The Golden Rules Of Leadership #4 – Trust

Trust is the cement that binds the Leader and the Team together. In my direct experience, over several decades, it could easily be regarded as the ESSENTIAL trait of Leadership.

The calibre of relationships and communication determines the quality and effectiveness of operational delivery and performance. At its most critical point, when I was required to place those, I had responsibility for, in harm’s way, trust in my decision –making and Leadership was paramount to the successful outcomes we achieved together.

This means, being familiar with names, family details, interests, aspirations, I.e.  the reality behind the mask.

I never lost sight that, I was dealing with the lives and wellbeing of those I had responsibility for, including colleagues ‘customers’ (victims, witnesses, suspects) and the general public. Throughout my career, both in the private sector and policing, I was very much aware that Leadership is a privilege, not a job title or rank. It is my belief that knowing colleagues as REAL PEOPLE, helps imbue Leaders with recognition and respect for what will be required of all of us to ‘complete the mission’. This means, being familiar with names, family details, interests, aspirations, I.e.  the reality behind the mask. The ‘big picture’ or strategic intent of our actions must be borne in mind, but every life is precious, none more so than the other.

Trust enables Leadership to engage, energise and empower the full potential of our colleagues. Such additional ‘discretionary effort’ imbues all of us to achieve more than we thought possible. To adapt Thomas Edison’s quote:

Leadership is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

That is, Trust amongst the team is based on evidenced behaviours and actions taken by Leaders. These will be sufficiently strong so as to overcome personal agenda issues or hearsay from others.  We spend so much time at work, it can only be beneficial to enhance that experience through human contact.

Leadership is not delivered by email but by ‘walking the walk’. Trust in Leadership is a two-way street. We, Leaders, have a duty and responsibility, to ourselves and others to ask appropriate questions of those senior to us who require us to implement a strategic purpose.

Phrases such as “Pin your ears back; This is an instruction, not a request; Do as I say; This is how we do things here’ are insufficient in themselves, to absolve a Leader from responsibility. ‘The Nuremberg Defence’ I.e. ‘I was merely obeying orders’ had a limited shelf life. Simply, put, if we, as Leaders, don’t believe in what we are about to impart to those we have responsibility for, then how can we expect those colleagues to believe and comply?

Authentic Trust creates a symbiotic relationship between the Leader and the team. When it exists, it creates an aura and intensity that is palpable and real. It is a good place to be.

There is a feeling of ‘higher, common purpose’ that helps us give of our best, more often and more powerfully. It helps create a common identity or culture that is embracing but not suffocating. In business terms, performance is enhanced and consistent.

Leadership, for me, is far more about ‘we’ and ‘us’ rather than ‘me’ and ‘me’.  Leadership has Soul.

Would you say that the Leadership in your organisation has Soul? If so, how does it feel to be a part of such an organisation? Conversely, if your organisational Leadership lacks Soul, how does this impact on business performance, morale, customer experience and churn of staff?

How would such a culture benefit your organisation?


Tony Munday
Tony Munday
TONY developed his expertise during his Police career of 34 years. Whilst a Senior Leader, for 15 years, he recognised the challenges and pressures faced by Leaders, including those which were of his own making. Tony was a ‘maverick ‘as a Leader. He became accredited in, and practiced, coaching as a Leadership Style, and Situational Leadership (adopt a style relevant and appropriate to the context). This was unusual amongst colleagues and peers, who maintained a firm adherence to a ‘command and control’ style, on most occasions. Tony recognised that it was impossible for him to effectively lead and micromanage. In order to develop appropriate trust and motivation amongst those he had responsibility for, he ensured that he knew the person behind the role. This enabled Tony to effectively performance manage, with fairness. Where appropriate, Tony practiced a ‘service’ style of Leadership. He saw his role, as providing the strategic direction, the environment, setting the values and developing the people, so they took responsibility for delivery of their own and other’s performance. The subsequent trust gained, enabled Tony to save significant time compared to peers who micromanaged. Tony used this time on strategic planning and development of people, enabling them to maximise their potential, including out of his teams or departments. This was unique amongst his peers. Many peers behaved as if the first responsibility of their team was to make ‘them’ look good. This stifled development of their teams. Tony’s teams and departments consistently outperformed their contemporaries.

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  1. Great article. I’m a strong believer in trust with leadership and building relationships with those I lead. We have to care about those with whom we lead and work with in order to be successful as a team. Thank you for sharing.