The 4 C's of Creating Trust

Jan 11, 2023

Let me ask you a question. Do the people you lead trust you? Do you trust your own leader?

Creating trust as a leader is paramount and vital to your success and legacy. Afterall, perception is reality. Trust matters in any human interaction, be it personal or professional. Simply put, if you do not trust someone, you likely won’t do business with them. As a leader, one of the most vital signs of a healthy climate is trust. When your people trust you, they will go deeper and be more committed to their work.

In establishing trust, I believe there are 4 pillars that when combined create a truly dynamic organization. I call these "The 4 C’s of Creating Trust". They include: commitment, caring, consistency, and competence. While most leaders show abilities in one or more of these, understanding what each means in building trust and how to practice each will advance you as a leader who is trustworthy. Let’s take a deeper look at how to implement each one:

  •  Commitment: Leaders deemed trustworthy work daily to set and complete goals and organizational objectives. They are true to their word and embody the traditional phrase: “A man’s (or woman’s) word is his (or her) honor”. When you honor your commitments, people have faith you will do it again in the future. You build deposits in the emotional bank account with others and people feel they can rely on you. Further, they trust they can come to you with new ideas and suggestions, because it creates a sense of psychological safety and security. Commitment is above all, honoring your word. If you make a promise, you must keep it.
  •  Caring: People who trust their leaders have a high sense that they truly care about them. They show sincere concern for each of them as individuals and for the well-being of the overall organization they lead. They ensure that the people they lead have the equipment, training, skills, and compensation required for them to lead successful lives outside of work. Remember, no one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.
  •  Consistency: Being viewed as fair-minded, steady at the helm, and accountable are key components of establishing consistency as a leader. Showing up the same way, day-in and day-out, demonstrates to your people that you are reliable. Your consistency serves as a role model by holding yourself and others to the same standards of accountability. This in turn motivates your people to work harder and exceed performance goals.
  • Competence: Leaders who are trusted by their followers are above all, competent. Competence is defined as possessing the necessary skills, abilities, and know-how to perform the job duties effectively. People admire competent leaders. However, just as the other three cannot successfully create trust alone, competent leaders earn their reputation by how they show their competence. Uncaring leaders can be competent, but find it difficult to establish trust, because their people don’t think they care. Doing your job well is certainly a key part of establishing a reputation of competence.

Trustworthy leaders have learned to combine these 4 characteristics into the appropriate formula for their leadership style and organization. While they may be more effective in one of these over another, they practice each element every day in each interaction they have with the people they lead, other colleagues, and with whom they all interact. Trust is so important as a successful person. Whether It’s establishing trust with your spouse, children, family, or coworkers, those who learn how to master these 4 C’s will become successful.

So my leadership challenge to you is to look in the mirror and honestly reflect on which of these 4 C's you are performing well in… and which could use some work. Be honest! Then ask a trusted confidant or mentor who you believe has mastered one of these areas to offer some tips on how to practice being better. Then practice, practice, practice! There is no doubt that in being intentional about your own development in these areas, you will be on the road to becoming a trustworthy leader!

- Dean

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