10 Benefits of Being a Trustworthy Leader

In the digital age, it’s easy to present a persona online that follows a carefully crafted narrative. That story line may be true or have elements of truth. We can be whomever we want online. I know people who appear online to have it all figured out, but offline are a hot mess. The converse it true, too: people online who appear kind and genuine are indeed both.

Being one’s self has become a pursuit of integrity and maintaining authenticity.

Admittedly, I hate the word authentic. It’s become cliche. And like all cliches, they become one due to overuse and misunderstanding. Authenticity, according to author and management psychologist Karissa Thacker, is “key to reaching your external dreams and achieving internal well-being…. [it] is the process of inventing yourself.” So, there’s value in the term, but we need a different descriptor.

A different term for authentic is trustworthy. A trustworthy leader is someone whom you can rely on to be honest and truthful.

Being a trustworthy leader certainly comes with some challenges, speaking honestly in difficult situations, for example. But the benefits outweigh the difficulties.

Improves Your Well-Being/Flourishing

It takes a decent amount of energy to be someone you’re not: the deceit; the energy to maintain a facade and connect make believe dots drains one’s well-being. Thacker says in her book The Art of Authenticity, “The authentic are brave enough to be themselves despite all of the fear within as well as all of the fear in the atmosphere.” When you stand strong in who you are, you build more meaningful relationships. You do work that is strongly aligned with your skills and strengths. These are positive contributors to your sense of well-being.

Strengthens Your Relationships

When we have the support of others, we have a greater shot at being successful. We need the emotional support of others to pursue goals that stretch us. Emotional support is easier to come by when we have strong relationships. Strong relationships are built on respect and belief in the other person. Trustworthiness helps strengthen both of these relationship essentials.

Strengthens Your Leadership

Competent leaders use influence to affect change and motivate people. Amy Cuddy explains that “the best way to gain influence is to combine warmth and strength.” Trustworthiness increases these two factors essential to great leaders.

Sharpens Your Self-Awareness

Today’s leaders need to recognize their limits, strengths, and weaknesses. Thacker explains that balanced processing helps a leader become more self-aware through “cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skill.” It allows you to view yourself, others, and make sense of situations with less personal bias. When we can deepen our sense of self by being more aware, we make room for greater clarity of what we can bring to a team, problem, or even a relationship.

Strengthens Your Resolve in Times of Doubt

With a sharpened sense of self-awareness, trustworthy leaders can more easily navigate the situations that cause doubt. Doubt isn’t completely unavoidable. Authentic leaders can rely on their consistent character to boost their resolve during difficult times.

Broadens Your Mind

Thacker writes that authentic leaders are truth-seekers. The pursuit of the truth comes with a broadened understanding of people and the context that influences them. Seeking the truth deepens your understanding of what is and what isn’t reality.

Increases Your “Appropriateness Transparency”

Being yourself doesn’t’ give you the license to destroy people with the truth: “I’m just being honest!” Whether in your personal life or your professional one, transparency must be used to help someone and the business. It shouldn’t be used to destroy a person’s confidence or diminish their potential.

Aligns Your Behaviors with Your Values

Trustworthy leaders constantly seek insights into their own self-awareness, this includes knowing their personal values. Knowing your values helps you be more consistent in the way you lead. Consistency breeds trust.

Increases Your Comfort in Recognizing Your Weaknesses

Psychologist Todd Kashdan wrote in The Upside of Your Dark Side, “As people become better able to satisfy their desire for comfort, they narrow their range of experiences and fall out of practice navigating life’s hardships.” In essence Kashdan, along with his co-author, Robert Biswas-Diener, highlight the importance of embracing discomfort. It takes a truth-seeking leader to embrace getting comfortable with weaknesses. It’s the only way forward to address and minimize their influence on performance.

Keeps your ego in check. In Ryan Holiday’s upcoming book, Ego is the Enemy, he writes about how to keep success from going to your head. Misdirected ambition, pride, or even believing your own hype can trick you into behaving in ways that alienate others and undermines valuable relationships. As a trustworthy leader, use the dark side of these realities of life to keep your ego in check.

While it takes constant, conscious choices to be trustworthy, the 10 benefits illustrate its usefulness. The workplace today can use more leaders willing to be themselves. What’s more, we can use more leaders who act in ways that develop mutually beneficial outcomes for both the organization and its people.


This post originally appeared on Inc.com on 4/28/16.


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Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of ExchangeGain. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

  • Spencer

    I feel like the last point here is really key. Recognizing your weaknesses is one thing a good leader needs to learn, but even more important I think is admitting your weakness. This can often take a strong dose of humility (a pretty good ego suppressor), but it shows a leader is capable of being vulnerable which allow them to better build trust with others. Additionally, by admitting weaknesses, it sends a clear sign to followers that their leader has taken the right steps to improve themselves, and that’s finding what needs to be improved. It’s the only way to inspire others to do the same.

    I really like your points and the sources you reference to back them up. Great stuff, thanks for sharing!

  • Tom Benson

    Good article… but title is a bit of an oxymoron. If you are truly a Leader… you are trustworthy. Someone might think they are a leader, even if they are not trustworthy, but the team that is to follow will NEVER see someone untrustworthy as their leader!!! It is like saying you will build a house, but budget constraints require that you don’t build the foundation until 5 years after the house is built. Just won’t work.

  • Sergey Yatsenko

    10 Benefits of Being a Trustworthy Leader. – */S.Y A Multi – Level Creativity is new KIND of TRUST.

  • Joey Hinkle

    I don’t find leadership in someone reading about it inll the while a book aspiring to become that leader no.. A leader is n ot up front calling to his crew “follow me”.. Rather a leader is coming up from behind his crew getting their hands dirty making sure the product is par for the course in addition to that team visualizing he shall return up from the ranks rather than being on top because he came off as the leadership type looking down on people he feels he must relay orders to..

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