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The saying goes, “People do business with those they know, like and trust.” There are a bazillion posts that unpack that for business development but what does the phrase “know, like and trust” mean for a leader?  In this post, I’ll specifically unpack the word “trust.”

When speaking about trust in leadership, let me start by saying what I’m NOT talking about. I’m not talking about…

  • Telling the truth
  • Doing what you say you will do
  • Keeping something confidential
  • Having someone’s back

This is trust in the predictive sense. You know (or have confidence in) how a person will act in certain situations. These are all important, and in my opinion, they are simply the ticket to entry to have someone trust you as a leader. If you don’t do these things, you don’t deserve to be called a leader. These behaviors will result in the tasks or job your team is paid to do; however, you want (and NEED) more. You need them…

  • To bring their best effort
  • To try new things and approaches
  • To be honest with you about their mistakes
  • To give you feedback on how you are doing as a leader
  • To have passion for your shared work
  • To be resourceful in the face in tough problems
  • To hold themselves, you and others accountable

I haven’t met a leader who doesn’t want these things. I want them as a leader in my organization and yet, they seem elusive.  I supported a client recently to seek out feedback and ask a team member, “How can I become more trustable?” The team member, after some hesitation, shared the following and it was the most valuable feedback he had ever received. She told him…

  • When I’m speaking with you, give me your full attention. If you’re busy, tell me and schedule a time when you can be fully present.
  • Listen fully when I bring an issue to you and help me think through how I’ll approach it without jumping in and solving it for me.
  • Allow me to take the lead in a conversation and don’t feel like you need to be helpful and take over.
  • Make it safe for me to share my challenges and mistakes I’ve made.
  • Don’t let people walk all over you just in an effort to avoid conflict.

All these point to the presence (or absence) of a deeper level of trust where a person is completely comfortable being open and honest with you. Patrick Lencioni calls it “vulnerability-based” trust. That’s the type of trust that unleashes a person’s full capacity, effort, creativity and all the discretionary gifts they have to bring to your shared work.

Are you trustable? The best way to know is ask. It takes a certain type of relationship with someone to get unfiltered feedback. Most people will not give you all the feedback you need on this particular blind spot. When you find that person, give them this post and after they read it, ask them, “What would make me more trustable?”

If you’re unsure where to start with this or if you have the type of relationship with a person to do this, let’s schedule 30 minutes together to put you on the path to get this type of feedback and be a leader who is known, liked and trusted.

Jeff Harmon

Jeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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