The Power of Trust in Leadership

by | Apr 29, 2021 | Cultivating Leadership | 0 comments

Trust is one thing that constantly stays on our radar. Most of us are vigilant about deciding who we can trust and what information we can trust them with. We do this because we see value in ourselves and want to have valuable relationships. Trust is just one element of building healthy bonds with others.

Here’s a little of what we know about trust.


  • is essential.
  • gives us concrete people and places to return to.
  • sets unspoken guidelines which we can adhere to.
  • helps us to express more and accomplish more.
  • is one of the most unique things we encounter in life because it is such a heavy commitment.
  • hard to accept and even harder to give.
  • necessary for forward movement.

In Mission Leadership, I speak about the importance of trust and being trusted.If trust is something you struggle with, I encourage you to take a look at that course and utilize the information however you see fit.

Today, I want to talk about where trust is rooted. Behind every trusting bond is a reason “why.”

Trust is Knowledge

Information is power. There are people in life I know I can trust because they have invested their time in understanding things they are passionate about, subjects I couldn’t even begin to dig deeper on. When people invest in a subject they love and care about, they are investing in true knowledge, the facts and the figures, their truths.

I’ll be the first one to say someone knows more than I do about something when they do. There is no benefit in pretending that I have superior knowledge in every single thing.

Instead of feeling insecure in someone else’s knowledge, I listen. I listen because if I know I can trust the person and their information, then I can trust that I will learn something new. I could even gain information and insight that helps the team as a whole if I just listen.

Does that mean everything they say will be 100% factual? No, we’re human, but I can’t replace human insight with numbers and figures.

Investing in the knowledge of your team is one of the smartest things you can do as a leader. In leadership, as we attempt to establish trust with our team, we want to ensure that we are giving them enough trust to express the things they’re knowledgeable about.

Trust is Kindness

Imagine walking into a new restaurant you’ve been a bit apprehensive of trying. You stick to your same dinner rotation because it’s comfortable. When you walk in, you aren’t greeted, you aren’t sure where to go or what to do, and you start second guessing why you left your comfort zone to begin with. When discomfort settles in, the optimal experience dies.

This same principle applies to when we work toward building trusting relationships.

Regardless of the type of relationship, leading with kindness to some caliber always helps create trusting environments. Even just an initial kind gesture shows that you’re interested in the well-being of another person. A simple glimpse of kindness can allow someone to leave their comfort zone and be more open and receptive to new things. You want people to trust you with enthusiasm which is why leading with kindness is necessary.

When someone or something is kind, people let their guard down. They become more open to listening and experiencing. When people trust, they listen. When people are listening, the greatest impact can be made.

There is a familiarity to kindness, and oftentime we don’t realize it, but we are constantly seeking out familiarity. Part of that familiarity is what allows us to create an environment of trust.

Reminder: Kindness may not make people automatically trust you, but unkindness will make people automatically distrust you.

When we want others to trust us, we need to lead with kindness.

Trust is Earned

“You can’t demand trust.”

This is just one Addisonism I repeat time and time again because it’s always true. No one can ever force another person to trust them. It takes time and continual effort to establish a true, trusting relationship.

A necessary part of any trusting relationship is understanding. We must give people our understanding as leaders to establish trust. We must be slow to judgement and quick to listen so that we become the place people come back to.

Trust is a lot like water creating a path. That first interaction water had with the earth years and years ago happened and started wearing down on the dirt. It continued to do so, creating a path which it could meet, flow, and reach its final destination time and time again. The river needs the support of the earth just as much as the earth needs that water.

As a leader, you need to trust just as much as you need to be trusted. You need to support the journey to the final destination. You need to realize the strength in a mutually beneficial, trust-filled relationship.

Trust in You

Every one of us has been given the gift of instinct. We must all learn when to trust our gut, when to act on our feelings, and how to decipher which of our voices to listen to.

If you cannot trust yourself, neither will anyone else.

As leaders, it is up to us to make the hard decisions, to clear the paths, and to ensure those we lead are comfortable and ready to follow us to the next bout of greatness.

For a full overview of trust in leadership, sign up for John Addison’s free Mission Leadership course where we dig even deeper into the importance of trust, what makes a strong leader, and actionable things you can start putting into action to take your team even further.


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