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How can you become a successful leader?

Trust is the key ingredient for effective & prosperous leadership. The days of cutthroat leadership are gone. And ever-present is the necessity to be trusted, respected and even liked in your management position. Yet, every day we hear that leaders all over the world, in politics, in companies and in all capacities don’t have it.

What is going on with leadership? Lack of trust from every angle. Yep that easy. There are leaders who are not trusted and leaders who do not trust. And the disturbing reality is that everyone talks about it – at the water cooler, in the boardroom and over e-mail.

The tendency is to place individuals into leadership roles for tangible skills (e.g.: ability to smash sales targets) but not necessarily their aptitude to lead. To anyone looking on, this would indicate that leadership is not a necessary skill for company success; this is a façade. And it has the potential to create a guarded leader to anyone below him/her. There would always be an elephant in the room; a silent competition. If he got into a management role for sales performance, what’s to stop his teams’ zealous sales efforts to take the job and boot him out? And vice versa, how do you work for and trust someone who is apprehensive of your performance (obtaining huge results vs. poor results.)

Consider the worst qualities to have. Did you think of dishonesty? Immoral? Unethical? Cheat? Cynical? There is nothing stopping a person from gaining management roles with these flaws. And you can attain a role but won’t be a leader of influence, a trusted leader. People hesitate to follow an untrustworthy leader. They will take direction but are not loyal to them. Here in lies the problem: too many assume that reaching the executive suite is simply all it takes to be considered a leader. Wrong!

We are not all born leaders. I’m a proponent of John Maxwell’s conviction that, “leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.” Clearly if you’re going to influence others you will require trust. If you trust someone completely, you will be loyal. You will do whatever it takes to help, support and assist them in their endeavours. And trusted leadership is made up of one primary principle: behaviour.

Behaviour defines your level Trust and your level of Trust expresses your character. Your character will define how much trust you are provided. The trust meter starts at zero. For example: when you first meet someone you have no reason not to trust him or her and they have no reason to trust you. From that meeting, your trust meter starts to climb or drop. Sometimes we hear people say “I just don’t trust them, but I can’t put my finger on it,” or “ I don’t trust them, it’s a gut feeling.” Regardless, you don’t have control over the meter; it moves on it’s own. It’s always behaviour that provokes the trust meter needle to shift up or down. Something they said or did. Or something someone else told you they said or did. And once that meter starts to move it generally picks up momentum and the slightest action or words [behaviour] shifts the meter in the same direction exponentially.

How do you stop it?

Your behaviour speaks very loudly. Without realizing it, your behaviour roars to everyone expressing the type of leader you are. You must build trust.

The not-s0-secret secrets to building trust:

Live by the Golden Rule. Treat people, as you want to be treated. If you simply step back from every situation and ask yourself what is the right way to handle this situation from a people perspective. If the shoe was on the other foot, if I were in their position what would I be feeling and how would I like to be treated. I know sounds too simple. Well it is. And by the way it is hard to do. Think of the qualities of someone you trust all the reverse words come to mind of the untrustworthy leader and more. The trusted person is helpful, caring, friendly, full of integrity and you like them! Ok you are screaming for more helpful pointers so here are the six key ingredients of how to become a Trusted Leader. Remember the common theme is you must be constantly embracing a theme of treating others like you want to be treated. It is the platform to which all trusted leaders stand.

1. Be an effective communicator: Open, honest verbal communication; 80% listening/20% talking.

2. Be loyal and you will command loyalty.

3. Be transparent.

4. Do what you say you’re going to do.

5. When you error (and you will) own it! Be accountable.

6. Establish clear goals (A to B by when) Continuous Improvement everyone wants it, needs it, even you!

Trust others and earn their trust. There is a degree of reality in that you attract from what you put out. If your environment is shifty you will attract shifty people. Remember your behaviour is the mega phone of your character. Be the leader you would want to follow yourself. Act with resolve, virtue and focus.

“Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.”

— Maria Razumich-Zec

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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