, are not following or listening to you, and consciously or subconsciously are doing thing that undermine your authority.

If they do trust you, they listen to you, respect you, perform and achieve, communicate with you, extend themselves for you and make your life a whole lot easier!

6. You need to trust yourself to lead

I meet many leaders who feel they have been raised to a level beyond their own capability, who do not feel they have the skills to lead a team or an organisation. If you don’t trust you, it is difficult to convince others to trust you.

Take some time to ask yourself:

  • What are your Expectations of yourself?

  • What so you Need from your role?

  • What are you Promising yourself?

7. You need a balance of trustworthy qualities

Can any of us be truly trustworthy? Are we ever really worthy of the trust of others?

There are certainly characteristics or qualities that people who engender trust have, and they have them in a healthy balance. Here is the model of a trustworthy person.(see Resolve News #36)

  • How well do you display these qualities?

  • Are you stronger in some and weaker in others?

  • What areas do you need to work on?

Trust in Leadership is something we all know we need, but few take up the challenge. I hope you are one of them!

Vanessa Hall

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