The How to’s of Building Trust and Respect for Young Leaders


The How to’s of Building Trust and Respect for Young Leaders

When I first became the secretary of the Student Forum on Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in 2012, which happened to be the first leadership position I’ve ever held in an organization aside other society and mission leadership positions I have been holding, every member looked on me for guidance. I guess that’s the role of being a leader after all. Thankfully, other positions I have held made a great impression on my ability and courage to have taken up the role in the first instant.

The job was tough not only because it was more of student members, no. Not all! But I we were reporting to higher body — the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). “As a young leader – be mindful that your older colleagues have seen your youthful enthusiasm before”. A quote that guides me! Truthfully, my people trusted me.

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The ability to build trust in relationships is essential in leadership. Yet not all leaders fully understand the impact of what happens when they are not trusted. In his book, published in 2012, “The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships and a Stronger Bottom Line”, David Horsager writes that trust flows from individuals, not from organizations. Without trust, leaders lose influence and the ability to retain their team members and lose the confidence of their colleagues. He further stated that trust is the competitive edge shared by great leaders and great organizations. Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It is instead like a forest that grows over time but can be burned down with acts of carelessness.

That if people trusts you only because of your authority, they will give you the minimum effort.

CEO of Red Hat, Jim Whitehurst shared advice on how to build trust in an organization as a young leader. Here are two of them:

Demonstrate confidence

Many people in positions of authority don’t show confidence well, especially with their team. It’s one thing to convey confidence to your own boss, but it’s just as important to share that same confidence with those who report to you.

Engage your people

Trust has to be earned, and it’s not enough to call a meeting and tell people what to do and then retreat behind your own closed door. You also need to be open about your weaknesses and ask the team to help you address them. Nobody expects perfection, so don’t hold your cards too close; get your team to work with you.

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Horsager’s book: The Trust Edge, reveals how trust has the ability to accelerate or destroy any business, organization, or relationship. The lower the trust, the more time everything takes, the more everything costs, and the lower the loyalty of everyone involved. He identified eight pillars of trust that are key attributes of successful leaders:

1. Clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous.
2. Compassion: People put faith in those who care beyond themselves.
3. Character: People notice those who do what is right over what is easy and who don’t betray confidences.
4. Competency: People have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant, and capable.
5. Commitment: People believe in those who stand through adversity.
6. Connection: People want to follow, buy from, and be around friends.
7. Contribution: People immediately respond to results.
8. Consistency: People love to see the little things done consistently.

So, as you embark upon your role as a young leader build an excellent trust among your team, and they will give you the respect that you deserve. “Respect is earned not gotten because you are in position of authority”.


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