Four Leader Behaviors that Build—or Bust, Trust!

bigstock-hands-passing-the-batton-again-28459616In a new article for Fast Company, columnists Scott Blanchard and Ken Blanchard take a look at why some companies are successful in implementing change while others struggle.

They also look at why some leaders inspire people to work together effectively, while others cannot.

The pivotal ingredient in both cases?  Trust

Drawing from Ken Blanchard’s latest and brand new book, Trust Works! Four Keys to Building Lasting Relationships (co-authored with Cynthia Olmstead and Martha Lawrence) Blanchard identifies four components that either build—or bust—trust with people.

The four attributes are:

  • Able—does the leader Demonstrate Competence
  • Believable—does the leader Act with Integrity
  • Connected—does the leader Care about Others
  • Dependable—does the leader Maintain Reliability

Blanchard identifies that, “The ability to build trust is a defining competency,” and he recommends that leaders take a two-step approach to evaluating their trustworthiness—beginning  with a self assessment.  To make this easier, Blanchard provides a link to a free online tool

The self-assessment gives leaders a chance to see if their actions might be contributing to low-trust relationships through behaviors that are seen as less than Able, Believable, Connected, and Dependable.”

Second, Blanchard recommends that leaders ask colleagues and direct reports to evaluate their behavior as well.

“What you learn about yourself can be eye-opening,” says Blanchard. “Many of us are unaware when our behavior is eroding the trust of others around us. What seems like acceptable behavior to us may be causing a friend, spouse, boss, employee, or significant other to feel downright wary.”

As a case in point, Blanchard shares a story about his own experience using the assessment and how he discovered that his staff scored him low on being Dependable.

While Blanchard knew he had trouble saying “no” to requests and liked to say yes to others as much as possible, he didn’t realize it was a problem until he learned that, because he said “yes” to so many things and overcommitted himself, he was sometimes regarded as undependable.

Using the assessment and the Able, Believable, Connected, and Dependable framework, Blanchard and his team were able to discuss Ken’s “trust buster” trait. Together the team was able to develop solutions. As a result, today—in addition to being careful about not over-committing himself—when  Ken goes on trips he doesn’t take his own business cards. Instead, he gives out the cards of his executive assistant, who can make sure Ken has the time and resources to follow through before he makes commitments.

How are you doing on trust?  Are your behaviors consistent with your intentions?  To read more about Ken and Scott Blanchard’s thinking on this topic, be sure to check out, Do Your Employees Trust You?

9 thoughts on “Four Leader Behaviors that Build—or Bust, Trust!

  1. David,
    Great article and really on point. What i like is that these four attributes can be look for at any leadership level. Also, you gave me a book to add to my reading list. Thanks.

    • Thanks Tom! Ken Blanchard’s new book is just being released today–it contains over 50 strategies that leaders at all levels can use to improve (or restore) trust if it’s been broken. It’s a great read!

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