This is Non-Negotiable

What if successful leadership isn’t really that complicated?

What if there is one fundamental thing that determines whether people follow you as a leader?

No, it’s not a title, a position of power, or an endorsement that you are in charge.

What if one aspect of leadership is non-negotiable; a must-have characteristic that needs to be in place in order for others to pledge their loyalty and commitment?

What if one single element defines the ‘experience’ people have with you as a leader?

Can it really be as simple as one thing?

The answer is: YES!

That one thing is TRUST.

Trust is the foundation of any strong, successful, and mutually beneficial relationship.

You Can't Lead If Others Don't Follow

Without trust, any relationship is doomed.

It doesn’t matter if you are the best clinical person, crew chief, paramedic supervisor, or CEO.

In any business, an absence of trust stifles creativity and leaves those you interact with emotionally checked out. Conversely, when you have trust, energy and progress is accelerated. Others are more willing to engage and give you their commitment when they trust you.

So this begs the question: How can we build trust, and how can we avoid losing it?

There is ONE really important way for a leader to build trust and six quick ways leaders destroy trust. First let’s consider how leaders lose trust. Why? So you can avoid them.

Trust is lost when leaders:

    1. Inconsistently and inappropriately act and speak
    2. Withhold important information
    3. Focus on personal vs. shared gain
    4. Lie or tell half-truths
    5. Lack the courage to stand up for what they believe in
    6. Don’t do what they say they’re going to do

All right, that’s the negative. What about the positive?

Leaders build trust when they sincerely attempt to understand what is most important to someone else, and when they do, authentically help them achieve it!

Do you know what is most important to those you interact with? Try this: Ask them!

Take the time to understand:

    • What are they passionate about?
    • What motivates or stresses them out?
    • What do they worry about?
    • What challenge are they trying to overcome?
    • What’s most important to them—today and in the months/years to follow?

The triggers that motivate people to achieve are unique for everyone.

Successful Leaders Take The Time

Leaders cannot lead unless they listen, understand, and acknowledge the people they are leading (internally and externally). Let’s unpack that further:

    • Listen: Leaders listen to the challenges others face. They don’t assume or jump to conclusions. Instead, they focus on what people are trying to convey and remain present in a conversation.
    • Understand: Leaders are eager to discover what motivates and demotivates others. They take a sincere interest in learning what others are trying to achieve and why. They grasp their perspective, including their assumptions, even if they don’t necessarily share the same point of view. Understanding where people are coming from is important to gaining buy-in and support.
    • Acknowledge: Leaders genuinely appreciate and recognize the efforts of others—publicly. They celebrate achievements, regardless of how big or how small. Leaders know others are more willing to stretch their comfort zone when their efforts are acknowledged.

Leaders, at every level, must earn the trust of those they lead.

Once you understand what motivates those you interact with, you can genuinely help them put a plan in place to achieve their goals (with your help). If you want to build trust, don’t make this a one-time event. Like a relationship with a loved one, this requires an on-going, and authentic effort.

I know many leaders who think they do this, but they don’t—or at least not consistently.

I also know many individuals who love to complain about others but never took the time to understand what is most important to them.

    • Do you know what is most important to your boss? Co-workers? Clients?
    • What challenges weigh heavy on their mind?
    • Have you discussed ways you can help to overcome them?

Whether you have a good relationship with someone or not, I encourage you to make a renewed commitment to authentically connect with those you interact with. Make a point to ask about their lives beyond day-to-day business interactions. You should generally know what’s happening in their world and with their families. When you actually know the individuals you lead, you can predict their behavior, support their interests, and help them overcome stressful situations.

You can’t fake this. People will read through insincere efforts.

You have the power to create positive (or negative) experiences in the lives of those you lead. Make the time to authentically CONNECT with others and understand what matters mostto them. When you do, you will build trust and fast.

Jim RivielloAbout the Author

Jim Riviello is the founder of Leadership X University (LXU) and international bestselling author of There Must Be a Better Way. Jim is a highly sought after expert on transformational change, business innovation and leadership development. He works with entrepreneurs and senior executives to develop leadership growth champions who embrace change, focus their team’s efforts, and accelerate results.

Jim has spearheaded enterprise sales organizations, facilitated rapid growth as a C-level executive, and been a management consultant to Fortune 1000 companies. He has also launched and managed several successful startup organizations, nurturing them into profitable venues.

Jim has a passion for the pursuit of excellence, enormous energy, and the ability to energize others. He publishes a weekly leadership blog, podcast, and YouTube channel. To access a wealth of leadership tools and resources, please visit or contact Jim directly if you would like to schedule an exploratory discussion.

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