Invest in Trust!

All leadership is based on trust. If someone doesn’t trust you they simply will not be committed to truly following you. They might comply with you, they may do what you tell them to do, they may even kind of like you but they will not commit to you.

Building trust takes time. When I hear someone say “you must earn the right to lead” what I really think they are saying is “you need to build some trust before anyone will actually follow you.” 

Authentic leaders know that their title or position does little in the way of building trust. People don’t trust titles, they don’t trust positions, and they don’t trust names. People trust people. 

Trust building must be intentional. It must occur everyday. If you’re a leader, or someone in a leadership position then you should be aware that your people are watching you. They want to see if your actions match your words. They want to see if you honor your commitments, and not just to them, if they are going to trust you then they expect you to honor your commitments, period.

Every leader, every person really, has what I call a “credibility bank.” Every time we do what we say we will a small deposit is made into our bank. Every time we fail to do what we say will will a large withdrawal is taken from our bank.

If that doesn’t seem fair get over it. Building trust takes time and real trust doesn’t come easy for most people. The next time you’re tempted to blow off a commitment just remember your credibility bank and maybe the temptation will pass.

If trust building must be intentional as I’ve already said it must, then what and how do you plan to go about it. Seriously, I’m suggesting to you that you don’t just let trust happen, don’t just assume that people trust you. I’m suggesting that you become intentional in building trust. 

Take tons of notes about the commitments you’ve made, block time on your calendar to honor those commitments. Return phone calls, answer emails, if you say you’ll do something then by any and all means possible, do it! 

Virtually everything you say and do sends you to your credibility bank, the only questions is; will you be making a deposit or withdrawal?

Think about that for a while and then get busy adding to your credibility bank! 

No Relationship, No Leadership

Have you ever heard the saying “It’s lonely at the top?” It’s been said so often that some people in leadership positions actually believe that it should be lonely at the top. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. The real truth is this: if you’re a leader and you’re feeling lonely, you’re most certainly doing something wrong. I hate saying that so strongly but that is a fact.

You should absolutely not be lonely, you should be the most sought out person in your organization. Maybe not the most popular because authentic leadership is anything but a popularity contest, but your people should be seeking you out regularly with questions and ideas. 

If you don’t have regular, daily conversations with the people you lead it could well be that you’re lacking real relationships with them. When a relationship isn’t present it becomes very hard for a leader to demonstrate that they care for and value the people they lead.

If your people get so much as a hint that you don’t care about them as people your opportunity to truly lead them will be lost. 

Authentic leaders make building real relationships with their people one of their top priorities. They are intentional about it. They will literally schedule time into their day to “relationship build.” They get out their office and seek out the people they lead. Authentic leaders know that their success is completely dependent upon the success of the people they lead. Authentic leaders invest time with their people to ensure their people’s success. Authentic leaders celebrate the success of their people as much, or more, than their own. 

If you’re a leader you should know that your people value a relationship with you as much as they value recognition, promotions and often, even pay.

That relationship doesn’t have to extend outside of the work environment but it does need to be robust enough for them to know, without a doubt, that they are valued for what they do and who they are.

A leader’s relationship with their people needs to be “real.” As a leader, you need to know something about the people you lead. You can’t lead someone effectively until you know something about them. You can’t demonstrate that you care about them unless you can first demonstrate that you actually know them…. as a person. 

Some of the people who read this will think to themselves “I don’t have time for this relationship crap” and to you I would say this: 

If you don’t have the time to build real relationships with your people then maybe, just maybe, you don’t have time to lead.