Patrick Gallen: Good leaders trust and inspire

‘Trust and inspire’ leadership gives people a sense of purpose.
‘Trust and inspire’ leadership gives people a sense of purpose. ‘Trust and inspire’ leadership gives people a sense of purpose.

MY colleague and I were finishing off a leadership programme for a large public sector organisation in Cork last week.

At the graduation event the participants were regaling about what they had learned along the way, and amongst the many traits they referenced for a good leader, was the importance of trust in the team and being able to inspire them to achieve both individual and organisational outcomes.

Stephen Covey references this in one of his publications as an alternative to ‘command and control’ leadership.

Covey explains how this approach aligns with modern sensitivities and fulfils the pressing need for effective corporate leadership. He teaches leaders to become stewards of their workforce by offering a model of morality and virtue to build trust and provide inspiration.

Covey calls on leaders to demonstrate imperative workplace virtues – humility, courage, authenticity, vulnerability and empathy – to create and maintain an abiding sense of mission and purpose.

Archaic command and control management is not leadership, and this type of regime limits the capacity of people.

The time has come to retire this approach and replace it with a system that earns people’s trust and inspires them.

‘Trust and inspiration’ is a fresh way to exercise leadership. It maximises everyone’s possibilities for growth, makes the most of people’s talents and empowers them to consistently give their best performance.

‘Trust and inspire’ leadership gives people a sense of purpose. It shows that you care about your employees, and it connects them with you and their colleagues in a meaningful way.

Being a good leader calls for caring about the people you lead and demonstrating that concern daily in all your actions and in all aspects of your organisation.

To be a trustworthy, inspiring leader, view leadership as stewardship.

“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

People trust stewards to handle crucial responsibilities and tasks. Stewardship can take three forms - modelling, trusting and inspiring.

The people you lead will model their behaviour on your behaviour – good or bad!

Leading with trust means having confidence in the people around you and helping them grow.

When you show the people you lead that you trust them, they will reciprocate. Your faith in your employees will encourage them to rise to the challenges of their work to demonstrate that they merit your trust.

Stewards connect with the individuals they lead, but they also feel connected to an elevated, inspirational purpose. In today’s chaotic world, inspirational leadership is quickly becoming a ‘strategic imperative’.

To become a trusted, inspiring leader, find a role model you admire and emulate his or her actions and behaviours.

As the German poet and playwright Goethe once said, “Treat people as they are, and they will remain as they are. Treat people as they can and should be, and they will become as they can and should be.”

Moreover, remember the best leaders embody the values they want others to display, as our recent graduates reminded us at their graduation event.

:: Patrick Gallen is people and change consulting partner at Grant Thornton Ireland