There have been scores of books, blogs, and articles written on the importance of trust in leadership. Most experts, authors, gurus and thinkers agree that without trust you cannot lead. You may be able to herd,or coerce, or corral, or even intimidate, but you cannot lead. And while leaders everywhere would probably agree that this is true, there are very few who know how to go about defining and building this much needed trust. I say defining and building because it’s almost impossible to build, create, or work towards something we can not define. If we relegate trust to that set of things that are simply up to others and we have no influence on them, then we are left to hope it happens. Hope by itself is not a great strategy for a business or for becoming a more effective leader. How we define trust has everything to do with how we set out to create or influence it.
There are probably thousands of definitions for the word itself. Webster’s dictionary goes with: belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc. I don’t think many people would dispute this statement, but it doesn’t necessarily help us create a path toward building trust. Consider this definition: Trust happens when people believe we have their best interest at heart. If we think others are engaged in genuinely trying to help us, we listen and think about their words differently, even when we initially disagree with them. We are quicker to accept information from others that we think has some of our agenda in mind, not just someone else’s. I also think this definition helps us see a path to building trust with any individual, regardless of our experience, our skill, our history, or theirs. We then start to ask the question; How do I demonstrate to someone that I genuinely have their best interest at heart?