It is essential to be seen as trustworthy by those who follow you to be an effective leader. In a recent study, researchers found that trustworthiness was the most critical trait for leaders, followed closely by intelligence.
Researchers asked participants to rate how important certain traits were for effective leadership. By a wide margin, the most essential feature was trustworthiness, with 86% of participants saying it was either “extremely important” or “very important.”
This isn’t surprising when you think about it. After all, would you want to follow a leader you didn’t trust? Trust is the foundation of any good leader-follower relationship. But why is that?
1. What is trustworthiness, and why is it so important in a leader?
Trustworthiness is the quality of being honest, reliable, and able to be depended on. It is an essential trait for leaders because it helps build trust between leaders and followers. When people trust their leaders, they are more likely to follow them and believe in their vision.
Different studies have shown that trust is essential for effective leadership. Researchers found that when people trust their leaders, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. Another found that when employees trust their leaders, they are more likely to stay with the organization.
2. How can you develop trustworthiness in yourself and others around you?
You can do a few things to develop trustworthiness in yourself and others around you.
Honesty is the foundation of trustworthiness. If you want people to trust you, you need to be honest with them. This means being truthful about your own abilities and limitations and being open and transparent about your actions and decisions.
Neo Kian Hong of Singapore’s SMRT Corporation is an excellent example. In 2018, he acknowledged previous criticisms of slow innovations in their train services and committed to being more transparent about their plans moving forward. This helped build trust with the public and showed that he was committed to making changes.
People need to be able to rely on you to do what you say you’re going to do. If you make a promise, make sure you keep it. If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you follow through. This can be difficult, especially if you’re taking on more than you can handle. But it’s essential to be realistic about your capabilities and only make commitments you can keep.
People need to know they can depend on you, especially in times of crisis. Playing a role alongside reliability, being dependable means being there for people when they need you. This could be something as simple as being available to answer questions or offering help when someone is struggling.
An example of someone dependable is Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. During the Great Depression, he lost everything, but he continued to show up to work every day to cook for his customers. He was eventually able to rebuild his business and become successful again.
Communicate openly and frequently
Communication is key to any relationship, including the leader-follower relationship. Leaders need to communicate openly and frequently with their followers to build trust. You need to be clear about your expectations and give people the information to make decisions. It would help if you also were willing to listen to feedback and address concerns.
If you want people to trust you, you need to be consistent in your words and actions. This means behaving in a way aligned with your values and beliefs. It also means following through on your commitments and keeping your promises. Consistency requires self-discipline, but it’s worth it if you want to build trust with others.
3. How can you overcome challenges to your trustworthiness and rebuild trust with others?
There will be times when your trustworthiness is challenged. This could be due to a mistake you made or something beyond your control. If this happens, it’s essential to take responsibility for your actions and make things right. Apologizing, admitting your mistakes, and making changes can go a long way in rebuilding trust with others.
Even if you’re not at fault, there are still things you can do to rebuild trust. For example, if you’ve been through a challenging experience, such as a layoff, you can share your story and be open about its effects. This can help others see you as human and build empathy.
Trustworthiness is one of the most essential traits of a leader. People need to be able to trust their leaders to follow them. Leaders need to be honest, reliable, dependable, and consistent to build trust with their followers. If your trustworthiness is challenged, think about what you can do to rebuild trust with others.