The Three Elements of Trust

One of the key pillars of strong leadership is trust. Your team and your customer’s trust in your abilities and what you stand for as a company and brand is often a major determinant of business success. However, the cultivation of trust and more critically, earning trust when it has been shaken through leadership missteps, may prove to be a daunting task.


Fortunately, studies have shown certain identifiable and repeatable patterns that great leaders demonstrate in cultivating trust. Here are three of the most important aspects:


  1. Positive Relationships

Positive relationships are built when the leader establishes a deep connection with others, which starts from taking a genuine interest in those around you. Spending quality time with the team as well as clients creates a solid platform for listening and learning about their concerns and challenges.

Leaders should be prepared to offer genuine and constructive advice to show support and empathy towards others without any regard for immediate business returns. It is only with this genuine human connection can trust be effectively established.

  • Good judgement/Expertise

While leaders should not be expected to be experts in all areas of their work, it is crucial that they develop respect through possess key areas of expertise. Leaders should be seen as individuals whom colleagues and clients can turn to for insightful advice and opinions to solve the problems that they encounter.

In addition, it is essential to demonstrate high levels of professionalism and acumen when giving advice and helping colleagues and clients achieve their goals. Earning respect reinforces the foundation of trust built from developing strong interpersonal relationships.


  • Consistency

Most critically, leaders are expected to “walk the talk”; leaders should embody the company culture in their daily work. While not every leader is expected to be Steve Job-esque visionary, it is expected that they are able to deliver on promises, honor commitments and to go above and beyond for the success of the company. Nothing erodes trust more than double standards and backtracking; your employees and clients are always watching!



Research has shown that while excellence in all three areas is not a requisite for good leadership, it is essential not to fall too far from these defining pillars of trust.

Of the three, relationships have often been cited as the most essential in defining a good leader; it is difficult for others to keep faith in someone whom they see as being detached and lacking in empathy. So if you are finding difficulty in achieving the leadership outcomes that you may desire, building stronger relationships is probably a good area to start work on.

Article findings and statistics extracted from Harvard Business Review.

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