Trust Building 102: Be Genuine

(Note: This is the third article in a series on the topic Building Trust to Stop Conflict Before It Starts.)

Leadership articles today use the buzzword “authenticity”.

Why must leaders be authentic (or genuine, as I call it)?  Before people trust us, they want to know what we’re about and whether we are true to our message.  

How do you develop and communicate authenticity? In his article, What Is Authentic Leadership? Do You Have It?, Ronald E. Riggio PhD shares four components of authentic leadership: 

  1. Self-awareness ("Know Thyself")
  2. Relational Transparency ("Be Genuine")
  3. Balance Processing ("Be Fair Minded")
  4. Internalized Moral Perspective ("Do the Right Thing")

Self-awareness of our motivations and desires helps us adjust these to stay true to God, ourselves, and others. The psalmist prayed, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts". (Psalm 139:23)

Transparency involves sharing something of ourselves and our struggles with others, rather than merely projecting an image. It helps others see us as more human and trustworthy.

Balanced processing involves being fair in interactions with others. Teamwork runs more smoothly when others can count on your fairness.

Internalized moral perspective means maintaining integrity and staying true to values regardless of the circumstance or pressure to cave. This approach doesn't seek conflict but also doesn't avoid necessary conflict. Jesus brought peace and reconciliation through God without compromising the truth of the Gospel.

What happens if you don't seem genuine to others? People won't trust you. Relationships stagnate in superficiality. You may manage your image more than reveal your real self in a futile attempt to avoid criticism or frankly, just to get your own way.

On the other hand, what happens if you embrace relational transparency and present yourself genuinely? Yes, you will be more vulnerable to hurt, disappointment and not always getting what you want. However, in the not-so-long run, people will trust you, follow you, and admire you more.

So here is my challenge to you this week: share a personal or spiritual struggle with others. (Not your deepest darkest secret; just something that helps others know you struggle too!)

You will find that a genuine approach fosters trusting relationships which in turn helps stop conflicts before they start!

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