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Building Trust…Here’s How

Written by Chuck Olson

In making his case for the priority of TRUST in life and leadership, Stephen M. R. Covey in his book The Speed of Trust, comes out swinging for the fences:

There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world—one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love. On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time. That one thing is trust.

Simply stated, in the marketplace of leadership, trust is the currency that undergirds—or undermines—the entire economy. Any defaulting or downgrading of this precious commodity will send the leadership indicators south in a heartbeat.

In the marketplace of leadership, trust is the currency that undergirds—or undermines—the entire economy.

In short, when trust is low, the cost is high. Lower productivity. Compromised excellence. Hidden agendas. One-up-man-ship. Partial disclosure. Win-lose thinking. Missed opportunities. Minimal traction. What should be straight-forward and satisfying becomes complicated and tense.

Every leader knows the tough truth of trust: while it takes months to build it up, it only takes minutes to blow it up.

Every leader knows the tough truth of trust: while it takes months to build it up, it only takes minutes to blow it up.

So what’s the answer? As a leader, how do you build a bank account of trust with those in your circle of influence?

Of all the possible answers to that question, each pales in comparison to the ultimate answer: The fastest pathway to build trust is to be remarkably reliable. A trustworthy leader is a person who has earned that trust by being relentlessly predictable.

The fastest pathway to build trust is to be remarkably reliable.

To make it personal, consider a few questions of self-inventory:

• Can you be counted on?
• Do you deliver on your promises?
• Are you the “one hit wonder” or the person who has a track record of consistency?
• Are you the person who always needs to be reminded?
• Are you proactive in notifying someone as soon as you know you can’t meet a deadline?

By the way, I would recommend that you take the Trust Equation Quiz. It will help objectify both your ‘biggest strength’ and your ‘biggest opportunity for improvement’ when it comes to trust. And if you really want to be intentional about stepping up your trustworthiness, I recommend that you ask one of your closest colleagues to take the quiz on your behalf and then discuss the outcomes together.

I leave you with the same question I ask myself: since trust is fundamental to the success of your relationships and organization, what are you presently doing to earn the reputation of being a leader who is remarkably reliable?

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  • Pattie says:

    You’ve been a steady rock to me for over 4 decades, and I can attest that you are remarkably reliable.

  • Beth says:

    There are more than a few leaders who personally have solid character but are untrustworthy as leaders because they don’t deliver. -Carey Nieuwhof

  • Bob says:

    Just do what you say you’re going to do!
    That’s such a fundamental foundational piece of leadership.

  • Pam says:

    Being reliable is one of the qualities I emphasize with our team weekly. This means following through on a commitment, this means keeping an appointment, this means doing what you say you will do. We are living in an time where this is no longer seems to be the norm and being reliable seems to not be held in high regard. Thanks for the reminder Chuck!

  • Richard says:

    Thank you for another thought-provoking write, Chuck.

  • Paul says:

    To be remarkably reliable. I really like that. Far too few leaders have this quality and seem to thrive on being just the opposite. Thanks for your reliable leadership Chuck.

  • Steve says:

    It certainly takes months/years to build up a trust lost. So grateful for a God who restores and redeems!

  • Miguel says:

    Love it! So true…

  • Gene says:

    “In short, when trust is low, the cost is high.”
    I have seen this slayed out in ministry. Without trust, a pastor is not able to take his people to a pasture that the Lord designed and desires.
    Bless you for calling this out Pastor Chuck.

  • Jo says:

    Passing this along to our church team.
    May our lives of leadership reflect a reliable trustworthiness that brings Him glory.

  • pattie says:

    You are such a reliably strong and courageous leader Chuck. One who can be counted on during times of testing and times of good, times of sorrow and times of joy.
    I am richly blessed to be taking this journey of life with you!

  • Bob says:

    In the marketplace of leadership, trust is the currency that undergirds—or undermines—the entire economy.
    Lord, grant us to be leaders who are remarkable reliable in word and deed.

  • Brad says:

    I cannot thank you enough for the consistency and commitment you have to keep feeding me and others with wisdom.
    I am grateful for these leadership cornerstones that you send my way. Keep them coming.

  • Geri says:

    So true! Hadn’t quite thought of it in this way, so thanks for the insight. “The fastest way to build trust is to be remarkably reliable.”

  • Carl says:

    Great blog Chuck.
    Going hard after Christ.

  • Don says:

    Excellent Chuck. Patrick Pensioni has talked a lot about Trust as the #1 factor in a healthy work environment or healthy relationship. Not many good things will happen if it is absent. (5 Dysfunctions of a Team)
    Also it should be the highest priority for us personally in work, home and community interactions.

  • Bill says:

    I always find truth in what you share and pass along to colleagues. May He continue to bless the work at Lead With Your Life. You are the real deal.

  • Mark says:

    I continue to be pushed in deepening my leadership base by your insights Chuck. Thank you!

  • Marie says:

    Thank you for your insights with the self-inventory questions. Very revealing and helpful as a leader who strives to be reliable. Will be passing along to our team.

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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