“Trust is the foundation of Leadership.” – John Maxwell
When those that follow you lose trust in you, your ability to influence and lead ends.
Leaders maintain a trust account. The balance accrues when you display competence, make positive connections with people, make good decisions, exhibit character, and record successes. The balance declines when you break trust, display incompetence, misuse people, make poor decisions, and exhibit character flaws. Much like a bank account, overdrafts on the trust account create debt and affects your ability to lead.
Character creates trust, and trust makes leadership possible. Whenever you lead people, it is as if they consent to take a journey with you, the way that the trip will turn out is predicted by your character. With good character, the longer the trip is, the better it seems to get; but if your character is flawed, the longer the trip is, the worse it is. No one enjoys spending time with someone they don’t trust.
Your character communicates consistency, potential, and respect. As a leader, your character and values are on constant display. When your character and values are lived inconsistently the balance on your trust account decreases.
Your character effects your potential as a leader. Weak character limits your potential. Many hope that skill, ability, and talent alone determine the level of leadership but those are not enough. Notice that during any sports trading season, there always seems to be a player on a team with great potential but fails to deliver on that potential due to a bad attitude toward his current team. So despite the talent, that person’s potential is limited by a character flaw exhibited through a bad attitude.
Your character affects the level of respect you earn from those that follow. You earn respect through your good decisions, by readily admitting mistakes, and placing the needs of your team and your organization ahead of your personal agenda. Last week, we reviewed The Law of Addition. The leadership role as one of service. The servant mentality enables placing the needs of others ahead of your own.
Why is character so important for leadership? Because it communicates the three things your eyes glossed over in paragraph 3 to your followers
If your ability or expectations change constantly, your people don’t know what to expect from you as a leader. At some point, they won’t look to you for leadership. Each team member already knows what they can “get away with” on your shift. Do you demand excellence? The standards? Positive, enthusiastic interaction with each guest?
Trust is built by achieving results with integrity. When people trust you, they believe your relationship has a future. Are you training someone something new every day? Are you pushing them to reach their potential as a member of your team?
When you don’t have strength within, you can’t earn respect with-out. Are you leading by example? Do you ask team members to scrub a toilet…but you wouldn’t? Change the shortening in a fryer…but you wouldn’t? Refrain from using vulgarities but you let them fly when you are frustrated? Respect is essential for lasting leadership.
H5H Action Step:
- If you have broken trust with others in the past, then your leadership will always suffer until you try to make things right. First, apologize to whomever you have hurt or betrayed. If you can make amends or restitution then do it and commit to work on earning their trust. The greater the violation, the longer it will take. The onus is not on them to trust. The onus is on you to earn it.
Talent is not a substitute for good character. To be a good leader, focus on being good before you focus on being a leader. Character is best learned early. If you don’t learn it early, at least learn it late – just make certain you learn it. To the leader, intellect is important, but integrity is more important. Character shows. So does the lack of character. Character shines in decision making. Mistrust overshadows accomplishments and ability.
As a leader, when you break the law of solid ground, your leadership and influence are jeopardized. When your trust account empties, you give up your ability to influence others, which evaporates your leadership potential.
Lead The Way!