Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trust & Leadership

I truly believe leadership hinges on trust. If above all else leadership is influence, it seems that the greatest impact influence could have would be through a trusting relationship. In other words, if I fully trust in someone leading me - their influence is going to be stronger in and on my life. The problem is that trust is not something that just happens. It cannot be gained in a short amount of time and it is constantly tested. As a leader, you cannot assume you can walk into a situation and immediately command/demand trust from your subordinates. You might wear the boss hat, you might have all the power, but that doesn't equate into trust from those people below you. Trust also isn't something cookie-cutter from the book of how to lead that you can just spit out verbally and expect it to be there. You can tell a person how much they should trust you and how much you have their back, but ultimately it does not matter if you don't live that out or if in the very same breath you communicate a thousand different reasons to not trust you at all. As the old saying goes, "it takes many years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it." With all that said, I find it intriguing that time-after-time I see all sorts of leaders walk into situations and immediately enforce their power and command while putting their subordinates into their place yet trying in the very same breath to pretend to give a rip about the people they are leading. Why should those people follow? Why should they trust? Why should they allow any influence upon their lives?

There have been many leaders in my life. The ones that I trusted showed that they were worthy of my trust, even when they had to make difficult decisions that upset me in the moment. There have been plenty of poor leaders who even though they had the power, their only influence over me was that I learned I never wanted to lead like that. My hope is that in studying my own personal feelings, emotions, and thoughts from those leading me that I will be able to learn how to lead and gather trust better in my own leadership moments.