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.
    • 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 competent.  Stay aware of what is happening, know what is on the horizon and be able to communicate your views.  If you can’t do these things then surround yourself with people who do.
    • Connect with residents.  Connect with your owners by listening and being aware of their diverse opinions.
    • 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.”

2 responses to “Trust is the Basis of All
  1. I have a slightly different opinion related to trust. I believe that trust is a reflection of confidence in a certain behavior or outcome. I can trust that a Board Member will do good things or display compassion etc but I can also trust that he / she will do bad things too. However I do agree that trust has to be earned. It is earned by learning to expect a certain behavior or outcome by observation. I also believe that trust is more granular than indicated in the article. I can trust in one behavior but not in another, in one expected outcome, but not in another. Keith
  2. Loura hit the nail on the head. Many directors (and managers) suffer from the dysfunction of not caring whether the owners trust them or not. They rule with a heavy hand, and, in those cases, trust does not even enter into the equation. “Because I’m the mommy, that’s why,” seems to be their M.O. In other words, we really do NOT care if you like it or not, we will do as we please. In fact, some directors will listen to a request from an owner or owners, and then do exactly the opposite, just to prove who is in charge, or to demonstrate to the owners that the board need not even consider what they want. Of course, this would not be the case if the directors had checked their egos at the door. So yes, this is the last, or ultimate, characteristic which good board members and manager should possess.
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