What's the most important thing a leader can have? A vision for the company? Previous leadership experience? The ability to delegate? Those qualities are important, but they won't get you anywhere if you don't have your team's trust.
"We won't follow leaders if we mistrust what they do," said Frank Sonnenberg, author of "Follow Your Conscience"(Amazon Digital Services, 2014). "Some people believe that because they're rich, powerful or famous, they deserve our trust and respect. Actually, nothing can be further from the truth. Trust and credibility must be earned."
Establishing yourself as a trustworthy, credible leader can't be done overnight, Sonnenberg said. It takes time, and isn't guaranteed by virtue of your position or authority. Building trust needs to begin with your actions. [5 Simple Ways to Become a Better Leader]
"Great leaders motivate people with personal charisma, expertise, integrity and respect," Sonnenberg told Business News Daily. "For example, you might be very smart, but you don't give the appearance of being a know-it-all. You have high ethical values and are true to your beliefs. You give to others because you want to, not because you expect anything in return."
Sometimes, gaining your employees' trust can be a little more difficult. A previous boss may have left your team feeling cynical, or perhaps you made a poor decision in the past that negatively impacted employees. If this is the case, the first step to rebuilding your good standing is to acknowledge the issue.
"Although trust may take a long time to develop, it can be lost through a single action," Sonnenberg said. "Once lost, it can be very difficult to re-establish.The only way [to do this] is to begin the healing process by accepting responsibility for your actions and begin earning back trust again every day."
Most important, leaders must remain humble and remember that no matter how long they've been in an industry or how many leadership positions they've held, no one automatically commands respect.
"It doesn't matter whether you're young or old, rich or poor, work on the top floor or down in the basement — everyone earns trust and respect the same way," Sonnenberg said. "You can't require or demand it. You can't cut deals or take shortcuts. You can't buy respect or even put a price tag on it. Trust and credibility are priceless."