We all want to be seen as “trustworthy”. We want to have other people’s trust. But the fact is: We alone cannot decide whether we are perceived as trustworthy – others do that for us. Our outer environment decides, whether we are trustworthy or not.
We can say: Trustworthiness is an outside perception. So many people have the desire “I wish to be trusted!” Especially in business. We want to be seen as trustworthy leader, so that others like us and buy our products and services.
There is a wonderful quote that expresses how high trust ranks in our society:
To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.
– George MacDonald
While you cannot control whether people give you their trust, you can control your actions toward them. You can control your own behaviour. And you can determine to give them your trust, that they learn to trust you, too. Now, as you can influence your behaviour and in the end your success with regard to trust and trustworthiness, let’s talk about the possibilities of how to achieve this. We should talk about the necessary traits of trustworthy leadership.
What makes one leader trustworthy and another not?
- Knowing oneself, or increasing self-awareness is a primary quality to being viewed as trustworthy. By looking inwardly a leader is more effective at leading outwardly.
- Another ingredient for being trustworthy is being adaptable and flexible to change. Trustworthy leaders have learned to be more adaptable to unknown situations and display a consistent reaction that people can trust. Rather than flying off the handle, a trustworthy leader adapts and controls his reactions.
- Trustworthy leaders tell it like it is. They know how to communicate effectively. They keep team members informed. And they know that listening and really understanding what others have to say before telling, giving advice or providing direction makes a huge difference in communication and in results.
- Trustworthy leaders expect the best in others This means the leader operates on the premise that most people want to do the right thing. Trustworthy leaders give people room to succeed rather than “being sceptical” that it just isn’t going to happen. These leaders are supportive of everyone, not just the people that they like.
- Trustworthy leaders know how to be firm and fair. They stay true to their convictions. The advantage: You always know where you stand with this leader. No guessing what will happen next. Staying true to your convictions means clarifying expectations, and letting those that choose not to contribute know they will be no longer a match for the organization’s purpose and mission.
- Trustworthy leaders “walk the talk”. They follow through on their own commitments and deliver results.
- Honesty is very important for trustworthy leaders. Honesty is the foundation of integrity. It means you tell the truth, admit mistakes, and make ethical decisions.
- Trustworthy leaders share information in an open and transparent way. They keep their team members informed so they can make responsible decisions.
- Trustworthy leaders are humble leaders. But don’t see humbleness as something negative. Humbleness is even a strength. Leading with humility means you consider the needs of your people more important than your own.
- Predictable and consistent behaviour is essential for being a trustworthy leader. People trust us when they can rely on us to act, and react, in a consistent manner.
- Trustworthy leaders project competence. They show that they have the needed skills, knowledge and expertise to steer the organization.
- Trustworthy leaders also project confidence. They demonstrate and prove that they will do everything that is necessary.
- Trustworthy leaders say – and show – that trust is an important company value.
- Trustworthy leaders share the credit and take the blame. When leaders are generous at sharing credit, they actually are more trusted.
- And at last: Trustworthy leaders are transparent. They don’t mask a crisis.
Leaders don’t become trustworthy by accident. They learn the behaviours of trust and practice them over a longer period of time to the point where they become habits. Trust is built through the use of specific behaviours that anyone can learn and master over time.
Trustworthiness can, and should, become a habit.