As leaders we rely a great deal on trust and yet here are the quickest ways we break that trust.

And before you tell me, “But Sehaam, I don’t do that!” check yourself because the research tells us we all do it.

Lies and deception

It’s so pervasive and we have a propensity to lie, apparently 1-2 times a day, usually harmless excuses or lies to protect someone’s feelings or cover up our own insecurities. And we’re gullible. We’re not very good at detecting a lie, and sometimes we want to be lied to. But the top reasons we lie are to cover up a mistake, followed by financial and personal gain, to avoid people, and to create a better impression of ourselves.

Hidden agendas and nasty surprises

We do this by deception or distraction, we dodge questions, gate-crash meetings just so we’re seen, claim other people’s hard work as our own, or charm someone into being a scape-goat or owning a mistake.

False praise and compliments

We know it because our words don’t match our body language and facial expressions. You may think you’ve got away with it but no, the other person feels it.

Incompetence and absentee leadership

Incompetence is a major cause of distrust because, at a primal level, it puts our survival at risk. Absentee leadership is when you show up to work but don’t do very much. We certainly wouldn’t trust a boss like this to support us or advocate for us.

Blaming, finger-pointing and shaming

When we do this, we’re effectively stripping away someone’s dignity. These can be overt and public or they can happen in private.

Exclusion, intentional and unintentional

Intentional exclusion is the worst. We do it when we fear losing the opportunity to shine and claim the credit.

Misrepresentation or falsely claiming someone else’s work

People tell me they worry their boss will not represent them fairly at a meeting with important stakeholders and decision-makers. Or equally unsettling, that their boss or a peer might take credit for the work of their team.

And finally…

Disrespecting someone’s time and effort

Rocking up late to a meeting, missing the meeting without telling us, rescheduling at the last minute for no reason or a low priority reason. And equally not thanking someone for their time and effort. Costs nothing to say “Thank you.”

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