This article is part of my Global Leadership series; Insights from more than a decade of leadership training around the world…
Effective leadership is built on trust. But trust is not built on a feeling; trust is built on a solid foundation.
This principle was driven home to me during a series of meetings I held with the government of Cuba. This was in response to a group of pastors and community leaders who had invited our organization, The Global Leadership Network, to come to Cuba to help them set up our leadership development programs.
In order for any organization based in the United States to operate in Cuba, it required the authority of the Cuban government, and this necessitated a series of meetings, which took place over the course of almost a full year.
Ultimately, the issue came down to one of trust. The government supported initiatives that would provide training and development for the people of Cuba. But they didn’t know me. They didn’t know our organization. In order to establish the kind of trust that would enable us to move forward, I needed to lean on 3 foundations on which such trust is built.
And these foundations can help you build trust in your leadership too…
1. Trust is built on understanding
“Many organizations from the U.S., and elsewhere, try to come into Cuba,” I was told. “And in some cases, these organizations do so in a way that causes embarrassment or criticism of the Cuban government. How do we know you will not do the same?”
You can’t build trust unless and until you understand the perspectives of the other person.
2. Trust is built on action
Giving my personal assurances was a good start, but it was not enough. “We will allow you to review all of our materials,” I assured them, “And of course we will invite you to send representatives of the government to attend our leadership conference.”
Trust is built on what you do, not just on what you say.
3. Trust is built over time
Our first event in Cuba demonstrated that we could be trusted on that occasion, but could we be trusted over time? That would require repeated demonstrations of trustworthiness. Over time we were permitted to add more and more training events across Cuba, and each time, our measure of trustworthiness continued to be built.
Building trust is an ongoing, never-ending process.
To grow in your influence, you must grow the foundation of your trustworthiness. So start building your foundation.
Because trust is build on a foundation, not on a feeling.