The Key Factor in Transformational Leadership

Last week the blog looked at how important trust is for organisations and teams. This week I want to zoom in to a key factor in generating trust. Trust in leadership is at an all time low. It may be that trust is higher in business leaders than in government leaders, it is still not anything to be happy about. How can leaders generate more trust and be seen as trustworthy?

“Trust grows when our motives are straightforward and based on mutual benefit – in other words, when we genuinely care not only for ourselves, but also for the people we interact with, lead or serve.” Stephen M. R. Covey

Trustworthy leadership will be more effective and influential in their leadership. Just doing the things you said you would do, carrying out your competencies as a leader will earn you the label of dependable, reliable, easy to work with, all good things but not yet at the level those coming into the marketplace would deem trustworthy. For the UK, which seems to be on a distrust spiral, it is more important than ever that leaders are trustworthy.

I came across this statement in a Harvard Business Review (June 2021) article recently:

“The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that government, NGOs, and media have continued to lose trust while business barely hangs on as the only institution people view as competent and ethical. People’s expectations and definition of trustworthiness are broadening for leaders, and it takes a lot to gain that trust.” Ron Carucci

What can you  do as a leader to engender trust with those you lead?

5 Factors Which Increase Your Trustworthiness

1. Values – when your values align with your behaviour then people’s trust in you will grow. You must embody your values. For this to happen those you lead need to know what your values are. Let them know what you value. It can be difficult to prove you are open to new ideas if, when someone who reports to you brings something you don’t like, you cut them off or pour cold water on it.

2. Mistakes – you will mess up as a leader. The question, as you have seen with the leadership in government, is what you will do when it happens. The tendency is to become defensive and look to justify what happened. The evidence suggests that taking responsibility for what happened, admitting your mistake, apologising to those you may have offended has the effect of building not eroding trust.

3. Celebrate Others – put others in the spotlight. Last week humility was one of the factors around trust. Recognising the work of those in your team or organisation is a great way to promote them and at the same time will be positive for your leadership. Invite others to the leadership table; invest in others you can see have the potential for leadership.

4. Create Safety – in many culture there is a good deal of shame associated with failure. Those you lead need to know that whilst there is accountability you are committed to helping those who fall short to get back on track. In situations where the team is experimenting with new products, services or processes ensure that there isn’t blame attached to failure but instead a curiosity about what can be learnt.

5. Invite Dissent – when you trust others and build trust your meetings can be taken to a new level. When you invite dissent, contrary opinions, and ideas, you open up the room for creativity and innovation. It means those around the table can be heard and you can passionately discuss the issues without any whiff of personal comment. This can be done anonymously in meetings by using written down ideas and picking one or two to focus on. Some of the best ideas come out of such forums.

In your leadership decide, as Brené Brown puts it, to be brave and courageous. The returns are definitely worth it.

If you would like to discuss how you can build your trustworthiness, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me on

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

Scroll to Top