The First Law of Building Trust

What advice do you give others and yourself on how to build higher levels of trust? We all know trust is a key ingredient for any organization to be successful. In these in draconian times, many leaders find the ability to build and maintain trust is next to impossible.

There are countless books and articles on leadership. Many of them focus on the area of building trust. Often these writings focus on what a leader needs to have in order to build trust. For example, one author suggests that a leader must have both credibility and character to garner higher trust. I agree with those two elements, but my focus is on helping leaders change what they do. If you change what you do, then you change who you are, and you get better results.

Of all the trust building skills leaders possess, the ability to reinforce candor is the most powerful and elusive. This is the behavior of making people feel glad when they bring up something a leader has done that they feel is not right. Most leaders find it impossible to reinforce people when they offer a candid critique. Reason: Leaders act from their own paradigm of what is right, so when an employee suggests an action is wrong, they get defensive and push back. This has the effect of punishing the employee for being candid.

If we can teach leaders to reinforce people when they speak their truth, those leaders will have a giant head start at building trust. It is not rocket science: it is much more important than rocket science.

In my business, I coach leaders every day on how to be more effective. There are a thousand things to think about when trying to lead an organization effectively. These skills range from being consistent to preventing the formation of exclusive cliques or even just how to write an effective e-mail message.

The first skill I work to instill in any leader is the ability to reinforce candor. Why? If leaders gain the ability and humility to accomplish this feat, they will find all the other leadership skills and traits come easily. If they cannot reinforce candor, then the other skills or activities of leadership will be blunted and ineffective.

If you are interested in further information on the power of reinforcing candor and how to accomplish it, you can reference the attached white paper. This is a brief (2 ¼ page) excerpt from my latest book Leading with Trust is like Sailing Downwind.
http://www.leadergrow.com/Reinforce-Candor-It-Builds-Trust-and-Transparency.pdf

5 Responses to The First Law of Building Trust

  1. LOVED your views on reinforcing candor. I look forward to learning more. I do a Canadian broadcast radio show called Your Life, Unlimited. If you would be interested in being a guest, please let me know.

    meanwhile, thanks for sharing your insight!

  2. Mitch says:

    Very nicely written, Robert. I tend to believe that if one has established their track record of trust over the years with others that not only is it possible that someone else might tell others you’re trustworthy, but when you interact with others they may feel that you’re trustworthy.

    That’s because I believe if one acts in certain ways that it becomes a part of them, and others feel it when they interact with you. Works the same way in reverse, which is why some of us get those eerie feelings about some people every once in awhile.

    • trustambassador says:

      Thanks Mitch. For sure, I believe that trust is the most important ingredient in a successful organization. I have made it my life’s work. Maybe sometime the CNY group would be interested in having me do a program on some of the technology. It is usually a very well received program.

      • Mitch says:

        You know I bring it up from time to time. We’re at a crossroads with the group, so we’ve been trying to concentrate more on the core of what we’re supposed to be representing. In a weird way, these folks are trusting us to give them what they’re looking for.

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