How Authentic Leaders Maintain Trust

I have participated in many teams over the years, some good and some not so good.

One team in particular stands out. It was an incredible team. It was an ad hoc team created to address an acute and emergent problem.

We were made up of representatives from many different groups, had ground rules that everyone respected, each person came fully engaged, and the work we accomplished was truly remarkable.

There was no question we trusted each other. That trust was built and maintained through daily interactions and consistent check-in points. We felt we could do anything.

Our organizational leadership was highly supportive of our group and praised the individuals and outcomes. They stated they trusted us implicitly and said we had top priority.

Yet, our team didn’t feel the support that was shaped with words. Why? Because our leadership wasn’t with us.

What do I mean they weren’t with us?

Didn’t they give us cart blanche ability to accomplish what we needed to do? Yes, they did.

Didn’t they tell us they supported and trusted us? Yes, they did.

Didn’t they say the work we were asked to do was priority? Yes, they did.

So, how were they not with us?

The answer is simple: words didn’t match behavior.


Here’s an example. Even though words of trust, support, and priority were given, when meetings were called to talk about progress, leadership was not consistently present.

Reasons given for lack of attendance frequently involved being double or triple booked.

Sentiment on the team started to build that we weren’t a priority because we were treated as though we were another item to massage around in their crammed calendar.

We were told we were priority, yet we were being shown we had no priority.

Leaders build trust when their behaviors match their words.

Words are easy to produce. Behavior takes commitment and intentionality.

Leadership may truly trust their people, yet if they aren’t engaged and present the end result will be mistrust.

Space in time and proximity between leaders and their followers must be small in order to build and maintain trust.

This is not micromanagement - this is being fully present when questions arise and showing up to agreed appointments.

Leaders who are with engender and maintain trust.

It’s a constant engagement.

It’s a constant intentionality to follow words with consistent behavior.

Leadership is never a “one and done” situation.

I agree with Craig Groeschel; authentic leaders do consistently what others do occasionally.

Authentic leaders are consistently with their team in word and action.

Be with.


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