Trust, like the other four principles, is so fundamental to leadership that it is virtually impossible to be seen as a leader unless others can trust you – and, interestingly, you trust others! [More on the latter toward the end of this discussion.]
One of the most important things you will learn in life is the significance of the word behavior. Do not underestimate the importance of that word and consider it in all you do. It is not only the behavior you demonstrate but also that of others. You have most likely heard the term “actions speak louder than words” and this is a classic case of that phrase. Always observe what people do, not what they say. Similarly, people will intuitively observe your behaviors as well.
So how does this relate to trust? While trust is more than a person’s specific behavior there is a direct correlation. As mentioned in the discussion on responsibility, you probably noted the term DWYSYWD or Dwis – E – Wid. It means, Do What You Say You Will Do. In other words, if you tell someone you are going to help them fix their car then you need to follow through. Certainly it is understandable you might need to change plans if an emergency arises, but short of that, you should do what you said you would. If you don’t, and continue to demonstrate those behaviors, then you will develop a reputation as someone who cannot be trusted. Thus, in this situation, it is a matter of following through on commitments you make. People need to trust you to do what you say you will do.
One very important and common example from the business world is when a manager tells an employee that he will seek to get that person a raise and then never follows through. Can you imagine how the employee feels when the manager fails to do take the necessary action. It can be devastating to their morale.
There are, however, other types of trust. While we have described one of dependence on another person there are also the traits of honesty, integrity, and responsibility – the other three pillars of leadership. This clearly illustrates how these are all woven together. If you are with a friend and that person asks you to watch your pocketbook while they attend to something, that person has clearly placed their trust in you to not only keep an eye on the pocketbook but also to not look inside – two different levels of trust. To be seen by others as a leader people must maintain the confidence of others.
In the opening paragraph the comment was made about you trusting other people. Why is that so important to be seen as a leader? It is really quite simple. Consider that any meaningful relationship must be two way. Thus, in any situation where you clearly place your trust in another person you are essentially demonstrating to that individual your willingness to accept their behavior relative to a particular issue. The more significant that issue, the greater the degree of trust, and therefore the more another person is going to respect you for the confidence you have placed in their ability. People will generally have a high degree of respect for you as a person when you demonstrate your trust in them.