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What makes for great leadership? It used to be simply one of providing the best returns to shareholders, and so was focused on results, but we now realise that the other two Rs, reputation and relationships are equally important for a sustainable business – one centred on trust.

In his book, The Trusted Executive, executive coach John Blakey focuses on nine leadership habits that inspire these three Rs: nine leadership habits centred around building the trust that is so necessary for effective business leadership. After all, without trust customers will move, employees will leave, and investors will look elsewhere, too. It is no longer “profit first” in business.

The nine leadership habits, he says, are centred around three pillars:

Ability – this is about the leadership having the professional competence to effectively deliver the expected results for the business: not just financial, but all dimensions.

Integrity – this is really about leading from the front, setting the example and abiding by the standards they set for others.

Benevolence – or treating others with care, kindness and generosity; wanting the best for both employees and all stakeholders in the business.

Each of these three pillars has, in turn, three habits that leaders need to embrace.


These three habits will both build trust and enhance your leadership abilities:

  • Delivering – this is about not over-promising, then under-delivering, but being honest with yourself and others about what is possible, and ensuring you deliver on this. Delegation is a key factor here, so you don’t find yourself overwhelmed by myriad tasks and so unable to deliver effectively. Strive to over-deliver, to exceed expectations.
  • Coaching – using your own experience to empower others. Being open to discussing your journey and drawing on this to help them with theirs, listening to their questions and challenges.
  • Consistency – and while we all have good days and bad days, people expect leaders to be consistent. Don’t take out your bad days on others, as people will remember these. Show people they can rely on you at all times.


“Integrity is doing the right thing. Even when no-one is watching,” as C.S. Lewis said. The habits that build integrity are:

  • Honesty – not just with others, but as importantly, with yourself. Competitive people tend to exaggerate their abilities and successes. Don’t. If necessary, hire a coach to keep you accountable.
  • Openness – this can be very difficult for leaders, as it means displaying vulnerability when things are not going to plan. Be open about your concerns and fears, look for input on them and listen to those around you with a willingness to change course if necessary.
  • Humility – the old aggressive bulldog approach really does not give you a competitive edge. Leaders who show humility are more effective. Spend time with other lower-key people to reinforce this behaviour.


Although we think of this in a narrow way, as kindness, it actually goes much further, with the roots of the word coming from Latin meaning, in effect, wishing [somebody] well. These three habits can help you develop greater benevolence:

  • Evangelising – this is about spreading your (business) message; to your team, your customers and suppliers and to the world at large. Remember, too, that bad news always spreads more quickly than good news, so by spreading the good news about your brand you are pre-emptively countering any negativity that might occur. Living your values, mission and vision helps reinforce these with everyone.
  • Bravery – having the courage of your convictions is important, but bravery is also about having the courage to do the right things, even when they might not be popular, and about protecting the less-able. People will sometimes close ranks around somebody abusing their power – take action if this happens.
  • Kindness – to others, in thought, word and deed. Performing even small, thoughtful actions for others is noticed, and enhances the reputation of your business and you, too. As Aesop said, some 2500 years ago, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

So, adopting these habits makes sound business sense. Remember that more than 70% of investors believe high-trust cultures are essential for companies to increase market share and build value. The implementation of ESG (Environmental, Societal and Governance) reporting and scorecards has now become commonplace for listed companies, and is likely to become widespread with IFRS working on standards for it.


#BusinessFitness #Business #Coaching #Delegation #Excellence #Governance #Leadership #Success #Teams #Trust #Valuations


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