Trust is the foundation of leadership. Without trust, everything either slows down or stops altogether.

Effective leadership is a combination of several key skills or attributes; Vision, Integrity, Planning, Communication, Building Teams and Coaching. Consider how many of these are dependent on trust:

Vision: No matter how clear and compelling your vision, if people do not trust you they will not follow you in pursuing the vision. They will probably find someone else with the same vision, who is more trustworthy, and will follow them instead. Trust is essential for people to buy into your vision.

Integrity: Integrity is really all about building trust. Do you consistently say what you will do? Can people trust you to make the right decisions, leading to the good of the organisation rather than for your personal gain? Without trust no one will look to you as a person of integrity.

Communication: When there’s a high degree of trust within a relationship, communication is clear, simple and fast. Information is readily shared, and everyone feels they know what’s going on. Without trust, communication slows down. People are more reluctant to share anything (be that new information, upcoming problems, personal motivations, etc). And anything that is shared is then relentlessly analysed and second guessed. ‘What do they really mean by this?’ ‘What’s their angle?’ Without trust communication grinds painfully to a halt.

Building Teams: Trust is an essential requirement for teamwork. And the difference between a coldly functional team (where people play their role and nothing more) to a high performance team (where everyone goes the extra mile to support their colleagues and make the vision happen) is all due to trust. That community spirit essential for both fun and success as a team only happens when people trust each other.

Coaching: Mutual trust is essential in any effective coaching or mentoring relationship. If people are going to open up to change and receive feedback they need to trust the person on the other side of the table. ‘Does this person have my best interests at heart? Do they care about me?’ Not answering yes to those questions will lead the relationship to fail. Answering yes requires trust.

So trust is crucial for effective leadership. It’s the foundation of leadership, upon which everything else is built. A good leader recognises that to create success they must create relationships of trust where a) people trust them, b) they trust their people, and c) their people trust each other.

What are you doing to build that foundation in your leadership?

Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.

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