Leadership and Emotions – Becoming Trustworthy

by | Apr 4, 2022 | Personal Growth, Professional Growth

“People judge you really quickly, at first just on your facial features. There are two dimensions – warmth and competence. You can think of them as trustworthiness and strength. They’re first judging you on warmth; evaluating whether or not you are trustworthy. That’s much more important to them than whether or not you’re competent.”

-Amy Cuddy

Leading Yourself

I trust you. Three words we selectively share with those who have earned our trust. The people we admire and place our faith. These are the indispensable members of our inner circle.

While trust is how we see others, becoming trustworthy is how others see us. We spend years aspiring to be trustworthy – investing in building our knowledge, responsiveness, and relationship skills. What can get in our way is putting ourselves over others. A complicated learning journey that never ends.

An excellent resource on becoming trustworthy is the Trusted Advisor Associates organization. Their research identifies four elements to being trustworthy:

  • Credibility
  • Reliability
  • Intimacy
  • Self-Orientation

How trustworthy are you? Trusted Advisor Associates offers a twenty question self-assessment and I highly recommend this exercise for individual development and team building.

Trust Quotient Assessment

Let’s take a closer look at the four elements of becoming trustworthy.

Common Credibility Challenges

  • Not having the answer
  • Having the wrong answer
  • Looking confused
  • Misdiagnosing

Common Reliability Challenges

  • Making too many promises – “I’ll send you that article”
  • Not keeping your promises (IOUs)
  • Unclear expectations – “I thought you meant…”
  • Ineffective follow-up process

Common Intimacy Challenges

  • Fear of silence
  • Being willing to share personal life at work
  • Cautious vulnerability
  • Ineffective non-verbal’s/body language

Common Self-Orientation Challenges

  • We tend to focus on ourselves
  • Lack of gratitude and affirming the ideas of others
  • Being distracted, multi-tasking, focusing on your phone
  • Transactional versus long-term relationships

On a personal level, my challenge is continuing to build my reliability. I aim to be helpful and can promise plenty of IOUs. The reality is I keep most of my commitments, yet sometimes I fail. This personal accountability is on me. What concerns me is sometimes others do not hold me accountable. The IOU receiver does not follow up. They think “he is too busy or not a big deal.”

My failure and their silence deplete my reliability.

Now that you know my development focus, which of these four areas of becoming trustworthy is your greatest need? Others in your life know the answer – time for you to find out and act.

Four best practices to becoming trustworthy:

  • Credibility — When you encounter a situation where you do not know the answer, bridge by acknowledging “I don’t know” and transitioning to “what I do know”
  • Reliability — Keeping your promises is expected – add additional value by anticipating their other needs and providing solutions
  • Intimacy — Your words are important yet can be secondary – use effective non verbal’s such as smiling and open body language
  • Self-Orientation — Put your focus on your audience, admit your mistakes, and let others go first

Each day we must rebuild our credibility, reliability, intimacy – while keeping our attention on others. Leaders need followers, and followers need leaders. Become trustworthy and you will never be alone.

Leading Your Team

An excellent article on providing feedback:

Adam Grant Advice on Feedback

Read to Lead

Leaders benefit from being active readers, long reads not just social media posts and news feeds. A deep read builds concentration, strengthens your intellectual capacity, and offers wisdom you can share. As you refresh or build your reading habit, diversify your experience – old, new, fiction, non-fiction, audio, hard cover, and e readers.


My March reading list:

Shackleton by Ranulph Fiennes

A new biography of the famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton. A leader who makes many mistakes yet is admired for his determination and risk-taking. Lessons in resilience as well as resisting goal achievement when lives are at stake.

The Maid by Nita Prose

The story of a maid at an exclusive hotel who becomes a murder suspect. A work of fiction that provides an inside look at those who work behind the scenes, to make our lives easier. Great leaders recognize every role in an organization has value.

The Beauty of Dusk by Frank Bruni

A New York Times columnist experiences an unexpected loss of vision. He elects to avoid pity and actively pursues understanding his ailment. When we encounter challenges we have choices – fight or flight.

Have a great week!