Chapter 12. Why leadership is based on trust

I have had more than a dozen managers. Many were forgettable and some were awful. But those I admired took time to earn my trust. They wanted my best work, and they knew this was possible only if I could rely on them on a daily basis. This didn’t mean they’d do whatever I asked or yield to my opinions by default, but it did mean that their behavior was predictable. More often than not they were up front with me about their commitments, motivations, and expectations. I knew where I stood, what my and their roles were, and how much support was available from them for what I needed to do.

As a leader on a team, everything depends on what assumptions people can make of you. When you say “I will get this done by tomorrow” or “I will talk to Sally and get her to agree with this,” others will make silent calculations about the probability that what you say will be true. Over time, if you serve your team well, those odds should be very high. They will take you at your word and place their trust in you.

Although movies portray leadership as a high-drama activity—with heroes running into burning buildings or bravely fighting alone against hordes of enemies—real leadership is about very simple, practical things. Do what you say and say what you mean. Admit when you’re wrong. Enlist the opinions and ideas of others in decisions that impact them. If you can do these things more often than not, you will earn the trust of the people ...

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