When trust is gone, authentic leadership is gone. There is nothing worse than individuals on your team, or in your family, telling you that they don’t trust you anymore. This is hard to bounce back from; and, in some cases, you never bounce back.

Trust is like money in the bank that you can withdraw when necessary. Many of us have been burned in prior relationships–in family, business or church–and are reluctant to trust and, therefore, it can take time to establish trust and even longer to rebuild trust.

Trust is critically foundational to a team or a family. You don’t demand trust, you earn it, and you earn it more by your character than your competence. More leaders lose trust over character issues than competency issues.

How Does A Leader Develop Trust?

Here are five suggestions:

1. Keep Your Promises – Don’t say things you really don’t mean. If you tell somebody you’re going to call them, then call them. If you tell someone you will have something for him or her on Friday, then have it for him or her on Friday. Be good for your word. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

2. Genuinely Care For Those You Are Privileged To Lead – People are more interested in how much you care than how much you know. Some leaders think they are leaders because of how smart they are. It just ain’t so.  I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that it is genuine love and concern for people that matters most to them, not the breadth of the knowledge we possess (or think we possess.) This is especially true for the 20-30 year olds that we should be grooming for future leadership. Because of their experience, 20-30 year olds want to know that you really care about them and will be there for them. 

3. Have Clear, Frequent, Consistent And Thorough Communication – Make sure you include everybody who needs to know. Especially, don’t hide communication to make yourself look better or appear that you are right and others are wrong. In most situations, it’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate. Hiding or covering up vital information breeds suspicion and skepticism which can deal a deathblow to trust.

4. Be A Life-Long Learner By Asking Questions And Soliciting Input Before Making Critical Decisions – People are much more willing to carry out an idea or plan that they helped create rather than one handed to them with no attempt to solicit input and opinions. Work at becoming a collaborative decision-maker rather than a unilateral decision-maker.

5. Confess And Repent When You Are In The Wrong – Don’t make excuses and place blame. The world of politics, business and (sad to say) even the church is strewn with fallen leaders who didn’t own their sin and went to jail or their graves proclaiming their innocence which few ever believed. Demonstrate the reality of the Gospel in your life by practicing heartfelt confession and repentance. Make it personal when it is called for–not a general “I’m sorry” from the pulpit.