As I look back over this series on Servant Leadership I realized that it was appropriate that I saved this characteristic for last, as I believe it is probably the most important one for a successful servant leader and is achieved by all of the other characteristics. Trust is defined by Webster’s as “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc. of a person or thing.” For those of you that have attended our educational sessions in the past you’ll remember that one of the first dysfunctions of any board is lack of trust. Trust isn’t something that is developed over night but rather it is planted, protected, and cultivated over many years and countless interactions.
I bet if you asked the owners in your community if they “trusted” you, you would get a range of answers from absolutely not, to sort of, to sometimes, to sure. You don’t get trust just because you get elected to the board. The opposite may in fact be true. But, can you improve upon this trust? In his book, The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships and a Stronger Bottom Line, author David Horsager suggests that you can improve on trust by embracing 8 key strengths:
- Be clear. When you deliver a message be specific and direct. Don’t be ambiguous or hesitant.
- Be compassionate. Show you care beyond just yourself.
- Do what is right. Don’t always just do what is easy.
- Show results. People need to see outcomes. If you accomplish things people believe.
- Be committed. Stand strong through adversity and sacrifice for the greater good.
- Show consistency. The little things done consistently and first make all the difference and build the community you want.
Thank you for reading this series. I hope that you have grown from some of the ideas and suggestions. I’d love to hear your success stories and as my colleague Terry Leahy says in his article on this topic, The Grass Is (Finally) Greener, “So I know this stuff works to build community among blades of grass. But you tell me whether it works among a diverse group of owners, so that others might learn from your success.”