Trust: The Most Important Trait of Leadership

Trust: What makes this trait so valuable to leaders? What is the role of this trait in the relationship between leaders and their teams?

Building trust can take years; losing trust can happen in an instant. ~

Creating Trust

There several traits that make leaders great.   Intelligence.  Emotional maturity.  High energy.  Decisiveness.  But the foundation of leadership sits atop the confidence between leaders and their teams. Leaders must have confidence in their teams. Team members must have confidence in their leader. Furthermore, team members must have confidence in each other.  Through training and direction, leaders can help team members build relationships based on trust.

The Benefits

Confidence in leadership strengthens a team.  Every organization has periods of greater challenge.  These periods create uncertainty.  Furthermore, periods of uncertainty create stress.  However, people will tolerate greater uncertainty and pressure in an organization where there is confidence in the reliability of leadership.

The Pillars of Trust


For people to trust their leader, they must know what leaders expect them to do.  Furthermore, they need to know how to do their job.  They must know the deadlines and what methods to use.  Guidelines must be specific and clear.  Furthermore, guidelines help team members engage and trust the process for completing their work.  The clarity of guidelines creates confidence that team members are doing the things leaders expect of them.


Relationships in management run uphill and downhill.  It is not enough that team members have confidence in their leader.  Great leaders must have confidence in all the members of their team.  Furthermore, these leaders must remove team members who are not trustworthy.

A Safe Open Door

Team members must know that they are safe in giving feedback that is vital to the operation of the team.  Furthermore, team members must know that the door to management is open.

The guidelines must specify which things team members take to the team leader.


Confidentiality has two requirements.  1) Qualified to know.  2) Need to know. For many people, this concept is new.  Therefore, I will repeat the two requirements.  For someone to receive information, they not only must have the qualifications to know.  They must have a need to know.  These requirements in managing information is the standard for the U.S. Military.

When leaders and team members follow the requirements of confidentiality, they create confidence in the integrity of the entire organization.  Furthermore, they reduce the spread of gossip as well as the spread of other information that detracts from the focus of the organization.