Joseph James Slawek: Nine keys to building a foundation of trust in your business

I recently had the privilege to meet a fellow business leader who was a great “talker.” He was inspirational, enthusiastic, confident and enjoyable to listen to — but his business was only a modest performer. I began to consider the idea that if talking were enough in the world of leadership, his organization should have been flourishing.

But those skills, wonderful as they may be, do not directly translate into business success. Your ability to move an organization forward is more than leadership talking — it’s leadership living.

When you “walk the walk” and make the effort to fully embrace the leadership life, it has the power to build trust within your organization. And when your people believe in who you are, what you stand for and what you represent, your company can absolutely thrive under your leadership, even if you aren’t the most gifted of talkers.

Here then are nine keys to consider for living the leadership life and building the trust that is necessary for a successful organization:


Humility: Leaders accept that there is always more knowledge to be gained and they learn from their mistakes. The best leaders are trustworthy because they accept failure as necessary for growth and they are able to admit when they’re wrong.

Integrity: Leaders stick with their beliefs both in good times and in bad. They are trustworthy because they have a foundation built on principles.

Knowledge: Leaders seek out the facts and data. They are trustworthy because they come prepared into any situation they might face.

Steadfastness: Leaders persevere in their roles. Leaders are trustworthy because they stand by their people, their programs and their positions.

Generative: Leaders create systems that allow their organizations, and the people who make up those organizations to prosper. They are trustworthy because they create ways to enhance the well-being of all the players on the team.

Authenticity: Leaders display a sense of being genuine and of “realness.” They’re clear, honest and straightforward. They’re trustworthy because they relate to others in an authentic manner.

Communication: Leaders communicate constantly and across many channels, but only sometimes with words. Leaders are trustworthy because they’re seen as being forthright and transparent.

Realism: Leaders define reality. They’re seen as trustworthy because they define the parameters and the goals for the organization.

Timing: Leaders know they’re entrusted to begin and end initiatives. Leaders are trustworthy because they have the courage that these important actions require.

At the heart of leadership in any business or organization where people are coming together to meet a goal or objective is personal character. So, for organizational success, there needs to be an authentic leadership life in action long before the leadership talk begins.