The Law of Solid Ground

Trust is the foundation of leadership. — John C. Maxwell
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Reflections on John C. Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”

My career in learning and development was taking off. Without studying human resources or hospitality, I found myself in the middle of this industry and falling in love with the ability to help others realize their more profound potential.

I was given autonomy to create programs that went outside the traditional norms of training. My leader trusted me, wholeheartedly, and vice versa. My career felt stable on this solid ground, and it was this trust that propelled me to advance further in my field.

All employees want to feel as though they can trust their boss. They want to be able to speak candidly about operations they disagree with, be asked their opinion on processes, and know they can have a life outside the walls of work.

Solid ground is only established among employees when the leader extends the effort to build a relationship. If the leader does not take an interest in those he or she is leading; then trust is going to be impossible to attain.


Author Stephen M. R. Covey has an excellent process for developing trust with others. He recommends always starting with yourself. Find your credibility then declare your intent towards building the relationship. Let the other person know you desire confidence. Prepare to listen when asking the other person three behaviors that are important to him or her to build that trust. Then share your three most important behaviors and commit to keeping those behaviors with each other. Through this commitment, you will begin to build trust, or as Maxwell puts it, gain “change” in your pocket. The more confidence you make, the more “change” you have, but the more time you break your commitments, the more you payout to the other.


A lack of trust will destroy the grounding of any person, department, or organization. After my trusted leader left our company, she was replaced by a less trusting leader, and I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Everything we worked to build was crumbling down as the lack of trust stripped the solid ground from under our team.

Without trust, your employees will not follow you. They will work to the bare minimum while looking for other areas of employment. Building trust takes time, creativity, and effort. If you want to build a culture of authenticity, it begins with trust.

The Storytether

Trust is a part of your character as a leader. The more commitment you keep, the more trust you have — the more character you build. As a leader, tether yourself to trust promises. Build every relationship in the spirit of transparency.

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