Trust: What do you promise people?

Sara Longenecker _Trust in Leadership

**This series on leadership is inspired by Gallup’s StrengthsFinder test and materials. I highly recommend everyone to take it– it is the most accurate and encouraging test of its kind that I’ve come across. Just so you know, I don’t make any commission off that link; I’ve just found it to be a valuable resource and want to share it with everyone!**

When thinking about our particular places of leadership or influence, sometimes it’s helpful to remember that we are essentially building TRUST with those we lead: our co-workers, our fellow laborers in non-profit/ministry, our families. Research has found that trust is the single most important element that people express when asked about (positively) influential leaders in their lives. The Gallup national poll statistic is this:

“the chances of employees being engaged at work when they do not trust the company’s leaders are just 1 in 12. In stark contrast, the chances of employees being engaged at work are better than 1 in 2 if they trust the organization’s leadership– a more than sixfold increase.” (Strengths Based Leadership, Barry Conchie & Tom Rath, Gallup Press 2008.)

So we must ask the simple question, “What are we promising them?”

What expectations are we setting up for others? What does the goal mean to them? These become promises in the heart.

Trust is built with the structural support of honesty, integrity, and respect. As obvious as it sounds, we cannot (and must not!) demand these things. It takes tenacity and discipline for anyone to walk them out on a daily basis, but it is essential for the leader building a strong foundation of trust. And then of course, we gotta work our tails off to fulfill those promises with joy!

Your particular set of strengths will help you build trust with others in a different way than my strengths will. And thank God for that. We need diversity in leadership (in many ways) and we will discuss that in the near future.

But for now, let’s start with those directly around us –our closest three to five people– and remember that we are actively building trust with them. Therefore we can start by simply asking the question: what do we promise people?

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