It has been a continuous discovery over the past 25 years of leadership that all of these layers I have been mentioning are connected. Break one, go without one, decide to have a day off from one and you potentially disconnect them all.

Discretion. Integrity. Attitude. They all add to the level of trustworthiness people feel you bring. There is a simple truth as a leader: if people don’t trust you, they won’t follow you.

I have built up trust with people and then knocked it down myself. I have had golden moments of inspiration that have shown those I lead how valuable they are, followed by moments of absolute stupidity which probably had them wondering if I knew they even existed.

Here are 5 things which can help build that layer of trust:

1. Think before you speak
In a world of immediate connection, a pause before we respond, can be an invaluable tool. Fools rush in. Wait a moment. Think it through. Don’t just say something because you have the right, instead learn to say the right thing

2. Respect those you lead
As leaders we won’t always get the opportunity work with our friends. We have to learn to work with those we don’t know as well, or maybe even struggle to get along with. Learn to respect them. The work they do. The skills they bring. The results they contribute towards. The opinions they may have. The ideas they share. To respect another is our choice. It builds trust. No one wants to follow someone who they feel disrespected by.

3. Understand what’s going on
I have made this mistake before, not really knowing what’s going on with my team or with the project we have responsibility for. Good leaders have their finger on the pulse. Leadership awareness is a necessary skill, not just in respect of your team but also in respect of your own leadership too. Know what’s happening.

4. Secure leadership builds trust
An insecure leader will struggle to gain the trust of others. It can lead to indecision. It can weaken your leadership position. It’s not about faking it but I have learned that I cannot reveal my insecurities to everyone. Have someone you can turn to when it comes to sharing your frustrations. I have found that when I think before I speak, respect those I lead and know what’s going on, I don’t need to feel insecure. I’m being the best leader I can be anyway.

5. Time builds great trusting relationships
25 years of leadership doesn’t come in one year, obviously. Sometimes we are in such a hurry to be liked and believed in that we forget that building trust takes time. After 20 years in my Church I’m hopeful I have enough in the ‘trust bank’ that even if I made a mistake (depending on it’s severity) it wouldn’t be fatal to my leadership. You can’t hide from the fact – trust takes time.

Q: What would you add to help us build our layer of trust?

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