Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

A willingness to trust

If you, as the leader, show a willingness to trust others with information (both personal and professional), constituents will be more inclined to overcome any doubts they might have about sharing information.

Building trust is a process that begins when one party is willing to risk being the first to open up, being the first to show vulnerability, and being the first to let go of control. Going first requires considerable self-confidence. If you, as the leader, show a willingness to trust others with information (both personal and professional), constituents will be more inclined to overcome any doubts they might have about sharing information. Trust is contagious. And distrust is equally contagious. If you exhibit distrust, others will hesitate to place their trust in you and in their colleagues. It's up to you to set the example. To promote trust throughout the organization, be the first to:

  • Disclose information about who you are and what you believe.
  • Admit mistakes.
  • Acknowledge the need for personal improvement.
  • Listen attentively to what others are saying.
  • Invite interested parties to important meetings.
  • Share information that's useful to others.
  • Openly acknowledge the contributions of others.
  • Show that you're willing to change your mind when someone else comes up with a good idea.
  • Avoid talking negatively about others.
  • Say, "We can trust them," and mean it!

- James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner, Santa Clara University. From The Leadership Challenge.