Trust, Honesty and Respect. You Build It One On One.

How Do Great Leaders Build Trust, Honesty and Respect? | Leadership Dynamics

Think about this for a minute, which people do you trust the most?

Those with whom you comment on their Facebook status and “Like” the snaps of what they ate for breakfast, or those with whom you sit down and really discuss things and are open with.

In the cracking pace that business life sets, we can often neglect this fact when it comes to leading our team.

When deadlines and demands are piling up, it’s easy to convince yourself that a quick joke passing in the hallway and an email or two from you stating your thoughts on various issues will be more than adequate to communicate with your team, and, if they can’t deal with it, then it’s their problem – we all have pressures!  And indeed we do, but as the Leader, it’s your responsibility to grow your team, to get them to follow you willingly, because they trust and respect you, so you can accomplish the goals set for your team.

To do this, you need to be effectively communicating with them and vice versa, knowing exactly what motivates them to get up in the morning, what’s going on for them in their world and you need to show you care about developing their skills and abilities and then set goals for their progress.  You can’t do this via email or a quick pleasantry in the office kitchen.  You must communicate One On One with a disciplined bi-monthly or monthly rhythm.

To build a successful organisation and to lead it to new heights, you do it One On One, i.e. you need to spend time one on one with each key member of your team on a regular basis so you know what makes them tick/what’s going on with them and to effectively communicate with them and they with you.

Over the last 20 years I’ve done 13,000 formal One On Ones.  It is a key strategy to earn trust so that people will willingly follow you.

Genuine care leads to genuine trust and respect.  If you have this, you will lead powerfully. (If you want to read my previous article on the power of One On Ones, click here.)

Why would anyone choose to follow you?

Do you have the trust of your team?



It’s extremely important you identify what the individual you are leading really wants and needs.  Humans are driven by wants and needs – it’s their motivation for getting out of bed each day. If their needs and wants are being met (within reason and in balance with the organisation) then you’ll create an extremely positive work environment.  The One On One process is very effective in discovering what these are.

Do you know what your team members want?  

Do you know what drives them?



Find the balance of being honest with the individual about issues you’re dealing with when it comes to their performance, with the opportunity for you to empower them and build them up through positivity and encouragement  (to do this most effectively, you need to know what drives them) and identify a life goal for them and the organisation.

Who do you have to be honest with?  

What do you have to be honest about?  

What goals have you identified that combine effectively for both the organisation and the individual you are leading?



An effective One On One requires the leader to really listen, making the individual feel heard and valued and to discern any potential push back and objections to possible solutions that are discussed.  A team member who feels valued and heard is generally a very productive team player.

Are you a good listener?  

What objections have you had to deal with during a recent One On One?

How do you feel when you are really listened to?



One On One leadership is the most effective leadership strategy to grow an individual and drive accountability and respect because it’s a formal process, i.e. a regular and set meeting time with an agenda, and with a formal summary provided in writing back to the individual who is being led One On One. The summary outlines in point form the problem issues, strategies and tasks that need to be implemented and leadership behaviours that need to be developed to help resolve the problem and set clear expectations about what needs to happen or further action will be required by the leader.  It also summarises the growth opportunities discussed and the strategies and tactics and leadership behaviours you both agreed to implement to achieve them.  Build them up in writing too!  It has a big impact.

And you as the Leader must respect the process; you must commit to it and drive it. Otherwise, why should your team? Once you get started you’ll build momentum to continue.

Have you implemented a formal One On One process in your organisation?

Do you provide formal written summaries back to the individual you’ve led One On One after the One On One process?


A disciplined weekly, bi-weekly or monthly rhythm is required for One On One’s to provide support in order to develop new effective leadership behaviours.

What One On One rhythm are you developing?  

What new effective leadership behaviours do you want to instil and develop with the One On One process?

What could you ask to determine what they think they could or would like to do to move things forward to solve a current problem?



1.     Discern what it is that the individual team member really wants to accomplish and encourage them to become fully committed to achieving them.

2.     Offer up new ways for your team member to be able to achieve their goals.

3.     Be able to discern what your team member needs to conquer to progress in their role.

4.     Ascertain the necessary skills, routines and behaviours the team member must acquire to triumph over the obstacles you discern so they can progress.

5.     Manage the delicate balance of endeavour, having an optimistic outlook, accepting reality and the requirement of the individual to commit to never giving up despite how challenging the problems they are facing might prove to be.  They need to do this so change can occur and they can develop and progress in their role.



To get the most out of One on Ones, it takes practise!  The more you do, the more effective you become and you will reap the benefits of your persistence! There are no shortcuts but here are some tips to focus on when you’re conducting your next One On One.  At all times you need to:

1.     Be optimistic, constructive, upbeat and encouraging.  You need to set the tone.  Set high expectations for your team member, as people often only do what’s expected.

2.     Be open and honest and always tell the truth.  It’s easy to pick a lie and when you’re caught, it will diminish your credibility instantly.

3.     Be open to new ideas from your team member to grow the business.  Your team can be full of great ideas – that’s why you have a team around you.

4.     Get going!  Get started on new ideas and don’t wait for the perfect time to start, as there never will be one. Set goals with your team member for their role in achieving the implementation of the new idea.

5.     Take into account the needs of both the individual and the organisation – it’s a delicate but important balance to make when conducting a One On One.

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