learning & change

Trust and Credibility

Trust and credibility are crucial in leadership for building successful relationships, teams, and organisations. Understanding these fundamental elements, as defined by thought leaders such as Stephen M.R. Covey, Brené Brown, Kouzes and Posner, and Marshall Goldsmith, is essential for any leader aiming to create a positive and productive environment.


Trust can be described as a solid belief in an individual’s dependability, truth, or capability. It involves integrity, dependability, and uniformity in actions and decisions. Credibility, on the other hand, is the quality of being relied on and believed in. It is established through demonstrating competence, dependability, and honesty over time.


Building Trust

Here are some practices leaders can apply to build trust and credibility.


Act with Integrity:

Acting with integrity means consistently aligning actions with values and commitments. Leaders who do what they say they will do and uphold ethical standards build a reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.

  • Consistently align actions with values and commitments: Ensure that decisions and actions consistently reflect your values and ethical standards. Leaders who demonstrate integrity build a reputation for trustworthiness and reliability.
  • Be transparent and honest in all communications: Transparency fosters trust by ensuring that information is shared openly and honestly. Honest communication, even when delivering difficult messages, strengthens trust and credibility.
  • Uphold ethical standards and hold others accountable: Establish clear guidelines and policies and sanction violations accordingly. Holding oneself and others accountable for ethical behaviour reinforces a culture of trust and integrity.


Grow Connection:

Building trust requires open communication, active listening, empathy, and a willingness to extend trust to others. This approach fosters genuine relationships and encourages collaboration and innovation.

  • Open communication channels: Create an open environment where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas, concerns, and feedback. Open communication builds trust by promoting transparency and inclusivity.
  • Practice active listening and empathy: Actively listen to others without judgment and demonstrate empathy for their perspectives and feelings. Genuine empathy builds rapport and trust, showing others that their opinions and emotions are valued.
  • Extend trust to others: Delegate responsibilities and decision-making authority appropriately, demonstrating confidence in team members’ capabilities. Trusting others encourages autonomy and empowerment, fostering a positive and collaborative work environment.


Model Consistency:

Leaders who demonstrate reliability and predictability in their actions reinforce their credibility and build trust over time.

  • Establish clear expectations and guidelines: Define roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations to avoid misunderstandings and promote consistency. Clarity in expectations helps team members understand what is expected of them, enhancing trust and accountability.
  • Demonstrate reliability in decision-making: Base decisions on consistent principles and fair processes. Consistent decision-making builds trust by demonstrating predictability and fairness.
  • Be predictable in behaviour and responses: Maintain consistency in behaviour, reactions, and responses to various situations. Predictability in leadership fosters a sense of stability and reliability among team members, enhancing trust and confidence.


Build Capability:

Leaders who continually enhance their skills and knowledge inspire confidence in their ability to lead effectively and navigate challenges.

  • Invest in continuous learning and development: Commit to ongoing personal and professional growth through training, workshops, and learning opportunities. Leaders who continually improve their skills and knowledge inspire confidence in their ability to lead effectively.
  • Seek feedback and actively apply it: Solicit feedback from peers, mentors, and team members to gain insights into strengths and areas for improvement. Actively applying feedback demonstrates a willingness to grow and adapt, fostering trust and respect.
  • Mentor and coach others to enhance their skills: Identify and develop the strengths of team members through mentoring and coaching. Supporting others in their professional growth cultivates a culture of learning and trust within the team.


Deliver Results:

Trust is ultimately solidified through consistent, high-quality results. Leaders who achieve objectives and produce meaningful outcomes build a track record of success that enhances their credibility and inspires trust in their leadership capabilities.

  • Set ambitious yet achievable goals: Collaborate with team members to set clear, challenging goals that align with organisational objectives. Ambitious goals inspire motivation and commitment, while achievable milestones build momentum and trust.
  • Monitor progress and adjust strategies as needed: Regularly assess performance metrics, adjust strategies to overcome challenges, and capitalise on opportunities. Adaptive leadership demonstrates responsiveness and commitment to achieving results.
  • Communicate achievements and outcomes effectively: Share successes and outcomes with stakeholders and team members transparently. Effective communication of achievements reinforces credibility and celebrates collective efforts, fostering trust and collaboration.


Challenges and Solutions

Despite the clear benefits of building trust and credibility with others, there are many challenges to navigate:

  • Building trust in a distrustful organisation can be tricky due to past issues that cast a shadow. Leaders can rebuild trust by being transparent, sharing information openly, and consistently acting with integrity. Holding yourself and others accountable also shows reliability, gradually restoring confidence in leadership.
  • Balancing transparency and confidentiality can be complex. Clear communication about what can and cannot be shared helps maintain trust. Defining roles and goals clearly reduces misunderstandings, aligns everyone’s expectations, and boosts trust and confidence.
  • Addressing personal biases means leaders should be aware of their own biases, seek feedback, and value diverse perspectives. This openness fosters trust by ensuring fairness and respect for different viewpoints, creating a supportive environment where trust can thrive.


Trust is not built overnight but grows steadily through sustained effort and genuine engagement with others. Leaders who consistently demonstrate these principles strengthen their credibility and inspire others to contribute their best to shared goals and aspirations.

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash








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