“Who do you trust?”

When I grew up in the 50s there was a TV program known as “To Tell The Truth.” It featured four celebrities attempting to correctly identify a described contestant with an unusual occupation.

This central character is accompanied by two impostors who pretend to be the central character. The impostors are allowed to lie but the central character is sworn “to tell the truth.”

In the past 14 years, traveling 250+ days per year, I’ve personally spoken with several thousand leaders at all levels. The subject of trust is a major issue in almost every conversation.

Most people do not feel their leader is an impostor, but many feels their leader struggles with communicating in a style, and at a level they understand.

When trust is present, you can’t contain it. It overflows to every part of the organization. Without it you have to have more corporate policemen manning the grapevine. Leaders who want to build and sustain trust must be visible to all stakeholders and available and accountable to their core leaders.

Absentee leaders, or leaders insulated by an assistant, who also functions part-time as a Prussian guard, erodes team spirit and with it, mutual trust.

Building trust requires sharing ”inside information” and including core leaders in decision-making, especially the significant decisions affecting their personal future.

Caution, trusting unproven or inexperienced people can be tantamount to pinning a “kick me” sign on your back. On the other hand, not trusting your proven core leaders diminishes their trust in you and their passion for the mission and vision.

Breaking trust should be addressed immediately and a clear path to restoration established, sooner rather than later. Broken trust never gets better with age. Trust broken the second time should bring an immediate release of the team member, or a resignation by the leader.

The best way to confirm and affirm those whom you trust is their ability to keep a confidence. The best time to assess their trustworthiness is before a situation arises for the need ”to tell the truth.” Never risk your leadership with people you don’t trust or with people who don’t trust you.

If you have people on your core team that you wouldn’t trust with your pin numbers and passwords, why are they still on your team?