There is one question I hear repeatedly when I address corporate audiences: "How can I lead when my boss is a jerk and I don't trust him/her?" The answer I give to audiences may not be popular, but it is truthful.
Trust starts with YOU.
Yes, trust is the foundation of leadership. Yes, trust is essential in business. And, trust starts with you!
Stephen M.R. Covey outlines 5 different layers of trust in his book "The Speed of Trust." The first most critical layer is Self Trust: The principle of Credibility. Covey breaks down the area of Self Trust into 4 categories. The first two are Integrity and Intent (Character based) and the second two are Capabilities and Results (Competency based).
I would like to address the area of Integrity. In my book, "The Connected and Committed Leader"Leadership insight #6 deals with Trust building through consistency, clarity and integrity. Oftentimes, people assume that integrity means honesty, but in reality integrity is about congruency. Personal congruency. Do you walk the talk? Do people see you as someone who consistently acts out your values or beliefs, or do you believe something and act out differently? Do you have the courage to stand up to your boss when you disagree? Do you have the passion to do the right thing even when it isn't the popular thing? Do you sell yourself out time and time again?
When you find yourself wondering why you don't trust someone, begin by looking first at yourself. Are YOU a foundation of trust? It is always easy to blame others, but if every time we thought someone else needed fixing, we tweaked ourselves instead, I believe we would have a whole lot more trust in our workplaces. Don't you?