Trust: The Foundation of Influence

If someone has earned your trust, he or she has the potential to influence you. You have the potential to influence those who trust you. But without trust, influence is next to impossible.

Fundamental to being influential is the ability to build deep and lasting relationships founded on Trust. If someone has earned your trust, he or she has the potential to influence you. You have the potential to influence those who trust you. But without trust, influence is next to impossible.

Nowhere is the importance of trust more evident than in today’s work and economic environment. Trust in government and institutions is at an all-time low. The call every day in the media for transparency and authenticity is the reaction to a perceived lack of openness and honesty. Suspicion of those who lead these organizations is the natural fall-out. An organization or person unwilling to make the commitment to build trusting relationships has limited chance of long-term success.

Creating a culture in which trust is the highest value now is recognized as the most critical role of the contemporary leader. Leaders who are truly influential understand that power comes not from their position, but from their ability to inspire others to commit to a common goal. However inspiration—the engagement of the human spirit—is only possible when employees know their leaders are trustworthy.

Speaking about trust and having trust as a written core value is not enough. Trust is the result of how others see us behave —we are judged by our actions.

There are Four Core Elements that build trust:

  1. Being Straightforward: Did I speak my truth?
  2. Being Open: Did I speak up?
  3. Being Accepting: Did I focus on the task?
  4. Being Reliable: Did I do what I promised?

Because we are both different and human, we are not all the same in regard to how we measure up to these elements. Inevitably we have strengths and weaknesses. But if we desire to maximize our influence, we need to be practicing all four. An investment of time, money, and energy, therefore, in examining where we are strong in building trust and determining where we could improve has the potential for returning enormous dividends.

Influential salespeople are able to drive more business from existing clients and open the doors of previously unavailable prospects. Influential leaders are able to significantly increase performance through their ability to harness the talents and gain the commitment and collaboration of their teams.

In my book, “The Eagle’s Secret,” I quote Nirmalya Kumar, a visiting professor at the London School of Business: “What distinguishes trusting from distrusting relationships is the ability of the parties to make a leap of faith. They believe that each is interested in the other’s welfare and that neither will act without first considering the action’s impact on the other.”

Building influence, therefore, is not a management or sales “technique.” Influence results from a personal commitment to demonstrating every day the attitudes and behaviors that earn trust rather than destroy it.

David McNally, CPAE, is the CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of TransForm Corporation ( Elected to the Speakers Hall of Fame by the National Speakers Association (NSA), McNally is the author of the bestselling books, “Even Eagles Need a Push—Learning to Soar in a Changing World,” “The Eagle’s Secret—Success Strategies for Thriving at Work and in Life,” and “The Push—Unleashing the Power of Encouragement.” His co-authored book, “Be Your OWN Brand,” is used by many business schools to address the importance of building a strong personal brand. McNally’s books have been translated into 12 different languages and developed into corporate training programs that have been released in more than 20 countries. TransForm works with organizations to develop purposeful leaders who build inspired organizations and iconic brands. Clients include Ameriprise, Areva, Conway, Delta Airlines, Pulte Homes, and Thrivent. For more information, visit or e-mail