How Does a Leader Earn Trust?

Becoming an Eagle Scout is all about leadership. This is why many of the questions asked at the Eagle Scout Board of Review focus on the quality of leadership. I’m frequently surprised (perhaps by now I shouldn’t be) by the answers that are given when the candidates are asked what traits they look for in a leader. While each candidate answers this question differently, one characteristic that is often cited is, coincidentally, the first point of the Scout Law; the leader must be trustworthy. When asked to define what makes a leader trustworthy, here are the characteristics most often cited.

  • The Leader Displays Character – Character is honesty, integrity. It’s saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It’s keeping your word. It’s honoring your commitments. A Great Leader does all of these things. Great Leaders believe and demonstrate that “my word is my bond.”
  • The Leader Has High Values – Values are those core beliefs that a Great Leader cannot and will not violate. He/She has a clear understanding of right and wrong; proper and improper; legal and illegal. The Great Leader does not vacillate in these matters. Decisions are made and actions taken in accordance with these inviolate values.
  • The Leader Behaves Congruently – Congruent behavior simply means that the leader behaves in a way that models the beliefs that he/she lives by. They do not say, “do as I say and not as I do”. Rather, the Great Leader demonstrates acceptable and appropriate behavior at all times.
  • The Leader Cares About the Followers – One young man expressed it by saying that “A leader does not put his people in harm’s way unnecessarily”, an answer that was reflective of his Junior ROTC experiences in school. This can be expanded to reflect the fact that the Great Leader genuinely cares about what happens to his/her followers; wants those individuals to flourish and grow, both professionally and personally. Great Leaders put their followers in a position to succeed, showcasing each team member’s talents and skills, giving credit where credit is due. Great Leaders measure their own success by the successes of the team and the team’s members.

By conducting themselves in these ways, Great Leaders earn the trust of their followers, their team members. Have you had the privilege of working with a leader who earned your trust? Click “comment” and share how they earned your trust.

Tom Hoisington is a speaker, trainer, and author whose goal is to provide leaders and potential leaders with tools that empower them to build teams that are creative and cost effective along with a clearer understanding of how personality types interact within those teams. He can be contacted at

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