The Trusted Leader
People follow leaders they trust. Leaders who are authentic. Leaders they can believe in personally as
well as professionally. We all have had bosses that we did not trust personally. You can probably think of
someone that you never trusted who was your boss or another leader in your business that you had to
get on with. So, you like many of us held back. You did just enough but no more. You held back any
discretionary effort you could have given. You chose just to do your job. All motivation is intrinsic self-
motivation. Your leader must instill a desire in you to go the extra mile. Productivity is directly linked to
What is Trust?
Trust is a relationship based on listening conversations. The kind of listening that makes the speaker feel
that they matter. That someone really cares. It is an affirmation of another person’s existence and
importance. “You see me, therefore I am”.
Trust is about predictability. People feel safer when their leaders’ behavior is predictable. They know
where they stand. They can then assess their situation and decide what to do in their own best interests.
The brain craves certainty. It is wired to move towards reward and away from danger. It’s survival in the
modern world depends on its ability to influence its peers in it’s social in-group. And if you are working
for an organisation where you don’t trust your leaders you will be less able to influence them because of
a lack of intimacy. You are unlikely to have their ear. Your social brain will feel isolated and vulnerable,
The Radius of Trust
Common characteristics of trust
Trust involves taking a risk. Trust involves giving someone the benefit of the doubt. It involves emotion
and logic. Trust is hard to build and easy to destroy. It is invisible but you know it is there. Trust is about
character, judgement and intuition.
A leader is an agent of trust. Trusted leaders are trusted because they choose to care about their
people. Trusted leaders are trusted because they have a sense of purpose and give their followers
meaning to their work. Trusted leaders are trusted because they are driven by their values. Who they
are defines what they do. They have the trust factor.
The equation, per Charles H Green, co-author of the “The Trusted Advisor”, for building trust is:
Trust = (Credibility x Reliability x Intimacy) / Self-Orientation
Trusted leaders are personally credible; do what they say they will do and have close relationships with
So Hilary Clinton scores low on reliability because of her e-mail private server issue and whatever
Donald Trump’s attributes are as a leader they are diluted by his high self-orientation. Some would also
question his credibility due to his lack of experience in politics.
By the time you read this the American voters will have made up their mind.
Using the following Parallel Mind TRUST model how would you rate the candidates for USA President for being:
Trusted leadership habits
Three leadership habits inspire trust:
Integrity means the outside reflects the inside, two halves of the same whole. Choosing to be honest,
Open and humble.
Benevolence means being generous and kind.
Humility means being freed from self-importance.
Level 5 leaders have according to Jim Collins, who wrote the seminal book on sustainable organisations
“Good to Great”, a paradoxical combination of “intense professional will and personal humility”.
Characteristics of trustworthiness
Trustworthiness has three essential characteristics namely:
Trusted leaders are more interested in helping others than looking good. They choose to care and
their sincere desire to help others means they will go out of their way to deliver value. They make
themselves accountable. They listen to others not to themselves. Love, it turns out is the killer app for
the trusted leader.
Conversations build trust
Trusted leaders lead at the speed of trust one conversation at a time. They use a coaching style of
leadership to develop their people. They build a narrative using compelling stories that their followers
want to be part of. Trusted leaders are great listeners, who put themselves in the shoes of their
They ask great questions.
The three elements of effective communication are:
- Desire to help
- Desire to know
- Desire to be truthful
“I have no great skills, I am only passionately curious”. Albert Einstein
Trust drives Change
Organisations change one person at a time. People can deal with change but people don’t like
to be changed. Trusted leaders coach their people through change one coaching conversation
at a time. They use the power of empathy to build the rapport necessary for a trustful
Conversations are powered by trust
Trusted leaders hold the space in the coaching conversations they have with their followers by
being truly present. Presence is a rare gift. People just want to be witnessed. They want to
share their story with someone they trust who they believe cares about them. They want to be
fully heard and fully understood. They want to feel appreciated.
Trusted leaders have the courage to say the unsayable. To talk about the elephant in the room.
To have the difficult conversations that remove the roadblocks to progress.
The power of presence
Trusted leaders understand the power of presence. They recognize the luminous simplicity of the mind
in the freshness of the present moment. The mind freed from the weight of memories and the
preoccupation with the future. They are truly present in the coaching conversations with their followers.
And their followers feel their presence. There is an emotional connection. By listening with a still and
concentrated mind the trusted leader is tuned into what the words are saying. Communication becomes
a transfer of emotions. Listening is a mindful art.
Trust is the glue of fractal organisations
I founded my coaching consultancy The Parallel Mind in 2002. Today fourteen years later we are six like
minded people who all share a passion for coaching. We are driven by our desire to be the best we can
be for our clients. And an insatiable curiosity that has taken us on a journey of discovery and to the writing and editing of this book.
We are a fractal organisation held together by the glue of trust and powered by friendship.
There are no employment contracts; no hierarchy; no authority. We all act in the service of personal
growth of our clients and ourselves. Trust is the lifeblood of our organisation.
Trust is the essence of Leadership
Trustworthiness defines leadership. Trusted leaders transform their organisations at the speed of trust.
Trusted leaders power their organisations with trust. They build trust every day with their
followers, one conversation at a time. Trust has become the agenda for tomorrow’s company.
“Leadership today is all about two words. And those two words are truth and trust”. Jack Welch 2012
Trusted Leader Checklist
Are you honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses?
Are you prepared to show your vulnerabilities?
Are you aware of your emotional mood in the moment?
Do you pick up the emotional state of others when you are with them?
Are you aware of your behaviours and their impact on others?
Do you listen deeply beyond the words to their emotional messages?
Do you feedback regularly and praise people for their contributions?
Do you demonstrate empathic concern to your people?
Are you compassionate when your followers are in a personal crisis?
Do you do the right thing when it is far easier to do the popular thing?
For every box, you ticked honestly, you scored 10% towards being a trusted leader! If you
ticked all the ten boxes you are 100% trusted as a leader!
If you want a reality check however, ask the people who work closely with you to complete the
Remember their perception is your reality. Mind the gap!
© 2016 The Parallel Mind Ltd