The Key to Influence: Can I Trust You?

Trust in Leadership

This is the first question that people ask about you. As leaders, this is our chance to win or lose someone forever. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new leader in a company or you just started a small church group. If you don’t pass this test, you don’t gain influence.

Without influence, you cannot lead.

This simple principle applies in organizational settings, home groups, one on one relationships, public speaking engagements, etc. If you don’t take the time to establish trust on the front end, no one is going to listen and follow.

In order to establish trust, answer these two simple questions:

Who Are You?

This is your chance to connect. Show them that you’re a real person with real concerns. If you fail to answer this question, your audience will start to develop their own conception of who you are. 9 times out of 10, they’ll develop the wrong idea.

This is your chance to tell your story. Andy Stanley wrote a great book titled Communicating for a Change [affiliate link] in which he lays out his framework for developing his sermons. He starts by answering this question.

His words:

By starting with a statement or story about myself I am able to introduce myself as well as the topic to the audience. This is especially important when addressing a new audience. But ME isn’t really about me.

ME is about finding common ground with THEM. Common ground is an essential to any relationship. Especially a communicator’s relationship with an audience. An audience has to buy into the messenger before they buy into the message.

You know from your own experience that if there is something that bugs you about the communicator its difficult to engage with their content. This is especially true if they dont seem genuine. A lack of genuineness makes it difficult to trust a speaker. You may even catch yourself resisting and arguing with their content.

This is certainly true in any leadership scenario. Be sure to identify the ME in your environment, but always be focused on how it applies to your environment. People want to know who you are, but they don’t want to hear you go on about yourself for half an hour.

Why Are You Here?

After you’ve established your identity, you’ve got to establish your purpose.

  • What are you speaking to us about?
  • Why have you taken over the team?
  • What are we trying to accomplish here?

If you want to influence your team or the people in your life for the better, they need to know exactly what you’re intending to do with that influence. This can never be about you. It’s got to be about them or else you end up as the talking head at the top of the totem pole.

Here’s How You Can Screw This Up

By telling lies.

On an instructional level, this all seems very strategic. Do your research, walk in to your leadership environment, manipulate the crowd into connecting with you, and then press on to your objectives. That might work for a little while…

Eventually that kind of pretend leadership fizzles and fades. You get tired of living a lie and putting on appearances. Your followers sense a disconnect and sniff out your lack of integrity. Long story short, you fail.

The best way to avoid this is to live a life of integrity. Tell the truth; be transparent and authentic. When you get up to say who you are, tell people who you really are. When you tell them why you’re there, tell them why you’re really there.

Answer those two questions honestly and you’ll earn trust and influence.

Question(s): Who are you and why are you here?

  • Anonymous

    The “who” you are is important. I have had instances when I have interviewed people and they just give off an odd vibe. Most people can pick out that “something not quite right” very early if they are perceptive.
    “Why are you here”, “how can you help”, and “what do you get out of this” are crucial in selling people something; even if its just selling them on an idea. But you know this as a realtor.
    You have precious little time to “sell” your persona, and when it’s gone, you can’t get that moment back. If people don’t trust you in the beginning, it will be a major hurdle to get them to trust you later.
    It is a simple as you’ve said- Don’t lie. 

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Spot on, Doc. Trust is that necessary foundation in a relationship. If its not there, then you’re stuck at square 1. 

  • Drbuddylee

    Great topic and I like the book you suggested. Thanks for the post