Building Trust – Striving for the Perfect 10

If you’ve watched “Dancing with the Stars,” you’ve seen that it can be challenging to get a score of 10. Some of us are old enough to remember Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast who was the first person to ever receive a perfect 10 at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Achieving a perfect score isn’t easy. As a high school gymnastics coach (with multiple state championship teams and several All-American gymnasts), the highest score my athletes achieved was a 9.6 on the vault.

I’ve been studying leadership for 33 years and have found that just like “Dancing with the Stars,” gymnastics or other challenging endeavors, individuals who excel share something in common. They pay close attention to fundamentals, they practice diligently, and they are committed to continuous improvement.

To achieve success in business requires attention and dedication to essential fundamentals. “Star” business leaders build winning teams by creating a culture of trust. Building a culture of trust requires conscious awareness and continual dedication to basic leadership principles. Based on my experience working with business leaders and executives, outlined below are the 10 key elements leaders use to build a culture of trust:

  1. Personal Integrity. Demonstrating ethical behavior is the foundation of building trust.
  2. Actions Consistent with Words. It’s important to “walk the talk.”
  3. Respect for Others. Acknowledging and valuing others helps create a culture of trust. 
  4. Active Listening. Successful leaders listen carefully and ask questions.
  5. Team Player. Great leaders include others in group decisions, actions and activities.
  6. Acting Responsibly. This demonstrates maturity and strong moral values.           
  7. Initiative and Innovation. High performing leaders continually seek new ideas, demonstrate personal initiative and innovation.
  8. Maintain a Positive Attitude. Effective leaders remain positive – even during challenging times.
  9. Continuous Self-Improvement. Highly successful leaders and are lifelong learners and dedicated to developing their skills.
  10. Results. The bottom line does matter! Focusing on outcomes and achieving results are important behaviors of the most trusted leaders

Now comes the interesting and challenging part. Using the attached scale that measures the 10 fundamental elements to building trust, rate yourself on each element on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being the bottom score and 5 the perfect score.

Next, add up your scores and divide by 10 to get your “average” score. Finally, look carefully at all of your scores. Any scores that are a 3 or less suggests areas for improvement.

While it may not be possible to get a “perfect” score, it is possible to improve your scores. The most successful dancers, gymnasts and business leaders work tirelessly to achieve the highest levels of competency. You can improve your competency as a leader by developing your skills on the 10 elements that help to build trust.