How Leaders and Managers Earn Trust

A good organization understands the vital importance of leadership and management, and leaders and managers understand the vital importance of those they supervise and mentor. It has to be a top down-bottom up approach, where everyone has an equal say, but leaders and managers are there to make sense out of all the information they receive, as well as to guide and steer others within the company.

Good managers are mindful of the simple fact that they are in relationships with their employees. And those relationships require tending. They must demonstrate excellent people skills and interpersonal interactions. Managers who fulfill their relationship responsibilities will have more informed, and more productive, employees.

 The Biggest Mistake A Leader Can Make –

Power Corrupts

One of the problems that leaders and managers face is that there is an almost ingrained distrust, or suspicion. There is distrust of the leaders and managers—suspicions of their abilities, their integrity and their agenda.  Trust means confidence.  It is the small, day-to-day things that build trust or lead to a sense of betrayal among employees. And trust is the backbone of any relationship, personal or professional. Strong organizations and managers know that people and the relationships get the work done. Business is conducted through relationships.

Leaders and managers sometimes have to make difficult decisions that not everybody will be happy with, and if there is a lack of trust it is all too easy to assume they made those decisions for personal gain, rather than the greater good of the organization.

Important psychological research has indeed demonstrated that there are corrupting factors within power. High-powered people hold others to a higher standard. They are more likely to cheat and are less tolerant of others breaking the same rules.

Management MapNot everybody in power will succumb to corruption. Some of us are fully immune and from those that aren’t, a large proportion actively chooses not to be corrupt. However, the distrust is automatically there and one of the main challenges faced by leaders and managers is how to overcome that.

Furthermore, our leaders and managers are encouraged at all times to pursue excellence. The idea is that in doing so, in fighting to achieve excellence at the top, achieving excellence at every point will follow automatically. Some, however, think that this is a huge mistake.

Managers should take aim at things we hold dear, such as excellence, fairness and collaboration. There are seven so called “sacred cows,” being:

  • balance
  • creativity
  • collaboration
  • excellence
  • fairness
  • passion
  • and preparation

Only by getting all of these right will managers not become – or appear to have become – corrupt.

An Example of Best Practice

The company Gen Y is known as a dynamic, creative and optimistic company. Their staff members regularly provide feedback on leadership and management and on how they feel things could be done better. They feel leaders should be able to offer constructive criticism.

Spotlight on LeadershipLeaders should be kind but firm when delivering these comments and offer to explain further if needed.  They should also offer positive feedback whenever possible, as well as offering constant feedback. It is these processes that make employees feel valued and understand that there is no corruption in the top echelons of their organization.

Personal credibility is the foundation of leadership and being trustworthy is a core component of credibility.  It begins by saying what you are going to do, then doing what you say you will do.  They should be active listeners and consider others’ input.  Knowing how to communicate, get things done and make decisions within the culture at hand will make or break a leader in his or her role.

Many organizations now know that they have to create what is known as an “ethical workplace.” The key to success is that there is trust between the different levels. There is a need for leadership and management, but their tasks can only be performed appropriately if the rest of the workforce trusts that what lies at the heart of their decisions is the good of the company and the good of the workforce. Hence, defining what trust is should always be the first step towards restoring confidence in the leadership and management of a company.  Trust is telling the truth, even when it is difficult, and being truthful, authentic, and trustworthy in your dealings with employees.

Restoring workplace trust requires that three questions be answered: What is trust; why is it important; and how do organizations build it. Interestingly, few of the responses indicated that our economic crises and their aftershocks were the actual cause of rising distrust.

The Financial Aspect

We continue to go through times of tough financial austerity and companies try to save money wherever they can. However, sometimes it is necessary to spend money in order to make money, and it seems that having trust in leadership and management is worth around $305 billion each and every year. That is a serious amount of money and shows the importance of investing in the best leaders and managers money can buy. It seems that a key is that those at the top need to find ways to engage the full workforce in decision making processes.

To restore productivity HR needs to stop being “an advocate of people” and become “an advisor on productivity.”

There are a few things that companies have to bear in mind. First of all, different age groups have differing motivations. Secondly, the role of HR is to be operational and strategic. Last but not least, it is about being engaged across the board, which gives that top down and bottom up approach that is so incredibly important.

The Personal Issue

One last problem is that many managers feel they have lost their identity through their work. When working for a certain company, they slowly but surely start to live, breathe and be the identity that comes with the organizational culture. For instance, a company that is all about the profit will produce leaders and managers that focus solely on the profit. They may be fantastic managers, with the right people skills and the right experience, but place them in a different company with a different ethos, and they will no longer be able to perform, even if they claim that the new ethos is one they would actually support far more so than that of the previous company.

Companies that recruited top talent away from successful organizations often found that their leaders could not transfer their formula for success.

This is why it is important that any leader or manager defines a style or approach that is particular to them. They should learn how to tell their own story and never stop in their own path of growth and learning.  In turn, they should foster continuous learning by developing their employees.  They must display professionalism at all times and role model the company culture. Last but not least, they have to understand the bigger picture – the fact that they are mentors and guides. Put all of this together, and you will have a leader or manager that will never corrupt and will instead carry their workforce to greater levels.


Co-owner/Co-founder of Intesi! Resources. Educated as an architect I transitioned to technology during my career in architecture. Intesi! Resources was founded in 2004 and my focus is everything Web/eCommerce related from the design and development of our site to all the marketing activities involved. I also provide significant support for our clients on all our products and how they are used to deliver assessment-driven learning solutions that develop self-awareness and interpersonal skills.

This entry was posted in Leadership, Leadership Development, Management and tagged , on by .

About Steve Giles

Co-owner/Co-founder of Intesi! Resources. Educated as an architect I transitioned to technology during my career in architecture. Intesi! Resources was founded in 2004 and my focus is everything Web/eCommerce related from the design and development of our site to all the marketing activities involved. I also provide significant support for our clients on all our products and how they are used to deliver assessment-driven learning solutions that develop self-awareness and interpersonal skills.

11 thoughts on “How Leaders and Managers Earn Trust

  1. Erin

    Even though this topic is clearly referring to how power can be abused by persons in positions of leadership within an organization. However, you can also look back through history and how persons is positions of political power can easily become corrupt and abuse such power. Well, on a smaller level, similar principles can apply, no? I certainly am not surprised by less than honorable company chiefs.

  2. Mike

    I think it is a good thing when there I a person in a managerial position who is secure enough to let others work in their own style. When a leader is flexible, it encourage employees to take initiative. It makes coworkers want to accept more responsibility. I have worked in places where there was this kind of trust and flexibility and it makes for a positive environment.

  3. Jorge

    I was told once that to be an effective supervisor I couldn’t be their friend, but isn’t gaining their trust becoming their friend? I was always under the assumption that you could get more flies with honey then you could vinegar. Thank you for posting this article that was very informative and I learned a lot from it that I can apply.

  4. Mable

    This may sound pessimistic (I am not…honest), but some persons just are not interested in getting along because of an ulterior motive. I remember the time I was hired by a company for the same salary as the manager, who had been there years before me. He somehow found out the salary I managed to negotiate for and from very early on, he had it out for me – trying always to sabotage my efforts or just make it difficult for me.

  5. Beverly

    I think it is a rare thing when ownership or management has a close knit relationship. It is too easy for lower level employees to feel a sense of mistrust and this can cause a rift which can prevent productivity. I will always remember that a mentor once told me that the most common reason for failure in the office place is a lack of communication. I guess trust has a lot to do with such a rift.

  6. Scottie

    I think it is important for people in the work place to get along. After all, if you have a full time job, the office is where you are going to be spending most of your time. With the challenges that employees face in trying to do their jobs as efficiently as possible, the last thing you need are distractions that can hinder your efficiency and make your time in the office unpleasant.

  7. Scottie

    Earning someone’s trust is the most difficult thing to do and the easiest thing to lose isn’t it? This was a great article to help out those managers and bosses who really care about the employees but what about just the normal relationship in today’s society where trust is hard to come by because everyone is out for themselves only?

  8. Kevin

    This is a very good blog and I hope that a lot of managers out there that I have had in the past will read it and get the gist of the story here. As a manager yes you have certain responsibilities to uphold but your relationship with your employees is very important and should be seen as such. With out them what would you have to manage?

  9. Thu

    I think it is important for a person who holds a managerial position to not be a bully, but rather, to earn the trust of employees. If you want the support and cooperation of your subordinates, you need to show them that you support them and are willing to help them when needed. If you help your subordinates improve at their positions, they will help you do the same. So work out your differences with communication.

  10. Rodney

    Not everyone is ready or willing to step to the forefront and accept the responsibilities of leadership. But it is interesting that most people are all too willing to follow the person who does step forward and embodies the role of a leader. I am often surprised by how subservient persons are to the person who in a critical situation, for instance, takes control and starts to give orders.

  11. Marlene

    The leader’s role is to guide the human potential of the organization’s stakeholders to achieve organizational aspirations in ways that liberate rather constrain their imaginations and judgment. Ethical leadership begins with the way leaders perceive and conceptualize the world around them. Ethical leadership, organizational ethics, and social responsibility are inseparable concepts. Ethical leadership must, then, be effective, efficient, and excellent if it is not to waste human potential.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *