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Do You Want to Build Trust or Just Play Games?

Guest post by Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley.

build trust

I am thrilled to host this guest post by Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley on the day they launch, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. This book leverages the decades of leadership wisdom accumulated and shared by luminary Ken Blanchard as well as Randy Conley’s deep knowledge of and experience with trust. Its 52 lessons are easy to read, but much harder to put into practice… which is the authors’ key point. If you’re looking to take your leadership game to the next level, grab this book today. It won’t disappoint.

In our new book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, we share a collection of leadership principles that we believe are common sense, but not always common practice. One of those simple truths is:

A relationship with no trust is like a cell phone with no service or internet–all you can do is play games.

Too many leaders treat relationships like a game. They view their team members as pawns on the chessboard of corporate politics that need to be maneuvered to accomplish the leader’s goals.

Authenticity is an essential component of being a trustworthy leader. People long to follow a leader who is sincere – and when they find one, they will offer that leader 100% of their energy and engagement. An authentic person is genuine. They don’t put on pretenses. “What you see is what you get” describes them. Their behavior in any given situation can be reasonably predictable, which breeds high levels of trust and security.

Making Common Sense Common Practice

To effectively get people to follow you and rally around the goals you want them to achieve, you need to be worthy of their trust. You also need to let them know you mean them no harm; you are behind them, supporting them, and have their best interests in mind. To get them to know you for who you are, you have to be REAL: reveal, engage, acknowledge, and listen.

  • Reveal information about yourself—Leaders often withhold information about themselves because they believe they need to maintain a safe distance from their employees; they can’t be friends. We believe that principle is misguided. As research shows, people want to have authentic relationships with their leaders. They want to know the person behind the title and sharing information about yourself is a primary way to accomplish that goal.
  • Engage employees as individuals—Every employee wants to be seen and known as an individual and not just a number showing up to do a job. Knowing your employees on an individual level gets harder to accomplish the higher you move in the organization. It’s simply a matter of too many people to spend time with and not enough time to do it all. But it’s doable if you have a plan. Get out of your office and walk the hallways. Schedule regular check-in video meetings with remote team members. Inquire about how their kids are doing and what’s exciting in their lives outside of work. Be a guest attendee at department and team meetings so employees get some facetime with you and can relate to you in a small group setting. The more you can engage people on an individual level, the more they’ll understand you care about them on a personal level.
  • Acknowledge employee contributions—When Randy conducts training classes on building trust, he’ll often ask the group to respond to this statement: “Raise your hand if you are sick and tired of all the praise you receive at work.” No one ever raises their hand! People are starving for acknowledgement of their efforts and contributions, and you would be amazed at how much trust you can build by authentically acknowledging your employees. Ken has said that if he could choose one lasting legacy of his work, it would be the philosophy of “catching people doing something right.” Authentic praise and recognition unlocks commitment, engagement, and passion in your team’s performance.
  • Listen to learn—Too often leaders think and act like they are the smartest person in the room. Thinking and acting that way leaves little room for you to learn from the people who usually know the most about what’s happening on the front lines of your business. When you have the chance to interact with employees, spend more time listening than you do talking, and look for ways to incorporate their feedback in your decisions and plans. The simple act of listening is a big trust booster in relationships because it signals to the other person that what they have to say is important, you care, and you value what’s being communicated.

Work, and life, move at a frenetic pace these days. There are always urgent and important matters to deal with and it’s incredibly easy to develop tunnel-vision in regard to our projects and lose sight of our people. All of us leaders need to remember that our actions are under a microscope, and our people develop perceptions of our leadership through random bits of information that come their way. We can’t lose sight that a fundamental element of successful team performance is developing personal and authentic relationships. A great way to do that is to show our people that we are REAL.

Simple Truths of LeadershipKen Blanchard, one of the most influential leadership experts in the world, is co-author of more than 65 books including the iconic bestseller The New One Minute Manager® with combined sales of over 23 million copies in 47 languages. In 2005 Ken was inducted into Amazon’s Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 bestselling authors of all time. Ken is co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies®, a globally recognized leadership training and consulting firm in San Diego, California. Connect with Ken on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Randy Conley, vice president and trust practice leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies, works around the globe to help organizations build and restore trust. Randy coauthored Blanchard’s Building Trust training program and is a contributing author to three books, including Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. His award-winning Leading with Trust blog has influenced over 4 million viewers since its inception. Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyConley.

Ken and Randy’s new book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, goes on sale today February 1, 2022.


One comment on “Do You Want to Build Trust or Just Play Games?

  1. Darrel Blake on

    Hi Julie – a really excellent article even though you and I ….. and multiple thousands of leaders have heard it all before . The REAL acronyms so excellent .As an experienced coach I have 35000 plus coaching hours to my credit and one of the biggest things that has become clear in the past 15 years is how difficult it is for far too many leaders to implement, execute and demonstrate what they say they are committed to and know from knowledge sources or regard as important.Thus leadership accountability is weak and troubling to me.
    So in my opinion about 75 % of leaders are barely mediocre or poor at active listening VIS A VIS Nancy Kline’s construct of High Quality Attention. Also I only truly trust 20 % maximum of all leaders i have met, if I include making and KEEPING promises, Regards, Darrel Blake in Johannesburg SA


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