Essential Leadership Skills: Influence from trust and respect

Essential Leadership Skills: Leaders rely on trust and respect to wield influence  · 

Building trust between everyone you are working with is essential for every leader. This includes your colleagues, your manager and his peers, the higher management and especially the customers, if you are in contact with them. Without trust you won’t have much influence on anyone around you, and you can’t make much of an impact, no matter how hard you work. Trust is the capital for your influence, and the more people trust you, the more credibility you have in their eyes, and the more they will let you influence them. This is especially true if you don’t hold any formal authority or title over the people you are trying to influence to doing something: They will follow you only because they trust and respect you as a person, not because they have to.

A few simple ways for building trust and a reputation of being very trustworthy and dependable person.

Trust, respect and influence flow always in two directions in personal relationships: The most simple way to build trust, respect and influence between you and other person(s), is to first let them experience these from your own side: If you show that you trust, you will be trusted back, and if you show respect, you will be respected back. Same goes for the influence, if you want to wield it, you have to let other people to feel that they can also influence you.

Show that you care: Just showing people that you care about them, their work, needs, results and problems will do wonders for your trust and influence. You don’t even have to solve their problems for them. Just ask what they have in their mind, and offer to help, if they need it. Many times, they will pass the offer, but will remember it for a long time. Another easy way to show that you care, is to acknowledge any good work that they have done. Just basic “good work!” is enough, when it is said when really warranted. This is simple, but extremely effective.

Always do what you promise: This is a very basic principle of being dependable and trustworthy. When you promise only things that you can keep, everyone around you can count on you. Your word should be like a written contract. Sometimes this also means that you have to say “no” to things that you know aren’t possible, no matter who asks for them. An honest estimation and rejection of an idea or task is much better than dishonest approval, and then later coming up with failed attempts or excuses. When people know they can trust you and you will give an honest opinion and estimate the situations properly according to the circumstances and constraints, they will seek for your advice on critical decisions and tough challenges. Just be sure that you first really listen to understand and then consider the situation thoroughly and with an open mind before saying anything.

Be precise on promises and make sure that you are completely understood: If you are not sure about something, don’t try to hide that into half-truths or vague promises. Just tell that you are not sure at this moment and will need a bit time to do the research and then come up with a proper answer. Giving false hope is not better than giving promises you cannot keep.

Speak the truth and ask for help when you need it: Don’t try to hide that you don’t have all the answers, but ask for help when you really need it. Do this especially, if you are in a new job, or in a new team. No one expects you to know everything, and it looks just suspicious if you never ask for any help. Just make sure that you aren’t making yourself an annoyance, by constantly asking questions that you could solve by yourself with a few minutes of research or studying.

Be punctual: Be always on time to start and end agreed meetings or other engagements. Punctuality is, in the end, just a constant habit of keeping your promises. When you are punctual, you can also expect this from other people attending to your meetings. This also speaks about your respect towards others, and builds also their respect towards you: When you respect their time by being punctual, they are inclined to do the same for you. This respect is easily transcends to everything else you do together.

Give credit and bear responsibility: Always give credit to people who deserve it, and never try to steal it. Always bear the responsibility of your actions, and the actions of your team, especially when you have failed in something.

Leadership & Career Blog

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