Watching the coverage of the UK and US election campaigns, I’m reminded of the crucial role trust plays in winning people’s hearts and minds. With research showing that trust in politicians on both sides of the Atlantic is at an all time low, the leaders of the different political parties have their work cut out for them.

Great leaders understand that trust is earned not given.  Once lost, trust is hard to rebuild. Warren Buffet highlighted this when he said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” The key to doing things differently is to build trust using the following equation:


                          SELF INTEREST

As a leader, this means being credible, reliable and empathetic whist keeping in mind the needs of others in order to earn their trust. Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail below.

1. Establish relevant experience and expertise

Credibility is an essential part of the trust formula. You need to convey your technical competence and leadership experience so your team believes in your ability to lead. This means highlighting your track record of success. 

2.  Deliver on your promises 

Trustworthy leaders are accountable for their actions. You need to be reliable and act with integrity. This inspires confidence and encourages others to buy into what you have to say.  If things don’t work out as planned, be transparent and own your mistakes. As Simon Sinek says, “Trust has two dimensions – competence and integrity. We will forgive mistakes of competence. Mistakes of integrity are harder to overcome.”

3. Demonstrate empathy 

Understanding what makes other people tick lies at the heart of what it takes to be a trustworthy leader. Dial up your empathy and show your team that you understand their specific challenges and are prepared to support them on their journey.

4.  Minimise your personal agenda 

This ability to limit your self-interest and put the needs of your team and the business above all else is what makes a truly trustworthy leader. This means leaving your ego at home and focusing instead on getting the most out of your team.

Whether you’re the leader of your country or CEO of your company, following the formula above will enable you to lead by example and set the tone for your organisation by building strong relationships based on trust that deliver real results.