By Steve Adubato PhD

It’s hard enough to lead successfully when times are good, but when times get challenging or uncertain, a leader will find it much harder to succeed and get team members to stay on board and remain loyal if he or she has not established trust. Yet, trust is a very complex thing. It’s so hard to achieve but so easy to lose, and once you lose it, it seems so hard to

get it back. But how exactly do leaders lose the trust of people around them? Consider a few ways, which all of us as leaders should avoid:

--Throwing a team member under the bus. One of the quickest ways for a leader to lose trust is to decide he or she is going to blame someone on the team instead of stepping up when things go wrong. Conversely, one of the most important things a leader can do is be accountable, be responsible, take the hit, stand up to the firestorm, and own it—all of it. No excuses, no caveats, no finger pointing, and no scapegoating.

--Refusing to share credit. Too many leaders think, because they hold the top position in the organization, it is their job to have their name on every report and their right to get credit for everything within the organization. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Often, when leaders refuse to spread credit around they lose the trust of their team members who have no desire to see such a leader succeed, because clearly he or she has no interest in the success of anyone else. Smart leaders know that other people want to be recognized in the same way that they do and share the credit.

--Failing to be upfront and avoiding difficult conversations. Because circumstances can change so rapidly in our organizations and in life, an important lesson in leadership is to confront these difficult conversations directly. Avoiding them only guarantees a build-up of distrust and resentment. Truly great leaders understand that having these difficult conversations, as painful as they may be, increases the odds of maintaining trust even if their people aren’t happy with them or with how things turn out.

--Refusing to listen and being stubborn about your point of view. Want to lose the trust of your people? Then insist that you are right all of the time. Some of the worst leaders confuse stubbornness with being principled. If you want to lose the trust of the people around you, make sure your ideas are the only ones being heard—not listening to your team and their ideas will do the trick.

When it comes to maintaining trust, what leadership pitfalls do YOU think leaders should avoid? Write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..