Trust is an essential piece of leadership.

It plays a vital role in holding relationships and connections together.

“Trust is the glue of life,” as Stephen Covey would say.

Just as glue binds things together, trust binds individuals and teams.

Trust is a fundamental foundation for effective communication, cooperation, and the overall functioning of relationships.

Without trust, relationships can become fragile and easily broken, while with trust, they become stronger and more resilient.

Those who defy this principle are like the young lad in the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

For those unfamiliar with the old fable, let me give you a quick summary:

A young shepherd repeatedly raises a false alarm about a wolf attacking his sheep, causing the villagers to rush to his aid.

After multiple false alarms, when a real wolf finally appears and threatens the flock, the villagers no longer believe the boy’s cries for help, and the wolf devours the sheep.

The villagers lost trust in the young boy.

No one will follow someone they can’t trust.

For that reason, it is important for leaders to build trust with those who follow them.

While there are numerous ways for a leader to build that foundation of trust, I would like to highlight 3 specific ways:

1. Show Empathy to Others

I was working on a big project when my father-in-law was scheduled for major surgery.

My family and I packed our bags and drove over 1,300 km (or more than 800 miles) to be with him and show our support.

His surgery was a success.

Despite the victory, a complication caused him to pass away a few days later.

It was devastating.

I did everything in my power to help those I loved feel comfort during this time of loss.

It was at this point one of the people overseeing the project called for an update.

After informing them of our loss, they proceeded to ask for an update on the project.

I was mortified.

When I reached out to others involved in the project, I was given a more empathetic response.

I was told to focus on my family, and when I was ready I could resume work on the project.

Between the two, who did I feel I could trust more?

The one who put themselves in my shoes and showed compassion.

Empathy is key to building trust.

2. Have Integrity

I feel incredibly blessed to have people in my life who walk the talk.

If they say they are going to do something, they do it.

There is no guesswork with where they stand.

This is quite different from the stereotyped politician we are constantly hearing about.

They make all types of promises on the campaign trail, and yet when the next election rolls around, they spend more time arguing against their opponents than talking about what they were able to accomplish while in office.

Sadly, this has led to disinterest in politics by a large segment of the population.

Despite those who are able to serve their constituents ethically and morally, many people become discouraged and apathetic due to the broken promises of those who came before.

For this reason, as a leader, we must pursue an honest and ethical approach.

If others see our words and actions align, they will be able to trust.

3. Be Transparent

I was the Director of Technical Administration.

Some shenanigans had been going on, and we had reached the point where the future was uncertain.

My boss informed me that we may have had a rogue among us who was trying to destroy what we had built over the past couple of years.

We would need to try and rebuild, and rebuild quickly, or it would all be lost.

We would lose our clients and tarnish our reputation within the community.

We had a cause, and I dedicated myself to long hours and no pay for several months.

It was a sacrifice I was willing to make in order to reach our goal.

In the end, the best my boss could hope for was to sell our client base to another company and have me transition to the new employer.

If my boss had left me in the dark and hadn’t been so transparent, the transition would have never taken place.

I wouldn’t have worked my tail off for someone I didn’t trust.

I wouldn’t have worked those months without pay if I didn’t trust him.

Transparency is a cornerstone in building trust among others.


Leadership is built on relationships.

If relationships are fragile due to apathy, hidden agendas, and a total lack of integrity; there is also a lack of good leadership and a lack of trust.

If relationships are strong due to empathy, integrity, and transparency; there is stronger leadership due to trust.

You now know the core ingredients to make “the glue of life”.

Be trustworthy, and you will be worthy to lead.

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