Empowering Leadership through Trust


Warren Buffet said “A leader is someone who can get things done through other people” and this doesn’t mean enforcing your power on them or just telling them what to do. Some leaders believe that their power is a bi-product of their title; this is what I like to call ‘Status Leadership’. It is imposed and not earned. What I will be discussing in this piece is what I call ‘Empowering Leadership’, a power and authority that are the result of a lot of investment in oneself, as a leader, but mainly in others.


“Leaders are only as strong as the connections they make with each person in their constituency.” This is what Tom Rath and Barry Conchie wrote about in their book “Strengths Based Leadership” which is founded on a research conducted by Gallup, the research-based, global performance-management consulting company. All leadership research up to that point was focusing on the leader himself, asking leaders why they believe they are successful. A key component missing in all past research was the follower. So Gallup decided to go out there and ask followers why they follow certain leaders based on the impact that these leaders have on them and the opinion the followers have of the leaders. Gallup basically set out to examine “why people follow.”


The formal study was conducted between 2005 and 2008. It looked at a true random sampling population of more than 10,000 followers who were contacted via The Gallup Poll. The research was anchored in this key question:


“What leader has the most positive influence in your daily life?” “Now please list three words that best describe what this person contributes to your life.”


The people responding to the poll were asked to use their own words to describe the leader’s contribution and were not given a list of words to choose from in order not to skew the opinions in a specific direction. It is important here to note the use of the term “positive”. The research was based on leaders that have a “positive” influence on followers and not a negative one. As Peter Drucker said, “The three greatest leaders of the twentieth century were Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. If that’s leadership I want no part of it.”


These were the results that Gallup found:

“Upon completion of our initial surveys, we studied the 25 most commonly mentioned words. To our surprise, many of the “usual suspects” like purpose, wisdom, humor, and humility were nowhere near the top of the list.

As we continued to review the descriptors, distinct patterns started to emerge. In some cases, more than 1000 people had listed the exact same word, without any categories or options provided. Given that there are more than 170,000 words in the English language, this was impressive. It seems that followers have a very clear picture of what they want and need from the most influential leaders in their lives: trust, compassion, stability and hope.”




So trust came out at no. 1! This means that as a leader, if you have strong relationships built on trust you can go very far. In another poll conducted by Gallup, it was revealed that there is only 1 in 12 chances for the employees to be engaged at work when they don’t trust the company’s leaders.


This clearly establishes how important trust is in leadership. But how can a leader gain the trust of his followers? Ask yourself this question: what makes me trust or distrust someone else? In other words, if you were the follower, what would make you trust your leader?

Most people would agree that trust is the result of honesty, authenticity, transparency, integrity, vulnerability, courage and walking the talk. To support this, the Gallup survey shows as evidence that “respect, integrity and honesty are the outcomes of strong relationships built on trust”. Vulnerability, not to be confused with weakness, means that the leader is not afraid of showing their raw truth and they have the courage to admit their mistakes. Walking the talk allows followers to see that the leader has no hidden agenda and is someone who actually does what they tell everyone else to do; they are a living example of everything they preach under their leadership umbrella.


Which brings us back to the concept I introduced earlier of “Empowering Leadership”; in a nutshell, it is genuine and authentic leadership built on honesty, integrity, vulnerability, courage and trust. It is the type of leadership that builds long-term relationships and has a strong impact on followers. It empowers them and creates loyalty. As Dr. Brené Brown said in her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are’, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Make that choice today and become an ‘Empowering Leader’!


About Rawan Albina:

Rawan Albina is a successful self-made Executive and Leadership Coach who has coached more than 150 individuals from 60 different nationalities all over the Middle East; from middle management to chief executives. She is one of the eleven Professional Certified Coaches (PCC) in the Middle East today. She served for 10 years as a manager and leader with multinationals Tetra Pak and Nestlé. She is passionate about Personal Branding as it perfectly combines her marketing background and coaching expertise. Rawan had her career breakthrough as a coach, trainer and motivational speaker delivering diverse programs to market leaders in the MENA region in English, Arabic and French. She also mentors MBA students and is a registered mentor coach with the ICF. Rawan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics and is a graduate of the prestigious Coaches Training Institute. Rawan is certified in the FIRO and WPB5 assessment tools. She is a proud member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC).

Website: www.rawanalbina.com

LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/rawanalbina

Twitter: @RawanAlbina


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