At the heart of every leadership initiative is trust. Trust is the ability to compel someone with your words and your actions to believe you and follow you into battle, real or metaphorical. Without trust in your leadership all fancy PR footwork in the world won’t help your organization. Many elements erode trust in the eyes of your followers. Learning how to build trust is a skill you must acquire if you’re going to be a more effective leader. So let’s talk about trust, what destroys it and how to build or rebuild it.
Trust is all about your followers.
In leadership we too often focus on the leaders, not the followers. I think many executives and public figures take this to heart and forget that at the end of the day they are in a position of power because people have given them their trust to represent them and do what’s best for them.
To build trust we must focus on the followers not the leaders. Remove your ego from the equation and see yourself through their eyes. ~Narges Nirumvala
Trust starts with your track record.
A history of good judgement on the part of you and your organization is essential if you’re going to build trust. This is hard I admit if you’re a new captain repairing a broken ship. This is where leaders often fail. They underestimate the intelligence of their followers.
People must see signs of common sense and intelligent thinking if they’re going to give you their trust. ~Narges Nirumvala
Trust is about being honest and giving respect.
Lies erode the fabric of any relationship. We share every last detail of our lives and what they see and hear on social media, so if you lie, you’re going to get caught. Honesty isn’t just about always telling people the truth, it’s about being transparent and showing people the details that they don’t necessarily have to see, but that you are willing to show them anyway.
Paint a vivid picture of you who you are as a leader. Show them the colours of your soul. That’s how you build trust. ~Narges Nirumvala
I also think that honesty is tied into respect. To earn the respect of others you must first give it away. Don’t allow yourself to even think thoughts that are derogatory or demeaning about others.
To earn trust you must give unequivocal respect to others regardless of who they are or what they believe. Treat everyone with the highest regard even if you disagree with them about everything. ~Narges Nirumvala
Learn to build trust in front of the camera.
As a leader you must be able to build trust and show people your best self in front of the camera under high stress. Show them you care about the situation and that you’re going to do something about it. More often than not you’re going to speak to TV crews or answer questions in a media scrum when things have gone wrong rather than right or when there is a big project in the works and people are just waiting for you to fail. You need to be strong, but kind with your answers. Remember that journalists are there to find the truth, so the more you lie the more their dig.
Great leaders allow their emotional intelligence to shine on camera. They let glimmers of sorrow and joy peek through the script. ~Narges Nirumvala
Learn to build trust by connecting with your audience.
I hate it when companies hire a professional spokesperson to share bad news or talk about a big project instead of the leadership doing it. Because they won’t help you build trust. Trust begins and ends with your leader’s ability to connect with his/her audience. They need to be engaging and authentic when they communicate to their stakeholders. They need to be able to answer the tough questions and admit when they’re wrong.
Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. ~Stephen Covey
Trust is about being accountable.
This is especially true if you’re rebuilding trust. You must be accountable for your actions, your missteps and the misconceptions in how the public and your stakeholders see you. So for example if you’re a government funded organization and people perceive that you’re wasting tax payer money paying your executives ridiculously high salaries, then do something about it. I used this as an example because I see this one a lot. There is a strong correlation between greed and eroding trust.
If people perceive you or your organization as dishonest, inefficient and greedy those feelings will just fester and grow if left unchecked. Step up, be accountable and tackle the issue head on.~Narges Nirumvala
I want to end with a powerful quote by Golda Meir. At the end of the day the most impactful leaders in the world start by trusting themselves. Sometimes people lose trust in you because you’ve lost faith in yourself. So trust yourself and be bold about the decisions you make. Just remember that as in all leadership, it’s never really about you. It’s about your followers.
Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. ~Golda Meir
Called ‘The Secret Weapon’ by one journalist, Narges Nirumvala is a world renowned leadership communication expert and international speaker. She is the CEO of ExecutiveSpeak Coaching International and author of the bestselling book “Capture the Spotlight”. Narges works with executives and leadership teams to help them find their authentic voice and speak the language of leadership. Narges has received numerous accolades; most recently she was nominated for the 2016 Wendy McDonald Awards as Community Catalyst.