Be The Leader You Wish To Follow

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.


Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

Copyright: drx / 123RF Stock Photo

Ted Coiné is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership and Management Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership put him in a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, which he co-authored with Mark Babbitt. An inspirational speaker and popular blogger, Ted is a pioneer of the Human Side of Business (#humanbiz) movement. He is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. When not speaking at conferences and corporate functions, Ted advises CEOs on how to become Truly Social Leaders, or “Blue Unicorns” as they put it in A World Gone Social, in order to bring their companies into the Social Age. Ted’s advice: “Change is only scary if it’s happening to you. Instead, bring the change your competitors dread. That is something only a Social Age business leader can accomplish.”

  • 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?

  • 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.

    Keep writing about trust and have a great day!

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

  • 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.

  • footer-logo

    There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

  • Connect

    email: connect@switch&
    1133 Ferreto Parkway
    Dayton, NV 89403

    Terms & Conditions  |  Privacy Policy

    Newsletter Subscription

    Do you like our posts? If so, you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receiveThe Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!
  • Contact Us

    Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.