Are You a Trustworthy Leader?

UPDATED: July 7, 2017
PUBLISHED: July 7, 2017

Alliances are tricky. Trickier in real life than on Survivor, even.

Research has come a long way in determining how and why we choose to rely on certain people more than others. But the bottom line is this: Humans naturally want to believe in each other. After all, we’re social creatures. Without social interaction, we wouldn’t survive. That was true in the Stone Age and it’s true now.

Related: A 4-Step Guide for Finding Your Allies​

So how do you go about finding people who will help you develop and grow? It starts with developing your instincts. This process usually begins as a child. We learn the rules of social interaction on the playground: Who is the bully? Who can be trusted? Who is looking out only for themselves?

But as we age and mature, that instinct isn’t so clear. Maybe the person you should distrust happens to be very charismatic, and you don’t see through that right away. Maybe the shy person who doesn’t speak much in meetings is actually someone who is willing to go to bat for you. The point is, there are many shades of gray when it comes to people.

The truth is, you’re just going to have to be burned a few times. It’s how we learn. Keep interacting with new people. Learn from them. Develop your people skills.

Related: 15 Trust-Building Practices for Leaders


This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

John Addison is the Leadership Editor for SUCCESS and the author of Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose, a Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller. Renowned for his insight and wisdom on leadership, personal development and success, John is a sought-after speaker and motivator. Read more on his blog, and follow John on Facebook and Twitter.