trust in leadership

5 Ways to Tell if a Leader Is Worth Trusting

It’s gotten to a point where I’m not even shocked anymore. An organization with a charismatic leader experiences enormous growth. Rumors and rumblings of leadership trouble behind the scenes start to come out, followed by actual allegations of bullying, sexual harassment, dominating personalities, or abuse. The leader goes down in scandal, sometimes taking the organization with him or her. And until then, the bad behavior persisted for years with people excusing it, looking the other way, or actually enabling it.

I’m not charismatic and have never been great at drawing a crowd, so I can only imagine the temptation that type of influence must bring. None of us is perfect, but there seems to be an abundance of leaders whose character doesn’t match their public persona. And yet, because of their charisma, they draw crowds and have huge platforms. So we need to teach our kids what kinds of leaders to follow. Here are 5 ways to tell if leaders are worth trusting.

1. They have healthy relationships.

Healthy people tend to have healthy relationships. However, people with a string of unreconciled or broken relationships reveal a lot about their character. It probably shows that they have excessive pride and arrogance.

2. Their words and their actions match.

If a leader doesn’t follow through on his words, there’s no reason to follow him.

We all make mistakes, so there is plenty of room for grace. However, if leaders don’t consistently back up their words with action, it speaks to a lack of integrity and self-discipline. Ultimately, they can’t be trusted. If a leader doesn’t follow through on his words, there’s no reason to follow him.

3. They serve and care for those they lead.

Leaders should improve the lives around them. Unfortunately, too many leaders are more concerned with their own prominence. A good way to tell is to pay attention to how well they serve and care for those they lead. If they don’t do this well, it’s a sign they’re self-centered, lacking humility and compassion.

4. They submit to accountability outside their authority.

Mature leaders know they aren’t perfect. They know they have weaknesses and blind spots, both morally and with their abilities. If there isn’t strong accountability in place outside of their own authority, leaders will fail and hurt people. But even worse, without accountability, they will become more egocentric, self-righteous, and potentially narcissistic.

5.  They show a willingness to change/grow.

Great leaders will invite feedback, take responsibility when they fall short, and work to improve. If a leader thinks he or she has reached the apex of wisdom and enlightenment, it’s another sign of self-righteousness and arrogance. Leadership reveals a person’s shortcomings as much as a person’s strengths. A leader who isn’t willing to grow and change is not worth following.

Sound off: What do you think is the best way to earn trust in leadership?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think makes a good leader?”