Leaders Build Trust by Showing Loyalty

The Second Wave: Relationship Trust

Building the Wave of Relationship Trust requires deliberate trust-building behaviors.

We will start with some character-based behaviors, such as straight talk, showing respect, being transparent, righting wrongs, and showing loyalty. We’ll also explore the “counterfeit” versions of these behaviors. A counterfeit behavior is one that looks like the trust-building behavior, but instead of building trust, this behavior is distorted into something that tears trust down.

This week: Show Loyalty

Give away credit more than you claim. Speak about people as though they are physically present. Protect the absent by advocating for them. When you must speak about people not present, check your intent. Never disclose the private information of others. By doing this, others will learn how much you have their backs, which builds loyalty.

The opposite of Showing Loyalty is betrayal. Whereas betrayal can be rare, a common “counterfeit” version of this behavior is being two-faced. In essence, being two-faced is giving credit to people in front of them and playing down their contribution when they’re absent, claiming more credit for yourself. Sweet-talking people to their face and gossiping behind their back.

Showing loyalty can be a “slow burn” because your loyalty to others will often be discovered over time as acts pile up and earn you a reputation. The counterfeit version–the two-faced approach–will be discovered much sooner, and your reputation can be more difficult to earn back.

Any time you talk about someone else, assume they will hear exactly what you said. Imagine their response. We often think twice when writing emails, because we can’t control who ends up seeing them. But what if we extended that habit to speaking of others?

To understand the counterfeit version better, check out Lencioni’s Skillful Politician archetype.

What to do instead?

Say things like this:

To share credit:

  • I want to acknowledge _ for this achievement…
  • You did a great job! I’m going to make sure that [leader or key player] hears about this!
  • Thank you for your solid contribution. It made a difference.

To kill gossip:

  • We should talk about this when this person is here.
  • I’d rather talk to her directly than talk about her now with just us.
  • How do you think we should discuss this situation with them?
  • What is in the best interest of this person?
  • Sounds like you might need to talk to ___ (directly and soon).

Lift others up and never tear them down. Show Loyalty to build trust.

Next week, we move on from character-based behaviors to competence-based behaviors, starting with Delivering Results.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

See more blog posts on The Speed of Trust.

#1: Leaders Invest in Trust
#2: Credibility Gaps: Leaders Know the Waves of Trust
#3: Behavior, Credibility, and the Wrong Kinds of Trust
#4: Leaders Know Credibility is Driven by Behavior
#5: Build Trust by Talking Straight
#6: Leaders Build Trust by Demonstrating Respect
#7: Leaders Build Trust by Creating Transparency
#8: Leaders Build Trust by Righting Wrongs

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