Everyone deserves to work for a trustworthy boss. Unfortunately, in today’s business world, that seems to be the exception rather than the norm.
Cases in point: One survey depressingly shows that 82% of people don’t trust their boss to tell the truth, and other research shows that people are more likely to trust a stranger than their boss.
How do you know if your boss is trustworthy? Look at her actions. When it comes to trust, the old adage that “actions speak louder than words” is absolutely true. Here is a list of ten ways to evaluate the trustworthiness of your boss. As you read, keep a mental tally of how many criteria your boss meets. Respond to the poll at the end of the article to get a sense of how your boss compares to others. For more information, download our free e-book Do Your Managers Build or Erode Trust?
10 Ways to Tell if Your Boss is Trustworthy
- Your boss demonstrates strong task knowledge and skills. A leader who possesses sufficient expertise in her role inspires confidence and trust in others. People trust bosses who can provide direction and support to help them perform well at work. It doesn’t mean the boss has to be the ultimate expert in everything under the sun, but the boss does need to have a sufficient grasp of the worker’s job to help them solve problems.
- Your boss has a track record of achieving results. Trustworthy bosses consistently help their teams win. Whatever the definition of success for your team or organization, trustworthy leaders are those who regularly lead their teams to victory. Do you trust your boss to take you to the winner’s circle, or is your boss preventing your team from achieving success?
- Your boss is honest. Telling the truth, acting ethically, and being a person of integrity are nonnegotiable for being a trustworthy boss. If your boss likes to spin the truth, blame others, and practice situational ethics, then it’s pretty likely she violates the other nine items on this list.
- Your boss admits mistakes. Bosses who are willing to admit their mistakes display a level of humility and authenticity that inspires trust in their followers. Does your boss readily admit mistakes and accept responsibility, or does she look to shirk her responsibility, make excuses, or shift the blame?
- Your boss walks the talk. Trustworthy leaders act in alignment with personal and organizational values. These leaders are often role models for how others should behave and they take this responsibility seriously. Bosses who walk the talk have earned reputations of being authentic, genuine, and stand-up people.
- Your boss practices fairness. Fairness is not treating everyone the same regardless of the circumstances. Broad-brushing everyone with the same treatment can be one of the most unfair things a leader does. Being fair means treating people equitably and ethically given their specific circumstance. How does your boss measure up in this regard?
- Your boss cares about your well-being. Does your boss truly care about you as a person, or does she treat you as just another worker showing up to do a job? Trustworthy leaders care about their people. They take a personal interest in the lives of the people by getting to know about their hopes, dreams, and lives outside of work. Could your boss describe 3-5 things about your personal life, or would you be lucky if the boss remembered your name?
- Your boss acknowledges, encourages, praises, and advocates for you. Trustworthy bosses are cheerleaders for their people. They look for ways to help their team members grow, catch them doing things right, shine the light on their accomplishments, and stand up for them when they need support. Trustworthy bosses can be counted on to be there for their people whenever needed.
- Your boss follows-through on commitments. When your boss makes a commitment, what is your level of confidence that she will actually follow-through? Can you count on your boss to fulfill the commitment, or is it a pleasant surprise when it actually happens? Dependability is a key trait of trustworthy leaders. Is your boss dependable?
- Your boss is personally accountable and holds team members accountable. Good bosses set the example for their teams, and they hold themselves and others accountable to those standards. Do the expectations for your team apply to your boss as well, or is she allowed to live by a different set of rules? When team members aren’t carrying their weight, does the boss respectfully and appropriately address it, or is a blind-eye turned to the situation?
How Does Your Boss Compare?
Do you want to know how your boss compares to the bosses of other Leading with Trust readers? Add up the number of criteria your boss meets in the list above and choose the appropriate poll response. The cumulative results of the poll will display when you submit your answer.