You can’t swing a cat without reading about the importance of Trust in leadership these days.

But before there can be Trust, there must be Reliability.

Reliability is action. Consistently following through on what you say makes you a Reliable leader. Doing so even when inconvenient  or difficult makes you a Reliable and Trustworthy leader.

Everything about a CEO has an outsized effect on those around him. When he speaks, he implies a guarantee. People bank on his words, are motivated by them, tie their income and family’s welfare to them, their professional contribution and purpose, their pride and their dignity. When consistently delivering on his word–especially when he would rather not–the CEO earns deep respect and inspires revolutionary action from others.

The CEO’s word  is an indication of whether the organization’s ambitions are matched by its ability to execute.

Reliability and Trust must be guarded as a potent human experience. In his classic book, The Will to Lead, Marvin Bower confirms that scholars are unanimous in putting trustworthiness–defined as integrity in action–at the top of qualities required by any leader, with equal emphasis on trivial as well as crucial matters.

People will forgive a lot–but not the mess that comes with unreliability. Cracks in this feature of executive armor can discredit an entire organization. No one, especially a leader, should be exempt from accountability for not keeping his/her word or failing to pull it together and clean up.

Our industry is tough enough without the c-suite looked upon with questions and skepticism.

Change begins with self-reflection and personal commitment to high standards that come with the privilege of serving others by way of high rank. Only then can one undertake the difficult but respectable task to become a person of distinction, honor and yes, unquestionable Reliability that goes hand in hand with Trust in leadership.


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