Successfully Leading Change Is About Reaching the Trust Point

On 7th February 2018, I became the President of my local BNI Chapter, Invincible, here in Northeast England.

I was selected for the role the day before by the franchise Co-executive Director and our Director Consultant. Over some months, they had worked tirelessly with our ‘core’ group while we secured sufficient members to re-launch the chapter.

Sometimes it is not about your history

Six former experienced BNI members began that ‘core’ group. Given the existence of those former members, it came as some surprise to me that I was selected to be the new chapter’s inaugural President.

So, why that decision?

Over the past year, I discovered that my appointment was not so much about my skills, knowledge and expertise, though that had a bearing. It had much more to do with their trust in me.

Reflecting about this on the anniversary of my appointment, it reinforced my long-held assertion that in leading any change successfully, trust is pivotal. So, I set out below how all change leaders should go about building to that trust point with their colleagues.

How does that trust grow?

Trust is not a simple thing, and for any leader of change, it comprises three types. I draw below on some excellent work by Reina and Reina for my description of what each type involves and how all change leaders ought to develop them.

Competence Trust - this is the trust of capability through:

  • Respecting people’s knowledge, skills and abilities – we can all learn from others.
  • Respecting people’s judgement – your view is not always the best one.
  • Involving others and seeking their input – securing a range of opinions and views usually leads to a better solution.
  • Helping people learn skills – colleagues will love being valued, and a brilliant way to do that is to teach them something new or develop an aspect of their role.


Contractual Trust - this is the trust of character through:

  • Managing expectations –the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ leadership model, avoiding conflict, rather than setting out expectations for attitude, behaviour and performance and then holding their colleagues accountable is still too prevalent.
  • Establishing boundaries – all leaders of change should set the parameters for responsibility and authority that will enable their staff to function effectively.
  • Delegating appropriately – many leaders, in my experience, do not understand why, when and how to empower efficiently.
  • Encouraging mutually beneficial intentions – too often in leading change, a ‘win-lose’ mentality prevails, rather than securing the power of ‘win-win’.
  • Honouring agreements – if you give your word, it should be your bond.
  • Being consistent – no-one trusts an erratic nature, and as examples, the world of political leadership globally is full of distrusted people attempting to lead change.


Communications Trust - this is the trust of disclosure through:

  • Sharing information – I was told many years ago when first entering the world of local government that knowledge is power. The truth is that shared knowledge is much more powerful.
  • Telling the truth – honesty is a much-valued trait, though less commonly practised.
  • Admitting mistakes – having the courage and personal resolve to apologise and take action to put things right is the hallmark of an excellent change leader.
  • Giving and receiving constructive feedback – learning these two skills is a significant asset to any change leader’s role. People often want things to be explained, and occasionally, need to be told, but in a manner that focuses on the issue, not on the person.
  • Maintaining confidentiality – where matters are sensitive, keep them that way, unless you secure the permission of the potentially vulnerable party first.
  • Speaking with good purpose – do not to seek to hurt or destroy, instead try to grow and develop.


Achieving the trust point is, therefore, not an easy goal

Building to a trust point with anyone, let alone your team or within your organisation is, therefore, no easily attainable objective.

However, in leading any form of change, it is the most central objective, as only in trusting you will your people definitely take those first, often hesitant steps on a journey towards the compelling vision you lay out before them.

I wish you well with that journey.

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