John Crnokrak & Associates

How to be


Trust is the Essence of Leadership


When we trust someone, we assume they will act honestly and truthfully, and be reliable and predictable. Also, we assume they will not take advantage of our trust. Trust is the essence of leadership because it’s impossible to lead people who don’t trust us.

As an executive coach. I’ve had many situations where I have worked with individual presidents, and top management executives who apparently don’t think in-depth about the link between trust and leadership. Part of a leader’s task has been, and will continue to be, working with people to find and solve problems.

However, whether leaders gain access to the knowledge and creative thinking they need to solve problems, to me, totally depends on how much people trust them. Trust and trustworthiness dictates the leader’s access to knowledge and cooperation.

When employees trust a leader, they certainly are willing to be vulnerable to a leader’s actions; confident their rights and interests will not be abused. People are unlikely to look up to or follow someone who they perceive as dishonest, or was likely to take advantage of them.

Honesty consistently is the driving force for most people’s list of characteristics of which they strive to admire in their leaders. In fact, it’s an absolutely essential component of leadership.

Being a manager is a privilege and it is no simple task to earn the trust and respect of those you lead. However, there are actions that a good leader must adhere to in building trusting relationships.

For example, a leader must be open by keeping people informed, providing a rationale for their decisions, candid about problems and certainly, fully disclose relevant information. Also a leader must be fair, before making decisions or taking actions. A leader must consider how others will perceive them in terms of objectivity and fairness. Certainly be able to give credit where credit is due, be objective and impartial in performance appraisals and certainly pay attention to equity perceptions in reward distributions.

A good leader will always speak his or her feelings, by doing this, others will see their leader as real and human. Without question always tell the truth! Truth is definitely an inherent part of integrity. Once any leader lies and is found out, their ability to gain and hold trust is greatly diminished. From experience I can tell you, most people are generally more tolerant of learning something “they don’t want to hear” then finding out that there manager misrepresented or lied to them.

A good leader will show consistency because people want predictability. Mistrust comes from not knowing what to expect. Strive continually to fulfill your promises as a leader. Trust requires people believe their leader is dependable; thus a leader needs to ensure he or she keeps their word and commitments.

So very essential is, maintaining confidences! People trust those who are discrete, and upon whom they can rely upon. People need to feel assured their leader will not discuss their confidences with others or betray their confidence. If people perceive their leader as someone who leaks personal confidences or someone who can’t be depended upon, they won’t be perceived as trustworthy!

In closing, let me remind you, effective leaders know how to frame issues. Framing is a way to use language to manage meaning. It’s a way for leaders to influence how events are seen and understood. It involves the selection and highlighting of one or more aspects of the subject, while excluding others.

Hope this blog has been informative to those of you who have followed my writings. John Crnokrak

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