Abraham Lincoln may have understood trust and community better than anyone in our nation’s history. He knew that maintaining trust meant having the people’s confidence… and with confidence you can lead. I can’t imagine having to make the kind of decisions that he did, but I can imagine how important maintaining the people’s trust must have been through that period in history. Every leader must have their community’s trust to be effective.
“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.”
Building and maintaining trust stems from two elements, transparency and action, one without the other will not work, but together they have proven to be a winning combination for instilling the necessary confidence to effectively lead.
“Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe”
Leadership means making decisions that aren’t always popular, and sometimes making mistakes, but always being honest about the facts. All great leaders seem to understand this and go out of their way to provide as much information to their communities as possible.
Decision-making cannot happen in a bubble. Leaders have to have the vision and confidence to share information, both good and bad, and present it in a way that followers appreciate. Making changes and enacting policy just because you can often leaves you leading a lifeless community and looking for a new job.
“I determined to be so clear that no honest man could misunderstand me and no dishonest one could successfully misrepresent me.”
Delivering on Promises
Spend time letting your followers learn that you are firm, resolute, and committed in the daily performance of your duty. Doing so will gain their respect and trust.
The other component necessary in building trust is delivering on what you say you’re going to. We all have a tendency to talk about a better tomorrow and some even have compelling ideas that excite others, however to build trust and respect within a community requires ACTION. Over time simple progress towards a goal creates trust and respect from your community. Saying you’re going to do something and never quite following through eventually leads to a loss of momentum in your community and your project. By making steady progress towards a goal and communicating your intentions, you invite constant feedback and analysis of your plan. In a world that changes as fast as this one, steady action combined with community input leads to great things.