Great Leadership Revolves Around a Single Concept

circular arrows  icon, vector illustration. Flat design styleAs a young boy, the study of leadership was fascinating to me. It seemed important to know what distinguished the great leaders from the many individuals who try hard but never measure up to greatness. My early years were spent observing leaders but not finding answers to the true key to leadership.

After starting my career, the study of leadership became more pressing. Reading numerous books and taking courses or watching videos pointed me in the right direction.

I was mentored by the great leadership gurus of all time: people like Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, John Maxwell, Brian Tracy, and hundreds of other authors.

The most important lessons came when my team created a leadership laboratory in the areas that reported to me at work. For over 30 years we learned from each other the most important lessons about leadership.

In the final analysis, we discovered that there are hundreds of behaviors that constitute great leadership, but all of them are enabled by just one concept.

That concept is trust.

Leaders who create high trust enable other engagement activities to work like magic, but leaders who fail to generate high trust work like crazy on all the other behaviors without much success.

Trust becomes the golden key to the door of great leadership.

If you know how to create trust, your success as a great leader is assured. If you do not have the ability to generate high trust, you will be locked out of the halls of great leadership.

Spend some time today thinking about how well you currently do at building and maintaining trust in your organization. If you are honest with yourself, the answer will be obvious in how others interface with you daily.

Low trust is easy to spot, and so is high trust. For example, low trust is often evident in body language where people find it difficult to look each other in the eye.

There is a lot of gossip, and people say things in one venue that are different from what they say somewhere else. With high trust, communication is more genuine, and leaders can readily admit mistakes without loss of respect by their subordinates.

In the coming weeks you can read several articles about trust right here. We’ll discuss what trust is, how to achieve it, how to repair it when compromised, and how to use it to create an excellent organization.

We will discuss how creating an environment of low fear is the great enabler of trust within any group. My favorite quotation on the Leadergrow website is;

“The absence of fear is the incubator of trust.”

When people know it is safe to voice their opinions without the worry of being reprimanded, then trust grows quickly.


The preceding was derived from an episode in “Building Trust,” a 30 part video series by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.” To view three short (3 minutes each) examples at no cost go to

10 Responses to Great Leadership Revolves Around a Single Concept

  1. bobvanourek says:

    Outstanding insight, Bob. This is why you are “The Trust Ambassador.”

  2. trustambassador says:

    Thanks Bob. As always, you are right there with supportive words.

  3. I always love to read your posts Bob. This one comes right on the heels of watching To Sir With Love last night. Sidney Poitier very eloquently displayed the very traits that your post discusses. This is needed more in schools in order to engage our at-risk students. Unfortunately, too many times the teachers and administrators don’t create trust because they fall back on policies and not on listening and working with the students to find common ground. But it is not all a problem with the teachers and administrators. They are being forced to proceed based on decisions of policy makers who don’t live in the trenches with the students and educators. They are looking at “data” that is devoid of the human factor.

    But, teachers and administrators can still create positive change if they learn how to truly create that trust that leads to better engagement and willingness to try what is hard. So helping our education system understand and embrace your wisdom would help. Thank you for being there.

  4. billfotsch says:

    I agree that trust is hugely important. The book, “The Speed of Trust” makes very similar points. I find that economic transparency creates an environment of trust. Employees who understand their business economics and share in the improved financial results are more engaged and more effective. By trusting the employees with this information and the focus the common good captures the employees’ hearts while the information captures their minds. Commonly referred to as Open-Book Management, this creates an empowered, learning organization.
    I have seen this work in 400+ companies I have worked with in the past 20+years, from small / medium sized companies to larger publicly traded service responsible companies like Southwest Airlines and BHP Billiton. This 4 minute MSNBC video of one of my clients provides an example of a privately held company:
    These Harvard Business Review articles provide more background:
    Bob, am I correct that you are an Open-Book Management fan?

    • trustambassador says:

      Thanks Bill. I agree with the points Covey made in his book. He is a personal friend, has been to my house for dinner, and endorsed my last two books. I like his second book even more than the first (“Smart Trust”).

      On Open Book Management. I have been a practitioner and fan of this approach ever since I read the first edition of Jack Stack’s book in 1994. It just seems like the right way to manage.

  5. Debbie Stark says:

    Bob, your ideas around trust as an enabler really resonate with me, based on my own leadership experiences as well as my observations from years of working closely with other leaders in an HR advisory role. Leadership is essentially about inspiring and influencing the behavior of others. Without a foundation of trust it is impossible to influence others to their optimal levels of performance. And that is bad for business. I believe this is so important that I crafted and led a workshop on this topic once when on boarding a team of new directors for my employer. Count me as a junior trust ambassador!

    • trustambassador says:

      Thanks for your comment and endorsement, Debbie. Glad to hear that you are also a fan of trust. If you are interested, I have a set of videos on trust that may be helpful to you. Here is a link to three free demos in the series.

  6. Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.

  7. Reblogged this on janeryanblog and commented:
    Trust, the key to great leadership.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: