Leadership and the demands being placed on leaders are changing dramatically. With Millennials becoming the dominant workforce, and the increase of social media, people want to have more access to their leaders. Increased visibility into who they are, what they are doing, and how they are doing it.
This requires leaders to be more transparent than they have ever been in the past.
The impact of this is that one of the key cornerstones of leadership, Trust, becomes significantly more important.
With increased transparency, trust is under the microscope and how you measure up will have a significant effect on how willing people will be to follow you and perform the tasks assigned.
In his excellent book, the Trusted Executive, John Blakey tells us that “the world is ready for a different breed of executive; a leader with transformational trust-building skills. If you want to anticipate and take the lead, if you want to be a pioneer in the 21st-century boardroom and deliver outstanding results, inspiring relationships, and build a cast-iron reputation for trustworthiness then you need to develop trust building habits.”
There are nine habits which split into what John calls the three pillars of leadership which are ability, integrity, and benevolence.
The pillar of ability refers to your professional competence. It doesn’t matter how nice you are, if you fail to deliver the required results, your trustworthiness will be shot.
The habits that will prove you have ability are:
Your own personal expertise to be able to get the job done on time, on budget and to the right level of satisfaction for the customers. Without this ability, it’s unlikely that you will even land a leadership role.
Your ability to be able to teach others to deliver, sharing your knowledge with them to help develop their skills. Heroic leadership will only get you so far; you need to be able to develop talent to create more impact and achieve bigger results.
Inconsistency is trust killer. It doesn’t matter if you’re the nicest person in the world 99 days out of 100, because all people will remember is that one day when you were not. Consistency isn’t sexy or glamorous, but it’s core to trustworthiness.
The second pillar is integrity. Integrity refers to the extent to which you ‘walk the talk.’ You need to be reliable in your behaviors and consistently live up to the values and standards that you have set for yourselves and the organization.
The three habits which help increase your integrity are:
The bar on honesty is rising all the time. Any little transgression can severely damage your reputation. If you make a mistake own up to it, don’t try to cover it. People are watching 24×7, looking for cracks, no matter how small, whether it’s in business or personal life, to assess you in this area.
Being open is about having open communication, being clear about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Sometimes it’s impossible to be open; maybe there are legal reasons.
But we should look to be as open as we can, sharing information that’s available.
It’s also about being vulnerable and being able to own up to your own shortcomings, rather than hiding them.
There is an old Italian proverb that says, ‘At the end of the game the king and the pawn go back into the same box.‘ Leaders who can remember this fact, and also act on it, will be able to make much better connections with their teams. Being humble is about admitting your part in failures, not seeking to claim all of the glory and putting the company and team ahead of yourself personal goals. You want to make people feel like they work with you, not for you.
The third pillar of benevolence refers to our concern for the well-being of others. Here are the three habits which will help boost your benevolence:
This is about setting a positive tone and giving people confidence. You need to have the unwavering belief that you and your teams will be successful and need to share that message with your them, your customers and your stakeholder. This will help build their confidence in themselves and also in you as their leader.
Do you have the moral courage to stick your neck out, stand up for what you believe is right? This is the type of bravery that builds trust in teams when they know that you will do the right thing, even if it could have personal consequences for you.
Kindness is probably the easiest of the nine habits to form, but unfortunately being easy doesn’t mean that it’s always done. Just saying please and thank you can have a dramatic effect, both on the morale of the staff, as well as their level of trust towards you. Random acts of kindness, especially when they are unexpected, can instantly change people’s attitudes towards you, in a positive way. Such as sending people thank you notes and stopping by unexpectedly to say well done.
The world is ready for a new type of leaders, one who is trustworthy, and transparent in everything that they do. If you can adopt these nine habits, it will help you on the journey to inspiring trust in yourself, building teams that will follow you anywhere and deliver outstanding results.