The Trust Factor In Your Leadership And How You Can Gain It

What is Trust ? 

Pompey, The Roman statesman and military leader, is a well known figure in world history.  His father was also a military General with high professional abilities but with a questionable reputation. When Pompey was just around 20 years old his father led a military expedition against a rebellious leader. Pompey also was part of the military operation along with his father.

On the expedition a rebellion broke out among the soldiers who did not want to be led by Pompey’s father. They broke ranks and marched together in unison to Pompey’s father's tent in order to kill him. At this sudden development Pompey sensed immediate danger to life, property and above all the prestige of the institution. He immediately reached the main gate of the camp and addressed the rebellious soldiers at the danger to his own life. He convinced the soldiers to return to duty and work for the mission. The soldiers put only one condition...They should be led by the leader they “Trust. Thus Pompey was unanimously approved to lead the army. 

This incident though very old still highlights what Trust is and how important it is in leadership. One may have the best of abilities in the world but if that leader does not  command trust within the organisation or within the team, it is sure that person cannot lead or be a leader to his team. Leadership has to do with many qualities but the most important among them is trust. If someone lacks expertise and knowledge still that person can be a successful leader. But without the “Trust Factor” even the most knowledgeable and experienced will fail for sure.

The Problems 

If any leader fails to evoke trust the consequences of it can be disastrous for the organisation. The “Trustless Leadership” can survive for sometime because of their authority, rank and status but it does not take long for everything to crumble down.  

In the long run the overall growth and the reputation of the organisation would certainly suffer as some controversies would regularly erupt out of nowhere. The problem solving ability of the organization would surely suffer as leaders with Trust Deficit cannot motivate the members of their organization. Sometimes in precarious situations you need a leader with Trust Factor  who can solve problems as not every problem requires technical solutions. Some problems require the moral or the authority of the leader to solve them. 

In the survey conducted by pwc in 2016 titled “Redefining  business success in a changing world- CEO  Survey” it was found that many CEOs listed trust as one of the most important factors for the progress of the organization. They said that in future the company without trust would fail as well the leaders who lead without trust. So both businesses and leadership have to create trust within as well as outside the organisation. 

An organization with a trust deficit in leadership generally develops a Culture of Conspiracy, Favouritism and Negativity. In such organizations the employees do not perform to the maximum and it decreases the organisational commitment by members. Every decision of the leader is seen with suspicion and efforts are made to subvert it. Good talents also didn't don't get attracted to such organisations because the words definitely get out about the credibility factor of the leader. Ultimately the organization does not  get genuine talent in its pool.  This definitely hampers the operational as well as the strategic vision of the organisation and ultimately affects the organisational prosperity. 

How To Gain Trust ? 

In the IPS (Indian police service) I have seen many situations in which the trust factor has always come to the fore. During my stint in anti extremist operations I have observed teams unwilling to go along with leaders who lack “trust factor” even if they are of very high standards in techniques. But  I have also seen such a situation in which teams gladly allowed themselves to be led by people whom they feel they have a lot of trust in, even if their operational qualities sometimes do not match up to the highest level. 


Why is it that team members  allow themselves complete faith on certain leaders and do not allow such luxury for the other leaders ?  What is that which creates trust and what is that which makes a person lose trust from its own members ?  

The reasons may differ according to situations and circumstances but there are certain reasons which are universal for gaining trust by leaders from their team members.  Researcher Hurley (2006) while studying trust and leadership talked about the recipe  by which leaders can gain trust.  Some of the important reasons observed by Hurley in the study was that “Trustful Leadership” were willing to take risks for whom they lead, has a positive attitude, instills hope in their minds and are clear and unambiguous in their communications.   

In my experiences over the years I have observed one quality in trustful leaders that has been the game changer for them. Their team members trust them for their promises and their deeds and even for their silence. That quality is the ability to speak the truth and to stand up for their team members whenever it matters. A truthful leader may face initial troubles but will certainly gain respect over the course of days. Due to the truthful attitude of the leader there would be a culture of openness, clarity and purposeful engagements within the organisation. Further when the leaders stand up for their men in their hour of need it adds “Value Proposition” to the whole relationship within the organisation. 

A leader must in all circumstances try to gain the trust within the organisation he leads. He must employ all the tools of professionalism as well as his humane side to rise in the Trust Factor Scale. There is no one size fits all solution for gaining Trust but an effective and thoughtful leader definitely uses the time proven remedies as well as his own to lead the way. 

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