Trust seems to be the theme of the week. I have been asked about trust a lot lately. Questions like: How can we build trust within our team? How can I build trust as a leader? Do we need an environment of trust to perform at a high level?

Trust is extremely important! As John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence”. Without trust you will not be effective at influencing anyone, therefore the impact of your leadership is dependent on you being a trusted leader.

In his outstanding book, The Trust Edge, David Horsager talks about 8 Pillars that are key for a person to be trusted. When leaders are intentional about driving each of these pillars, his research shows that they are highly trusted.

The Trust Edge 8 Pillars include:

  • Clarity
  • Compassion
  • Character
  • Competency
  • Commitment
  • Connection
  • Contribution
  • Consistency

Leaders who are intentional about improving each of these attributes will become more highly trusted. I would like to focus on the importance of Personal Character. Servant leaders are intentional about Building Character. As you build your character you will build trust.

Building character is easy to say but very challenging and hard to do. Our personal character is illustrated and on display in our actions on a daily basis. It is our actions that speak the loudest. 

Servant leaders of high character demonstrate and build trust by:

  • Being present and approachable
    • Set aside 1 hour each day to walk the floor and make it a point to talk to 3 new people each day. Get to know people by name, their interests, spouse, and children. Actively listen!
  • Backing up their words with aligned actions
    • If you have a value of excellence you should be modeling that by immersing yourself in personal development. People will believe what you do before believing what you say.
  • Having high morals and a purpose of serving others
    • Simply aligning your actions with your values won’t build trust if your values don’t advance a purpose of high morals. People trust leaders who are working towards making a significant positive impact on the world.
  • Offering praise and encouragement
    • Develop an intentional system of encouragement. I know a leader who puts 8 fishing jigs (sans hooks!) in his left pocket each morning and every time he offers praise or encouragement he moves one jig to his right pocket.  His goal every day is to move all 8 jigs to his right pocket.
  • Increasing responsibility by giving additional tasks
    • High performers appreciate the opportunity to do more. By granting people more responsibility you are illustrating your trust in their abilities.
  • Appropriately increasing autonomy
    • As people become more competent in their roles, release more autonomy to them. Doing so illustrates that you think highly of them and trust them to make the right decisions.
  • Being humble and vulnerable
    • Ask for feedback on the effectiveness of your leadership via surveys. Once you do this make sure to follow up with improvement action items. People will love you for your vulnerabilities.

Character trumps everything in what impacts a leader’s effectiveness. People want to follow leaders of high character. We should be very focused on building trust. The best way to do that is by Building Character!

What is on your agenda this week to Build Character?


“Watch your thoughts, they become words;

watch your words, they become actions;

watch your actions, they become habits;

watch your habits, they become character;

watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.  Psalm 9:10