Developing Trust

One of the most crucial parts of leadership is building trust – between leaders and followers, between the parts of a group, and between members of a team. But how do you develop trust? Trust takes a great amount of time to develop but can be lost in the blink of an eye. 

Charles H. Green of Trusted Advisor Associates listed eight facts that could help individuals become more trustworthy. Here are a handful of his insights:

  • Trust is built on four factors: credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation. It’s vital to have the right experience for the task at hand, to act reliably and with predictability to instill security in others, to help people feel comfortable confiding in us, and to be someone who can lead without letting the ego take over.
  • Not all factors are weighed equally. Most people place more importance in one or two of the trust components than in the others, according to the results of Green’s survey. In fact, more than half of the respondents ranked reliability as the most important, followed by credibility. Intimacy and self-orientation ranked the lowest. However, don’t underestimate the importance of keeping the ego in check. If the person whose trust you’re seeking feels like you’re only concerned with yourself, trust drops quickly.
  • Balance is beneficial. Respondents also deemed people worthy of more trust when they ranked closely on all four trust factors. As important as reliability is, if you’re not credible at all, or if you’re credible but people don’t feel they can confide in you, then trust drops.
  • Older and wiser? It’s true, at least where trust is concerned. According to Green, people think they’re more trustworthy – and are perceived as such – the older they become.
  • Trust can be taught. The key is to examine how you rank in the four factors. Where are you weak? Where are you strong? You can develop any of the four, although some are more easily attained than others, i.e. learning empathy or being consistent in following through on what you say vs. gaining an advanced degree or some other form of credibility.
  • Expertise doesn’t equal trustworthy. People often define themselves by their expertise and skills, emphasizing them as a way to gain trust. Although it’s probably the focus more often than the other factors, that doesn’t mean is the most effective strategy. Having knowledge is not the same as being someone deserving of trust.

 
Becoming someone others can trust will help you succeed in any activity in life, both personally and professionally. As you develop each of the four factors, you’re sure to instill confidence in others that you care about them and can lead effectively. Gaining others’ confidence in your leadership is worth all of the effort it takes. 

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