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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training and consulting firm that develops better leaders and trains managers how to become better leaders.

Do your employees trust you to lead them?

This Monday Moment was inspired from a number of sources, namely the commercials I noticed while on the treadmill the other day. They were all about insurance and I noticed my trust of one company over another. I wouldn’t buy insurance from some of them because I don’t trust them. But why? Well, it occurred to me that leaders have the same issue. They have a brand, a need to build market trust, and the need to do the same things companies like State Farm, GEICO, or something called The General do to convey their trustworthiness. No matter the amount of time you’ve been in your role (or in the market, so to speak) and no matter your target market (or employee base), if you don’t have the trust of those you lead, they won’t buy what you’re selling or follow your lead. Think of why you buy insurance from your carrier? Is it because you trust they’ll be there when you need them? Why? And do your employees feel the same about you? Certain behaviors help to build trust and one expert in this area was Dr. Stephen Covey.

Dr. Stephen Covey cited 13 High Trust Leadership Behaviors and they’re worth your review. In fact, I’ve included the entire article describing these behaviors and the research behind why they matter in this blog post. (Download Article Now) There are, however, three leadership trust behaviors that stood out and that will address in further detail here.

Create Transparency

In a workplace culture, secrecy is often supported. Human Resources can’t tell a leader what an employee said. Leaders can’t tell employees about upcoming business changes that will impact their career. Employees can’t tell the leader what someone else said or they’ll be considered a “snitch”. Transparency is not the way many offices work, but it is how a leader needs to behave if they want employees to trust them and their direction. Share the reality of the business. Keep employees in the loop. Give them the skinny. Walk the line between telling them too much and making sure they feel in the know, and the information they’ll share with you will increase, along with their trust. Neither of you may always like what the other has to say, but being straightforward, open, and clear will create a foundation for them always knowing where you stand.

Get Better

This is an entire Monday Moment by itself, but in short, leaders who recognize that failing at something doesn’t make them a failure; learning does not mean they’re weak; and mistakes are one the best ways to know what to do better next time are those employees will trust. No one is perfect and while we know that intellectually, it’s important to examine your mindset around continuous improvement of your leadership skills. Do you believe they are as good as they’re going to get? Do you believe you can learn “new tricks”? Do you believe you can improve? You can, but your belief and mindset will make all the difference and also taint how employees see you. If you feel you must be perfect so will they. If you feel you have no room for improvement, they’ll quickly point out the areas in which you do, perhaps just not to your face. Want to build trust? Be approachable, fallible, human, and a leaders who seeks to get better in everything you do, helping employees to do the same.

Show Loyalty

It should come as no surprise that if you’re loyal to them, they will be loyal to you. But what does that mean? It means you give them credit for their ideas. It means you discipline in private, praise in public. It means you focus on their growth and improvement as well as yours. It means you protect them as much as you can from the slings and arrows from others. It means you care. Ah yes, the crucial leadership trait, without which trust won’t matter. You have to care.

Trust isn’t built in a day. It’s not a task that can be checked off. Building employee trust is a process and Covey’s behaviors and research will help. Your next step is to review this Monday Moment, download Covey’s article, and put these trust actions into your daily leadership practice.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!


Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training and consulting firm that develops better leaders and trains managers how to become better leaders.

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