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Leaders inspire trust 

 April 13, 2017

By  Debbie Nicol

Leaders inspire trust

Trust is eroding rapidly in today’s world. Does that suggest leadership is too?

The research from Kouzes and Posner indicates what makes a difference to people’s level of engagement in the workplace is how the people see their leaders behave! Less than two-tenths of 1% of engagement will be explained by who people are, where they work and the roles they play, while an overwhelming 99+% of people’s workplace engagement is linked to a leader’s behavior.

Credibility for leaders comes from actions; ‘doing what you say you will do’. In the eyes of those a leader influences, intent is secondary to action. Why then do so many leading a team still feel that inconsistency with those actions is acceptable, demonstrating differing priorities for different people at different times?

Consistency is the crucible of trust, which takes dedicated time to earn and mere seconds to come crashing down! Among others, one inconsistent message, an unexpected behavior and misaligned policies can cast shadows of doubt over trust almost instantaneously.

According to the research of Kouzes and Posner, co-authors of ‘The Leadership Challenge’, the more a leader:

  • Is clear and articulate about a philosophy of leadership
  • Follows through on promises and commitment
  • Sets a personal example of what is expected
  • Invests time on the standards that were agreed to
  • Builds consensus around a common set of values with the team
  • Seeks feedback about the impact of his/her own behavior

the more trust will exist, translating into increased engagement and discretionary effort, higher levels of joint ownership, more rapid and targeted results with possible heightened loyalty.

‘There is a close relationship between the frequency that leaders follow through on their promises and commitments and people’s trust in management. Trust drops precipitously as a leader’s follow-through declines,’ cite Kouzes and Posner.

People will believe the messenger by frequently witnessing the above-listed consistent behaviors, as a pre-requisite for showing concern and commitment to any proposed vision. Leadership does not have to erode; that’s the great news! It is however eroding currently, simply because consistent leadership behaviors are not being applied or witnessed by enough people, with enough frequency. As leadership is everyone’s business, what are we all waiting for? The solution is clear!

View supporting data on slide 6

Debbie Nicol


Debbie is tenacious, resilient, can break complexity and ambiguity into concrete simplicity, eats the stage, loves to challenge, Author.
Debbie is a Change Practitioner, Facilitator, Conceptualizer, Design Capability, Asks the right questions, Builds Customized Solutions, Life's Mirror

Debbie Nicol

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