The Most Important Word In Leadership
If you had to sum up everything you believe about leadership, your core philosophy, in just one word, what word would you choose?
Would you choose Accountability? Vision? Inspiration? Resolve?
Those are all incredibly important, but there’s one that trumps these words, these skills and traits.
How about Humility? Decisiveness? Agility? Inclusion?
All important, but again, there’s one word that’s more essential to every leader. That word is Trust. It is the basis for everything else you believe and do as a leader. And everything you likely think you understand about trust and leadership is exactly wrong.
I speak with leaders, especially business leaders, all week long. It’s what I do: advising the C-suite and the board is my area of professional practice. And most often, when the essential topic of trust comes up, this is what most leaders tell me:
“Trust is vitally important for the success of this organization! How do we find more trustworthy people?”
“Stop it!” I want to shout. “Who hired you?” (I refrain).
I also hear this one much more often than I’d like to:
“How do I get my employees to trust me more?”
What can I do to make myself a more open, trusting person, so that I can be a better leader?
That is less egregious, perhaps, but still half backwards. And between them, these two leadership misconceptions of the basic nature of trust are killing companies large and small, on a global level.
Instead, this is how trust must – and I insist – must function in the mind of a leader:
“I need to trust my people more. What can I do to make myself a more open, trusting person, so that I can be a better leader?”
No one will trust you if you are distrusting yourself. And no one will be trustworthy if you don’t show your trust first.
Trust is a leadership issue. The leader must always go first.
On July 4th, we’ll run my second in a three-part series on trust in leadership. To celebrate America’s Independence Day, I’ll share what I believe to be the most essential leadership lesson of many that George Washington lived as our nation’s founding commanding general. I hope to see you back then!
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