As we begin 2021 and look at how we can hasten the pace of economic recovery, we must recognize that rebuilding starts with trust. Leadership rests on a foundation of trust—without it, there is only ineffective leadership. Economic recovery, business recovery, and personal recovery all require strong leadership to guide us on the path to success.
Building trust and effective leadership require a balance between predictability and being comfortable with discomfort. The predictability provides the footing to confidently lead people forward; the comfort with discomfort provides avenues for growth. Without this coupling, the lack of trust compromises recovery and growth.
What does trust look like, and how can we build a higher trust quotient for ourselves and people in our orbit? Many of these attitudes and actions are personal, but I offer these questions as a place to start:
- Do I really want people to trust me?
This is important because building and maintaining trust entails a significant responsibility. If your heart isn’t in it, this is evident to all and further compromises your credibility.
- Am I ready, willing, and able to step up to the task?
This requires looking through multiple lenses to assess reality versus wishful thinking. All people possess the ability to lead in certain circumstances, but few people possess the ability to lead in all circumstances. So it’s okay to say: this is not for me right now. There is wisdom in recognizing reality.
- Can I be completely honest, looking someone in the eye and calmly saying what needs to be said?
Often, it’s easier for us to say what we think the other person wants to hear. But the truth really works. Most people are perceptive, even if they can’t articulate this well. They will feel the disingenuous behavior, and this will damage your credibility.
- Am I deliberately putting obstacles in my way?
Some of the most difficult conversations we have are with ourselves. But building trust with others demands we build trust with ourselves. Allowing excess baggage from the past to define us or be the predominant voice is rarely productive. Imagine climbing a mountain: the weight of that baggage impedes your ability to achieve your goal. What is it you need to say to yourself that you don’t want to hear? Would it be better to dump that excess baggage and charge forward?
- Am I willing to admit I’m wrong?
Our culture leans toward massaging the truth so that people can be perceived as doing well at all times. But most of the time, admitting and accepting that we’re human is a better path for many reasons. Saying “I was wrong,” out loud is okay, especially when it’s the truth. Indeed, it will improve your trust quotient with others beyond measure.
The people with whom we surround ourselves serve as an indicator of the value we place on trust. As you ponder the implications of trust building, ask:
- Do I want to do the hard work to change the people with whom I surround myself if necessary?
- Do I need corrective lenses to see what is in front of me? How can I determine this, and if I do, how can I obtain those lenses?
- Do I need hearing aids to fully understand what’s being said? How do I determine this, and how do I keep those hearing aids functioning and in place?
Finally, ask if you believe you’re worthy of that which you desire. If you want to be trusted, what are your motivations—are you willing to own the responsibility and act accordingly? Bear in mind that words and actions have consequences and that actions, once committed, cannot be un-actioned.
This was not written as a recipe for manipulation to artificially create trust. It was written as a thought piece to help us all get and stay on the better path to building personal trust, gaining the trust of our fellow humans, and helping rebuild robust and positive relationships and economies.