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What makes a leader trustworthy?
How would you rank your trust in your boss? How would your employees, family, spouse, friends, etc., rank their trust in you?
I was challenged by David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge, to think about this more deeply at the University of Illinois Extension’s Exceeding the Vision Conference last week. I’ve been fortunate to hear many great speakers, but David stood out as one of the best I’ve heard in some time for his powerful message about trust.
Horsager set the stage by defining trust as a confident belief in a person, product, or organization. As trust increases, he explained, so does output, morale, retention, productivity, innovation, loyalty and revenue. As trust decreases, costs, problems, skepticism, attrition, time to market, and stress increase. It’s easy to see why companies with high trust levels outperform companies with low trust levels by 186%.
Here are a few of his key points in discussing the eight pillars of the most trusted leaders.
1. Clarity. We trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous. Any time you add complexity to what you do, you lose trust. If you have more than three priorities at a time, you really don’t have any.
2. Compassion. It turns out that compassion affects trust and the bottom line more than you think. LAW of Compassion. L-Listen. A-Appreciate. W-Wake up and be present. Nobody gets enough appreciation. Want to kill someone’s self-esteem? Tell them good job when it wasn’t. Notice what others do. Appreciation changes things.
3. Character. Do what needs to be done when it needs to be done whether you feel like it or not. It’s the work of life to do what is right rather than what is easy. People love people who do what they say they will do.
4. Competence. Input leads to output. The energy you put in is exactly the same as what you put out. The thoughts you put in lead to the desires which lead to actions. If input matters, how am I staying fresh, relevant and capable?
5. Commitment. Commitment breeds commitment. Every time you make a commitment you can’t make, you lose trust in yourself. The only way to rebuild trust in yourself and others’ trust in you is to make and keep a commitment.
6. Connection. There are repelling traits and magnetic traits of people. The #1 trait of the most magnetic people in the world is gratitude.
7. Contribution. You can have compassion and character, but if you never contribute the results, it doesn’t make an impact. Getting the right results matters. There are two sides of contribution – daily contributor to myself (how do I get the most important things done?) and How do we motivate others?
8. Consistency. We trust sameness. It’s the little things, done consistently, that make the BIGGEST difference.
You cannot have clarity without consistency. Just as you cannot have connection without commitment or competence without character. These pillars of trust work hand in hand. And it doesn’t happen overnight. But when these eight pillars of truth work together, greatness explodes in leaders, organizations, friendships, marriages, and more. Just a few things I've been pondering since last week. A big thanks to University of Illinois Extension for bringing in this challenging and motivating speaker!