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Five Ingredients To Trustworthy Leadership

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I happen to love baking apple pies. Through the years I have experimented with many different piecrust recipes, some containing butter and some containing shortening. Not all recipes lead to tasty piecrusts so I have learned to trust my past baking strategies and only incorporate a new ingredient if it aligns with my past successes.

Learning to be a trustworthy leader is similar to baking an apple pie. We need to take a hard look at what goes into being trustworthy and identify the core elements that make it work. We also need to look at the trustworthy leaders we have worked with and how they were able to gain our trust.

Five Ingredients to Becoming TrustWorthy:

1. Follow Through Like A Football Pass

Similar to an athlete being counted on to complete a strategic play, leaders too need to be reliable and accountable. If we make a commitment to our team members or people we are collaborating with, then we need to make it happen. If we want to be offered higher level assignments and projects, we must prove we will come through. The interesting part of being known as dependable is that we are actually building relationships and our reputation.

2. Highlight The Mistakes

We all mess up from time to time but what differentiates those of us who have built up credit with others is that we are willing to say we made a mistake.

  • Tell others that an error was made early on
  • Find a solution to rectify the mistake either by researching a new approach or by asking team members for their ideas
  • Share lessons learned so others can avoid the same misstep
  • Encourage the people we work with to be open about their mistakes by being understanding
     

3. Talk Straight

The way we communicate with people is key to how they relate to us. When we are honest with our feedback, respectful of their perspectives and speak with clear language, we will be more trustworthy. I had a manager in one of my leadership workshops who felt he should withhold information that people on his team didn’t need to have. After asking him why, he realized that by not sharing all the facts, it was impossible for transparency and real creative problem solving.

4. Listen For The Train Horn

According to Stephen M.R. Covey in his notable book, “The Speed Of Trust”, when we take time to really listen to someone first and get all the information, we not only build up trust with others, but the issues get resolved in a quicker and mutually respectful way. Covey poses these questions about listening to establish trust:

  • Have I really listened to the other person?
  • Do I really understand how he or she feels?
  • Think back to a time when you didn’t listen first. What were the results? What would have been the results if I had listened differently?
     

5. Give Credit And Recognition

Have you ever worked with someone who took all the credit for a joint project? I was coaching a manager who felt so betrayed when she was not recognized for her contributions. She felt she was not a valued team member and lost trust with her boss. I also had a manager in one of my workshops who felt just the opposite- acknowledged for his outstanding work. He was so appreciative to be given credit for his hard efforts and results and looked forward to future assignments. That is building trust.

What does a trustworthy leader look like to you? How have you shown you are trustworthy?

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