What I’m Reading: Build Your Reputation as a Trustworthy Leader

By Lyn Turknett

Co-founder & Co-chair, Turknett Leadership Group

Harvard Business Review
Build Your Reputation as a Trustworthy Leader.
by Ron Carucci

June 11, 2021
Over twenty years ago I read a journal article by Linda Trevino and colleagues entitled Moral Person and Moral Leader: How Leaders Develop a Reputation for Ethical Leadership. That article had a huge influence on my thinking – leaders not only need to lead with integrity; they need to actively seek to build a reputation for ethical leadership.

Ron Carucci, author of this article, has just completed a 15 year study of organizational honesty and published a book,  To Be Honest: Lead with the Power of Truth, Justice, and Purpose, and he builds on those ideas. As he says, “reliability and integrity are merely table stakes,” and leaders must work at building trust daily. He has found that these four practices help leaders earn trust:

  • Be who you say you are.
  • Treat others and their work with dignity.
  • Balance transparency with discretion.
  • Build bridges that unify.

He has specific advice under each broad practice, but there are two I know to be particularly true:

Embody your stated values.

One of the things I like most about the work of Dan Ariely is that he helps us all be humble. His work on cheating shows that we are all prone to fudge at times, and tells us also that the best way to keep that from happening is to be clear about our values and remind ourselves of them frequently. I like the idea of writing a short list of your most important values, looking at them at the beginning of the day, and reflecting at the end of the day whether you stayed true or not.

Be fascinated by others.

We are all amazing. We’ve had dramatic improvements in artificial intelligence, but nothing comes close to the complexity and ability of an actual human. Learn the stories of those you work with. Be fascinated and amazed.