25 Ways to Spot Leaders You Can Trust
Before everything else, determine if people are trustworthy.
But, what if time is short and schedules full? How can you quickly spot someone you can trust?
Leaders you can trust:
- Acknowledge they don’t know.
- Treat waiters and waitresses with kindness and respect. How do they treat rental cars and hotel rooms?
- Take clear positions on tough issues – after exploration and consideration. Fence straddlers serve themselves. When push comes to shove, they’ll throw you under the bus. Don’t rely on someone who tests the wind before making decisions. When the wind changes, so will they.
- Move toward relationship not isolation.
- Honor others.
- Say thank you.
- Exhibit tender hearts and tenacious wills.
- Make life better for others.
- Listen eagerly, actively, and openly.
***What are they reading?
***What have they recently learned?
***How has their thinking changed?
***What is their ratio of speaking to listening?
***How often do they ask questions?
- Talk about themselves humbly and realistically.
- Talk about others thankfully.
- Think long-term more than short-term. Both are necessary. But, long-term perspectives take more courage than short.
- Stay steady under pressure. Stress reveals character. What happens when things don’t go their way?
- Work toward agreements.
- Deal with controversies and tough issues quickly and optimistically. Trustworthy leaders don’t sweep issues under the carpet.
- Look skeptically on quick fixes.
- Follow fads cautiously.
- Learn from experience.
***What have they learned that doesn’t work?
***What worked for them in the past?
- Stick with it.
***How long have they been at this?
***How long are their richest relationships?
***What makes them quit?
- Give generously.
- Love getting things done.
- Take responsibility.
***Have you heard them say they screwed up?
***When was the last time they apologized?
***How do they respond when people make mistakes?
- Stand on principle even when it hurts.
- Grow angry slowly.
- Share weaknesses when appropriate.
How do you spot leaders you can trust?
This is the kind of list you want to have at work to reference. Fantastic work, Dan!
Thanks Jerry. Have a great week.
I would love to see a group of leaders AND a group of employees prioritize this list and see which they believed to be most important. Wonder what the differences or similarities in their lists would look like? As I look it over, I am drawn to 15-25 more than 1-14, but they all are spot on! How they treat others and what they will “own” are very telling, as are taking a stand… position, principles, etc. Great post. Hope it doesn’t get lost in the weekend mail for folks!
Thanks Vicki. I love your idea. Wouldn’t it be fun to explore how different people might prioritize and illustrate these ideas. I have to try this… 🙂
Grow angry slowly… Excellent, home run! 🙂
Thanks Ken. That one really hits home.
Simple, do they have followers?
SP back to generating oxytocin
Thanks Scott. With your approach in mind, I can trust Hitler.
You are absolutely correct Dan.
Hitler would have been a person you could have trusted without any doubt. Only problem is I am not of the opinion you believe what he believed. There goes your assumption of my approach, did you feel the breeze as it sailed out the window?? Whoopsie.
Another question would of course be STARTING with Why?
When one starts off correctly then the first thing determined is if beliefs are the same.
Then one can determine if this is a person I want to follow. If beliefs do not match no trust will emerge and one will not become a follower.
And yes Dan following good and bad folks works the same exact way. People did follow Hitler just as people followed Dr King. Following is based on agreed upon beliefs and those following figure those beliefs are good.
I do not agree with supremacy beliefs with race and religions but the people who do THINK their beliefs are for the greater good, do. They are just mistaken. Goo for them I always say.
Anyways to me looking for a common single thread is simpler than spending time observing the common thread in 25 examples.
Isn’t that simpler?
SP back to the grand oxytocin
Why would I follow anybody?
The kind of followship you describe suggests (to me) a kind of blind hero-worship that I don’t hold with.
For me, I would always question any leaders theses and plausibilize with what I know and can prove – not with what I believe. I actually prefer to challenge my believes regularly to being kept in a comfortable state of rightousness.
And (again, to me), questioning the leader usually means that you are not a “true follower”.
(I might be splitting hairs over the definition of “follower” here.)
Dictadict, One way to spot a leader you can trust is to see how they respond when challenged or corrected.
Great post Dan!
I am looking at #25 and wondering if that was mentioned for the last on ‘purpose.’ 🙂 It is good that Leaders are not afraid to share their weaknesses when appropriate though. I am a bit skeptical however about the Leaders who come across as knowing it all and having everything under total control when that is never the case at all. Sharing your vulnerable side when appropriate can work to ones advantage and become one of their greatest strength.
Thanks Yvonne. I liked it at the end. It spoke to me.
I don’t trust people who always have it all together. 🙂 — I don’t like them either.
No lasting relationship can be built without trust. When adequate equity of trust is banked, infrequent violations can be tolerated. However, no equity in reserve produces no intolerance.
Truth is foundation of trust.
Well said JC, well said.
Thanks Jimmy. I’m thankful you brought the idea that trustworthy leaders, like everyone else, will disappoint or fall short, from time to time.
The track record gives us confidence to keep trusting after a failure. Very helpful.
Dan, Excellent article, thank you for sharing. I will share this with my network too. I enjoyed each point in turn. If i may add a related thought.. for me one of the key giveaways in spotting a poor leader is that they describe themselves as a good one. In my experience good followers (and occasionally tough competitors) determine and define good and great leaders, never the individual themselves. 🙂
Thanks Carl. Nice add… it’s not what we say about ourselves but what others say.
Thanks Dan. When you have a moment or two – i would really value your feedback on an article i recently wrote, on humilty in leadership.
Yup, leadership, behaviors that empower!
Thanks Suzette. It’s so easy to disempower, discourage, and drain people. Maybe that’s one reason leadership is challenging.
23. “Stand on principle even when it hurts.” – Love it! It’s a test of your endurance. If you can’t stand on your principle, nothing else matters.
Well said quancluu. Sometimes that means saying something that isn’t comfortable for people to hear.
“Sometimes that means saying something that isn’t comfortable for people to hear.” <= so true, Dan! Couldn't agree more. Thanks for the simple, insightful and practical post.
Heck, Dan, if I were looking for a job, this is the list I’d use to interview the manager I’d be working with.
Great idea books.
Read carefully- trust is more than just being reliable. M
Thanks Marlene. You can rely on the untrustworthy to let you down. 🙂
Reblogged this on and commented:
Great blog about quickly identifying leaders you can trust!
Reblogged this on jeanne's blog…a nola girl at heart and commented:
A great list worth putting into practice…
Reblogged this on WRITINGS OF SANSAR and commented:
Leaders Are Readers. Therefore, depending upon the field you are leading, you need to keep on reading so that you can keep abreast with the new developments of the fields.
How do you spot leaders you can trust?
In our technological era, determine if the conversation is more with you or their phone. Leaders will gravitate towards the personal conversation or at least provide a courteous acknowledgement.
Thanks alexbtulane. You can tell a lot about a person by how they talk.
“Treat waiters and waitresses with kindness and respect.” – I find that this is the single greatest “tell” of true character, whether one is looking for a leader, a spouse, or a business partner.
Thanks rabbiadar. How we treat those with less power or status reveals who we are.
I would add to your list that a good leader doesn’t make you guess at what he expects and where you stand. He /she is direct and forthright.
It is a very painful awakening indeed when you think you’ve read a person as a leader you can trust, but then they blindside you by being untruthful, indirect and hurtful.
I agree Thrown. When your not honest with your people, they guestion your trustwortyness. Without the trust of your people, your organization suffers from lack of true commitment to vision and mission. “Thanks, Steven”!
Thanks Thrown. Yes indeed. People who don’t tell us where we stand are on power trips or the need to please controls them.
I think that I shall remember these. I have, sometimes, found that those you trust do let you down, and it is a challenge to stay grounded and not become cynical about people.
These points should be a help for the future
Good morning Dan; “WOW”, this is so great in so many ways. Every interview regarding a Leadership position should include this list. It is thorough, it is real, and the answers telling. We ALL should review this list frequently to keep our compass on true north. (This is a keeper Dan). ‘Cheers’
Sounds like a good list for choosing a friend or spouse also. 🙂
So true Dauna… “Thanks, Steven”!
Great list to be used in many ways, saved to my interview file and printed to be shared often. Very good post Dan
Spot on Dan! Someone like this, I could follow!
Thanks Dan! I go back to your starting point…discerning who you can trust when time is not on your side. These are characteristics you can typically spot with one’s leadership radar. Of course, it becomes a personal challenge. I want to continually grow to more and more BE the person described. This benefits those who need to count on me…trust me. And, it allows me to more quickly “detect” these qualities in another person.
I’m curious, Dan, what situations did you have in mind as you wrote? Hiring someone…entering a new partnership with someone…new employee or office mate…new boss…??
Thanks Steven. Funny you ask about the situation I had in mind. I got up that morning not sure what to write about. The problem of figuring out who to trust came to mind. One thing led to another…
Dan, a Big Gracias for the list. The list is great for young professional when mentoring them.
Honor others….wow, we desperately need to bring Honor back into our home, workplace, communities, and nation. Honor is the key that unlocks the door to a heart and is the model of true authentic leadership.
Great post Dan!
Love #9 — Listen…..What are they reading? What have they recently learned? Do they listen more than speak? These behaviors illustrate focus, curiosity of others, and hopefully good intentions. Do they seek first to understand, instead of to lecture? As a parent, I find that I am often too quick to correct my children’s behavior instead of first seeking to understand the reasons for their choices. I think we are ALL “leaders in training.” Through my actions, I am showing my children how to be a leader in the world. I want to be a trustworthy leader and must continue to work at it each day. Thank you for the reminder of areas where I can improve to elevate my own journey. Keep up the good work, LFreak. 😉
Spot on, alas some in senior management think they are leading when in fact they are just managing – there is a very real difference!! The opposite list is also an interesting list and sadly people will recognise those characteristics as well!!!
A great list Dan! For me Number 22 resonates most because taking responsibility is what leadership is all about. It’s about making tough decisions, shouldering the blame (even when you’re not directly responsible, but your reports are) and it’s about sharing the glory with others in times of success.
My personal favourite in No 23 – but it does require the leader to have a strong and conscious connection with their personal principles and values. Great work as ever Dan – thank you
#3 is the best – truest, most obvious that I’ve observed. Unfortunately many ministers are not trained – and cannot admit – to take a stand on tough issues within their congregations. I’ve seen CYA even among church leaders.
“How do you spot leaders you can trust?”
I don’t spot leaders whom I can trust .. I give my trust that others learn to trust me, too.