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Leadership trust ingredient

Trust = Competence + character

Leaders occupy visible places in organizations and all their conduct and decision making shall be judged by both their subordinate as well as their superior. Hence, you can expect that coworkers at all levels will scrutinize your actions as they decide whether to trust you.

When deciding whether to trust you, colleagues usually judge on –

  • Your competence or lack of it. Do you understand your job’s requirements? Do you understand how the unit works? Do you have the clout to get resources, cooperation, and approvals from the rest of the organization? Usually the requirement for one to fill a leadership position is their experience in that area and their competency. Hence, if you lack in either one, trust might be hard to gain.
  • Your character. Are you fair and honest? Do strong moral values guide your decision making? Do your actions match your words? What does your body languages says? It usually comes down to whether you walk the talk or not. It easier for the ‘boss’ to instruct their subordinate to do something good while not doing so themselves. Therefore, it is better to lead by example.

Leadership competence

Sometimes people think competence means simply knowing how to do the job. As a leader, it’s important to know enough about your group’s work to guide others and make intelligent decisions. However, you don’t have to be the ultimate authority on the technical aspects of your work. Savvy leaders hire people who have more technical expertise than they do for their teams.

A competent leader understands:

  • How the group functions. What role does each person play? What does the group need in terms of resources and direction? How are technical skills put into action? A leader gains this insight primarily through on-the-job experience.
  • How to wield influence within the larger organization. What organizational politics are needed to navigate to get your work done? What pressures and opportunities does the group face? What are other units’ goals and competing interests?

Leaders earn their reputation for competence over time because it would required back-up by consistent and proven track record. They do it by building a record of accomplishments problems solved, resources attained, and employees developed and promoted.

What is character?

Competence is knowing what to do and how to do. Character is showing that you intend to do the right thing, an equally vital part of leadership because the right thing is not always the easiest path. People want to anticipate what you will do. The only way they can predict your behavior is by knowing your belief, values and motives. 

Leaders who have trustworthy character demonstrate integrity. They have an internal  or moral compass: Even under pressure, they follow a consistent set of values about what’s wrong and what’s right and make decision based on those.

Trusted leaders:

  • Recognize the ethics involved in business situations – and at times can be supplemented based on cultural norms since ‘moral’ at times might differ from different places, time and culture wise
  • Make moral judgments
  • Match their actions to those judgments
  • Influence others to act ethically

Build your character

If you hold yourself to high moral standards, you’ll reap powerful benefits both in your career and in your personal life. Just as per advise that I usually heard from Dave Ramsey, you need to have a good work ethics.

Come to the office 5 minutes earlier and leave 5 minutes later than you supposed to. And actually work while you at work. People (your employer) will take notice because nobody else actually do this.

It is a relatively simple ethics, but things like this in the long run will build your reputation which in turn build your character and nurture trust.

To both earn and keep others’ trust:

  • Be a role model. Work hard, protect company values, and make the same sacrifices you ask of others.
  • Respect the work. Be prepared, care about quality, put forth your best effort, and commend others when they do the same.
  • Value individuals. Listen to others, protect people’s dignity, show appreciation, and consider your team’s interests when making difficult decisions.
  • Be emotionally steady. Manage your own emotions and be positive, resilient, and aware of your impact on others.

Well, that’s that for now. There’s a lot of things that can be immediately implemented but there’s also some things that would be built over time. Trust is one of that. It will take time.



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