How Leaders Build Trust

Trust is a foundational element to leadership. A leaders influence, effectiveness, and impact greatly depends on the amount of trust they have with the people around them. A leader must be deliberate about building trust and making sure they protect it at all cost. Below are 5 ways a leader can build and maintain trust:

1. Cultivate a trusting heart- Building trust with others requires that we can be trust worthy and are able to trust others. Redford Williams says, “Such a heart believes the  basic goodness of human kind, that most people will be fair and kind in their relationships with others.” Leaders should be the first people who loan out trust to others.

2. Keep your word- When you say something or make a commitment then keep your word. This requires that your words are followed through with action. Whenever you commit to something, small or big, make sure you complete or accoplish what you said you would do. When people see you’re a person of your word they will trust you and your leadership guidance.

3. Respect others- Respecting the people around you shows you care and value them. Albert Einstein had a great mindset when he said, “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is a garbage man or the president of the university.” When people see you genuinely care about them and their well being they will be more inclined to trust you. Respect always fosters trust.

4. Avoid gossiping- Gossip can bring division and destruction into a team or organization. Leaders should never gossip or allow gossip to come into the organizational culture. This is because it can damage the relationship with the person you are talking about and also the person you are gossiping with. The person hearing you gossip about someone will have low trust with you because they will never know if you will gossip about them.

5. Be dependable- To build trust requires hat your people can depend on you and your leadership. Being dependable requires being present both physically and emotionally while your leading. Remember, “Trust is earned by following through and being dependable in small things as well as in large.” ~Unknown

Questions: How do you build trust with those around you? What are some things people have done to earn your trust? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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56 thoughts on “How Leaders Build Trust

  1. Dan, I really love this because I feel with out trust, you have nothing. Trust is such an essential part of any relationship. How do you repair trust once it has been broken? This is a very hard issue for me. Thanks so much!

    • Hello Jim,

      I totally agree, trust is essential. I think it depends on the situation but know one fact, it takes time to rebuild trust. Whether it’s trusting the person again or re-earning the trust you have broken.

      I might have to write about that in a future post. Thanks for stopping by to read and add to the discussion.

  2. Respecting others is key to building trust Dan! And respect for everyone. Not just heads of companies or our superiors. The truest form of character is how you treat people you don’t need things from. How do you treat the person who serves you, waits on you, checks you in on your flight. Respect is one big way to start trusting someone.

    I deal with some people in my work who try to advantage of others and are not very respectful. When we are in a meeting or trying to negotiate with these individuals, it goes nowhere. It really has nothing to do with the substance of the negotiations. It just has to do with an an underlying lack of trust with those individual, stemming from their lack of respect.

    • It’s another reason why we should be to everyone servant leaders, to show we care and value others.

      Those must be hard meeting to attend. Great example of how not respecting someone can lead to a lack of trust. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  3. Great list and I love that quote from Einstein, that shows the heart of a person I think, especially when they don’t know anyone else is around. I might add actually sharing some personal facts and even struggles that the leader might have lived through or be going through adds a value of trust.

    • Great additional point about being open and honest about our own life. Being authentic is important. Yes, I really liked the Einstein quote! It can reveal a lot. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Man… in the internet marketing industry respect is not something you see around much.

    I would go with #3 as well, speak to everyone in the same way (not looking down nor looking up) no matter who they are.

    I build trust by being transparent, communicating everything including my victories (no matter how small) and my failings (no matter how big) without hesitating about it.

    If I get to the point I want to be at, I won’t need to come up with a “rags to riches” story to empathize with anyone because it’ll be already all there on my site from day one.

    And finally, people earn my trust by doing the same.

    Just take a look at Pat Flynn’s following (SmartPassiveIncome) he didn’t get so popular from his earnings, he got popular because he undisclosed every single thing he was doing online as well as every single penny he earned.

    • Hello Sergio,

      Those are great ways to build trust! Sharing our story is a great way to connect and earn trust with others. Pat Flynn is a perfect example, thank you for mentioning him. Glad to hear your thoughts.

  5. Hello Dan
    What a wonderful post. Trust is a basic value we all should have. I learned a long time ago, sometimes you have to earn the trust. I think about when my children were teenagers and they broke the rules and I had to punish them, due to their disobedience. One thing I would share with them was they needed to earn their trust from me again. Of course they are adults now with their own families and they too are practicing the same thing.
    I agree with your point on number three. Respect yourself first and then you can honor others. No matter who they are.
    Thank you
    Gladys recently posted…Empower Yourself As An Authentic Person

    • Hello Glady,

      I agree, trust is earned. That’s great you taught your kids about trust and that they are teaching their kids. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  6. The small things really do add up to the big picture of who we are. While no ones perfect, how we handle little inconveniences tells a great deal about who we are. I’m guilty of letting small things get to me when I’m under extreme pressure, God’s been showing me that I need to release ALL things to Him, not just the really big stuff.

    Love the quote by Einstein…it’s so true. I pray more people can adopt that attitude…the world we definitely be a kinder place.

    your #1 is hard for me. I’m guarded with trusting others but as I draw closer to God and allow Him to guard my heart, it’s easier to trust and forgive.

    • Releasing everything to God can be hard but it’s so important. For those of faith trusting in God for all things is so essential. Glad you enjoyed the post and quote. Great point about letting God guard our heart. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  7. That’s a great saying by Einstein! it’s something we (or let me be specific, I ) should be striving to live by. People who’ve earned my trust in the past are the ones that cared for my heart – loved me for who I am, not what i was or could be. I think acceptance is huge, when earning trust. People need to know that they accepted, failures/successes or not. Thanks for another great post!

    • I agree, It’s something I want to strive to live by more. Acceptance is a big factor, thank you for mentioning it. Trust is earned when we accept people’s uniqueness as a person. Thank you for adding to the topic.

  8. Hello Dan, Nice post. Respect is something we all need to do online and off. When you’re respected things are so much easier and most of times has a positive out come.
    Thanks so much for post a very interesting article.

  9. Nothing can destroy trust quite like gossiping….glad to see you included it on your list. The people I trust are the ones that have shown vulnerability. If you keep your life as a closed book, not allowing others in to see the good & the bad, it is hard to build trust.

    • I agree Tom. Gossip brings numerous negative effects. Great additional point, vulnerability is so important. Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

    • Great point Jason. Spending time around others can potentially build trust or it can show us that we need to be careful around them. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

  10. As well as these 5 great points, one that I’ve found to be useful is cultivating a character of caring for people. For paying attention and truly listening is excellent for building trust, in my experience anyway. If someone feels valued by you, then I believe that they’d be much more open to sharing with you. Perhaps that’s just another way of phrasing #3, but oh well. Also loved that Einstein quote, hadn’t heard that one before.

    I definitely respect and trust your thoughts, Dan!

    • Great additional points Nick! It’s important to take time to connect and care about those around us, in turn it fosters trust. I really like your statement, “Cultivating a character of caring for people.” That’s defiantly an essential aspect to being a great leader. Ya, I love that quote as well!

      Thank you Nick, I feel the same about you and your leadership. Talk to you soon.

  11. Hi Dan,

    This was a wonderful post on how leaders can create trust. One way I use to build trust with people is to meet them first where they are currently at, before adding my own perspective of the world. By understand the world from the eyes of the other person first, this then enables me to tailor my communication as being relevant with the needs and viewpoints of the person I’m interacting with.

    Thank you.

    • Hello Hiten,

      That’s a great way to connect and build trust with a person. You sure have done a great job with building online trust with others. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. I always enjoy hearing from you.

  12. I hate gossip. I typically don’t hate anything but this is one thing I’ve given an exception to. It’s plague in any organization and should be eradicated immediately Last month I implemented a “No Gossip’ policy in my orgnaization. We wnat to build trust and community not a high school prom.

  13. The small things really add up when it comes to trust. It’s the accumulation of all the little times you follow through on your word that builds the foundation of trust. The big things are just the icing on the cake.


  14. Trust is important that’s why one must have a word of honor. Yes, gossip destroys trust and promotes division. A good leader must instill harmony with his staff by being a good example not to gossip so that he can be trusted–it’s so hard to trust gossipmongers. – Eliminate your fear of cold calling once and
    for all.

  15. Earning trust comes with consistency. I believe that being the true person that you are and continuing to provide value day after day, and being consistent with it, it also builds trust.

  16. Dan, just found your blog and it looks a treat.
    I’d add “maturity” to the list, maybe even move it to the top of the list. So often there are good folks trying to lead but who have the emotional, financial, relational maturity of 12-year olds. Without maturity, the rest is difficult at best. IMHO, of course!

    • Hello Kathy,

      Glad you enjoy my blog. Great addition. Maturity is so important when it comes to leadership and building trust. Thank you for stopping by and adding to the list.

  17. I definitely agree with this list. I would also add that the key component to all of these is to ‘have a genuine interest in people’ or your marketplace.
    If you go into any interaction with an interest in people, you are free to give value. When you’re free to give value, it creates rapport and trust. Dale Carnegie mentions this in his book ‘How to win friends and influence people’. It’s very true :)

  18. My basic approach to building trust is to “do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it.” On top of that, I try to build trust by going above and beyond and by doing more than what’s expected. This is how I build trust & how I increase my trust in others. Dependability and excellence.

  19. Love the emphasis on keeping your word! As you know, I’m a big stickler with that. Kari seems to have it down too. Honestly, humans are such social animals. If you don’t have the direction portrayed through actions rather than words, it’s incredibly difficult for them to follow through.

    • Yes, that’s an important one. I find it’s a small thing that make a big difference when it comes to being trusting. Thank you for reading and sharing.