There have been some fine academic arguments as to what inspires trust in others. Thankfully, Burke and his research team summarized a thirty year debate concluding that all models of trust could be boiled down to three pillars:
The pillar of ability refers to our professional competence to fulfill the core task of leadership; delivering results. You can be as nice as you want and honest and caring, but if you keep letting me down in terms of delivery, your trustworthiness will be shot.
The second pillar of integrity refers to the extent to which we ‘walk the talk’. We need to be reliable in our behaviors and consistently live up to the values and standards we have set for ourselves and the organization.
The third pillar of benevolence refers to our concern for the well-being of others. We show our good wishes to others through care, generosity and kindness.
As another of the CEOs I interviewed put it, “The most powerful destroyer of trust is when you feel the other person is acting in their own best interest and not in yours”.