Wednesday, April 4, 2012

20 Signs That You Can’t be Trusted as a Leader

“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”
- Leadership Guru Warren Bennis

“In leadership, there are no words more important than trust. In any organization, trust must be developed among every member of the team if success is going to be achieved.”
- Duke Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

“If I can’t trust you, then I can’t work with you – end of story.”
- Leadership Blogger Dan McCarthy

“The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won’t get much sleep.”
- Woody Allen

Are you a trustworthy leader? Take the assessment below. Sure, everybody may do a few of these now and then. However, if there’s a consistent pattern of multiple behaviors, then I’d say there’s a serious issue of trustworthiness.

1. You don’t do what you said you were going to do.

2. You overpromise and under deliver.

3. You’re unpredictable and inconsistent.

4. You always seem to have a hidden agenda.

5. You’ll agree just to avoid conflict.

6. You never share anything personal about yourself.

7. You never seem to finish anything you start.

8. You have a reputation that says you can’t be trusted.

9. You’re never willing to take a stand.

10. You won’t listen.

11. You don’t seem interested in what’s important to others.

12. You gossip about other people and disclose confidential information.

13. You make decisions but don’t explain how and why you made the decision.

14. You often change your plans or mind and don’t tell others about it or explain why.

15. You come across as uncompassionate and insensitive.

16. You won’t admit your mistakes or acknowledge your weaknesses.

17. You misrepresent other’s views.

18. You’ll say anything to achieve your objectives and results.

19. You sugarcoat the truth.

20. You see others as a threat when they are successful or come up with good ideas.

Anything to add to the list?


Ibrahim Al-Banna said...

Wonderful article. I Love it. If I would add:
21- Play dirty politics and spread rumours.

timage said...

Wow. A very convicting list. I'm going to pass this on to my student leaders. This should get the discussion going.

Oh...and I would add...#22.You do everything yourself and you do everything by yourself.

Michael Edward Kohlman said...

Another Great Post Dan.

#23 - You Claim the Accomplishments of Others for Yourself.

Dan McCarthy said...

Thanks! Good addition.

Should be a good discussion, wish I could be a fly on the wall!

Right, thanks, goes hand in hand with #16.

hr diagram said...

Some leaders were very successful leaders but very very bad people and certainly did not even pass half of the list.. The question is are they good leaders long run? Or is it that they were lucky for the short term?

Anonymous said...

Great article and bold also. No 20 is so poisonous for a any team or social group, can kill initiative, authenticity...

From my experience and I would say not very lucky one, I would add:

24. You don't have a vision or not share
25. Keep information for yourself and share only what you consider can't give other advantage
25. For you everything is a war and you must win every fight

Dan McCarthy said...

Thanks or your question. I would say no and maybe.

Dan McCarthy said...

Thanks for those additions to what is becoming a long list of reasons not to trust a leader.

Sikelelwa said...

27. Just be aware that your blindspots are evident in your denial. (Everything that you proudly announce to the world as beneath you or as something you would never do; oddly enough, its exactly what you covertly do!)

Dan McCarthy said...

Sikelelwa -
Thanks, wow, that's a hard one to be aware of!

Duncan Brodie said...

Great piece Dan

Some other ideas

You never delegate or empower others to deliver.

You play politics

You don't deliver what you promise

Charlie Green said...


First, please please fix the title of your blogpost; it's missing a word. I must be the only anal-retentive person it bothers, but it does!

There, now that's done; great list, many thanks. In my book, Number 10 is the ultimate sin.

Numbers 4, 5, 16 and 19 are all powerful indications that one is operating from self-fear, and therefore can't be trusted. Those are biggies.

It's a small point, but in #2, I'd also add "under-promise and over-deliver." Whether you're under-promising or over-promising, you're still consciously misleading the other party, manipulating their expectations. You're better off telling them the truth.

Great list, many thanks,
Charlie Green

Dan McCarthy said...

Thanks, nice adds!

Dan McCarthy said...

Thanks! It's amazing that you're the first to point it out. Arrrgh.
Thanks or the additional points too, well said.

Scott Bennett (ScottB3nn3tt) said...

Great thoughts. I would add: You deem any questions you get (even clarifying ones) as insubordination or dissent.

Dan McCarthy said...

Scott -
Thanks - good add. It's interesting that many of the comments paint a picture of a suspicious, untrusting person - which causes mistrust, right?

Douglas Green said...

How about "you don't get mad, you get even?" Chances are that anyone with many of these characteristics won't get a leadership position unless through nepotism or a really bad hiring process. Keep up the good work and look for this to be posted as a Net Nugget at http://DrDougGreen.Com.

John Spence said...

Absolutely DEAD on --- great post - thank you very much!!!

Dan McCarthy said...

John -

Andy said...

Good stuff. I would add:

You don't feel as though you can trust anyone else.

Dan McCarthy said...

Andy -

Career Choice said...

This such a greaaaat article! I hope my former boss gets to read this too. I am sure she will perfect the score :)