10 Ways to Inspire Trust as a Leader

Most leaders would like to see themselves as basically trustworthy. To find out that people don’t trust us or question our integrity can be devastating and difficult to accept. If you’ve gotten this feedback, or suspect people do not trust you, here are some relatively simple things you can do to inspire trust:

1. Don’t over commit and do keep your promises. Don’t promise or commit to something unless you know you can honor the commitment. Then, follow through. Do what you say you’re going to do.

2. Keep confidences. However, don’t promise confidentiality if you aren’t sure if you can or should keep the information from others (i.e., performance, legal, ethical issues).

3. Admit your mistakes. Don’t look for someone else to blame. Give others an early head’s up. Learn from your mistake, don’t dwell on it, and move on.

4. Share credit and acknowledge the contributions of others. Be an advocate for other’s ideas, especially your peers.

5. Don’t do anything that you would not feel comfortable reading about in the newspaper the next day.

6. Don’t talk about others behind their backs, unless it’s something positive. If you do, others will assume you’re doing the same to them. And if you say something positive, you can assume it will get back to them.

7. Share information. Leaders often keep people the dark about where they are going or what they are planning. In the absence of good information, people draw their own conclusions. Guesswork is a shaky foundation of trust. Give people consistent updates, status reports, and explain the reasons for your decisions.

8. Get to know people, develop relationships. If you take the time to get to know others and share information about yourself, people will be less likely to question your motives and will give you the benefits of the doubt.

9. Make sure your message is consistent. Don’t say different things to different audiences, in an attempt to please everyone. And if you change your mind about something, explain why your opinion has changed.

10. When asked a question, give a complete, direct answer – no smoke and mirrors. If you don’t have the answer, don’t fake it.