People’s expectations and definition of trustworthiness are broadening for leaders, and it takes a lot to gain that trust. The author offers four research-based practices for leaders to master to earn and keep the trust of others. First, make your values clear, then make sure you’re living up to them. Second, treat others and their work with dignity. Third, determine when to be vulnerable and open and when to protect confidences. Finally, cultivate a sense of unity across your organization. In times of unprecedented uncertainty, it’s critical to earn and keep the trust of others every day. If you hope to enjoy a career of great influence and impact, start by cultivating a trustworthy reputation.
I recently had to deliver feedback to an executive, let’s call him Gabe, based on data I’d collected. He found this painfully difficult to hear: “People struggle to trust you.” His defensiveness was intense. He insisted he had kept his commitments, delivered positive results, and hadn’t ever acted deceitfully or unscrupulously. And all of those things were true.
Like many leaders, he was shocked to learn that the standards of trustworthiness have risen significantly as the world’s experience of honesty and trust have descended into a freefall. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that government, NGOs, and media have continued to lose trust while business barely hangs on as the only institution people view as competent and ethical. People’s expectations and definition of trustworthiness are broadening for leaders, and it takes a lot to gain that trust.