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Posted by on Jul 9, 2014 in Business, Communication, Culture, Engagement, Featured, Leadership, Transparency | 14 comments

Be The Leader You Wish To Follow

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There is nothing more valuable to a leader than to enjoy the trust of those she leads.

  • When our employees trust us, they will do great things to achieve the goals we set with them.
  • When our stockholders and board trust us, they will give us the freedom to pursue those goals.
  • When our customers trust us, they will eagerly buy from us, happily bring their friends to us, and (if we allow them) even actively co-create the things they want to buy next from us.
  • When our community trusts us and something goes wrong, they will be more forgiving and less punitive as we strive to set things right.
  • Even our vendors will offer us more favorable terms for us when they learn to trust us, because that is how rare trust can be for them.

There is really no end to the benefits that accrue from being trusted. Trust is so essential to business survival that it’s remarkable to me when deeply distrusted leaders or companies survive. But often they don’t. Business without trust is a sucker’s bet.

Want to be trusted? Don’t seek it out. Trust is something you earn, not something you ask for or demand. It doesn’t work that way. Think of trust as a result, not an action itself.

It’s important (and far more fruitful) for a leader to strive to be trustworthy instead of trusted. But trustworthy isn’t an action either. You can’t declare yourself trustworthy, much as crooks and con men, used car dealers and self-described “trusted advisors” throughout time have tried. Being trustworthy is also a result, not an action itself.

The thing you can control? The action you can take? To trust. As a leader, you must extend trust to others – especially to your employees, but also to your customers, vendors, community, and other stakeholders – before they will begin to trust you. Leaders go first. Trust, if you would be seen as trustworthy. Trust, if you would be trusted.

Of the three facets of trust – Trustworthy, Trusted, Trusting – only one is within your control. And that one, to be trusting, is such a profound signal of your confidence and your personal character that its mastery will put you in a class almost by yourself among other leaders.

Leadership talent is rare enough in this world. Leadership character? It’s so rare that, when we find it, we often call that leader great.

Lead a life of significance, not merely of talent. Learn to trust. And in trusting, become the leader you yourself long to follow.

To be trusting, is such a profound signal of your confidence and your personal character that its mastery will put you in a class almost by yourself among other leaders.

 

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Copyright: drx / 123RF Stock Photo

Ted Coiné

Ted Coiné

Keynote speaker. Author of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive. Three-time CEO. Chairman and Founder of Switch and Shift. Ted Coiné is one of the most influential business experts on the Web, top-ranked by Forbes, Inc., SAP Business Innovation, and Huffington Post for his leadership, customer experience, and social media influence. Ted consults with owners, CEOs and boards of directors on making their companies more competitive by making them more human-focused. He and his family live in Naples, Florida.

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  • Karin Sebelin ♥‿♥

    Old school thinking, Ted !

    Begin with giving trust to others and people see you with different eyes!

    “You can’t declare yourself trustworthy!” —> People are trustworthy by nature!

    Worthy is a derogatory term.
    Worthy or not worthy .. how tolerant is that?

    • http://switchandshift.com Ted Coine

      Karin,

      I’m with you to a point: I trust others as my default setting, and wait for them to show me I was wrong before I learn to distrust them. And I do believe that babies are born trustworthy.

      Where we may disagree is, I have met my share of people who do not deserve trust. They’re dishonest. Takers, users… call them what you will, they do exist, be they Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, or that person two desks down who “kisses up and kicks down,” as the expression goes. I have no tolerance for this type – I don’t get angry (usually), just move on.

      If that’s old school then, well, guilty as charged.

      • Karin Sebelin ♥‿♥

        True ..Takers, users… and others are dishonest, Ted!
        Abusing trust and goodwill is a bad behavior and destroys a soul.
        I have learned that the hard way and therefore my topic trust.
        These people do not deserve trust, in most cases.
        Here I am consistent, too.
        I can forgive (for freeing my soul), but I cannot forget such a bad behavior. I learn from these people and reinvent my own leadership.

        Trust means we are able to learn.
        I have learned today again :-)

        Thank you, Ted!

        • http://switchandshift.com Ted Coine

          *Whew!* I’m delighted, Karin.

          You wrote, “Abusing trust and goodwill is destroys a soul.” Plato said something similar about criminals harming their souls when committing a crime. Great minds think alike?

          • Karin Sebelin ♥‿♥

            Sorry I am not so “good” in Plato…had just a look via Google search but did not find anything ….
            My words were spontaneous. I did not reflect here…
            You seem to be very wise Ted … I love that!

          • http://switchandshift.com Ted Coine

            Wise? I’m still working on that, but thank you. Surrounding myself with fascinating people is the key, which I’ve done quite well here at S&S (yes, including you!)

          • http://switchandshift.com Ted Coine

            Wise? I’m still working on that, but thank you. Surrounding myself with fascinating people is the key, which I’ve done quite well here at S&S (yes, including you!)

          • http://switchandshift.com Ted Coine

            Wise? I’m still working on that, but thank you. Surrounding myself with fascinating people is the key, which I’ve done quite well here at S&S (yes, including you!)

          • http://switchandshift.com Ted Coine

            Wise? I’m still working on that, but thank you. Surrounding myself with fascinating people is the key, which I’ve done quite well here at S&S (yes, including you!)

          • http://switchandshift.com Ted Coine

            Wise? I’m still working on that, but thank you. Surrounding myself with fascinating people is the key, which I’ve done quite well here at S&S (yes, including you!)

          • http://switchandshift.com Ted Coine

            Wise? I’m still working on that, but thank you. Surrounding myself with fascinating people is the key, which I’ve done quite well here at S&S (yes, including you!)

  • BarbaraKimmel

    Great post Ted. Just tweeted the second entry. Being viewed as trustworthy takes time, but it is the first step in earning the trust of others. Earlier today I wrote a blog post called The Destruction of Trust. I think it nicely compliments your work above. http://www.trustacrossamerica.com/blog/?p=1380

    Keep writing about trust and have a great day!

    Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Executive Director
    Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

    • http://switchandshift.com Ted Coine

      Friends: read Barbara’s uber-short, really powerful post linked in her comment above.

      Barbara, you’re the expert on this topic! I really appreciate your thumbs up – and your participation here on S&S as a newer member of our community of purpose. Thanks!

  • Alex Gaskins

    I’ll be honest. To be trusting is a difficult one for me. There have been too many times I’ve been burned by people who call themselves leaders. Many times, I will observe and probe to get a sense of a person’s action patterns. If an individual displays a consistent set of patters that I don’t want to align myself with (lackadaisical, dishonest, angry, or pessimistic), I won’t associate myself with them. Never has my observation of patters failed in an assessment of a person’s character.

    I’m always hopeful that an individual will be a person of genuine, moral, character, but I am often heartbroken. To trust that someone has my best interest at heart, while I have their best interest in mine, is an occasionally difficult concept to grasp.