This is the last in a 12-part series is about the most basic—and vital—of leadership roles: Parenting. In my experience, it’s rarely discussed as leadership. Yet without sound parenting, no generation has any real hope of building capable bench strength of future leaders. The last four posts are based on data-driven principles found in Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath.


I once heard Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust, give a presentation on the book.

“Imagine the person in your life that you trust the least,” he said. “Now jot down some words or phrases that describe what life/work with that person was like.” Then, after a minute, “Now imagine the person in your life that you trust the most and describe what it was like to relate to that person.”

The audience participation afterward exposed the sharp contrast. When trust exists between people, everything works better and more efficiently.

When trust exists between people, everything works better and more efficiently.

From the early years when you promise to catch them jumping from the monkey bars to the to the teenage years when you’re talking through adult issues, you are sowing seeds of trust. These seeds grow slowly, require constant attention and cultivation, but will eventually blossom. When, where and how they blossom may surprise you, but they will. Because that’s what trust does—it can’t stay hidden.

But remember: For the fruit of trust to blossom, the seeds of trust have to be sown.

For the fruit of trust to blossom, the seeds of trust have to be sown.

“And Your Point Is…?”

The level of trustworthiness you model will also very likely be the trustworthiness they adopt for themselves.

No pressure, right?

So What?

Here are a few things that will make it easier for your kids to learn trust:

  • Keep your promises.
  • Be as consistent as you can.
  • Know and live out your values.
  • Don’t lie; ever. That doesn’t mean you have to reveal all the truth, but tell the truth. Said another way, don’t ever give your kids a reason to doubt you. They will come up with enough reasons (excuses) on their own, but ultimately your credibility will win the day and stand the test of time.
  • Be transparent. It’s okay not to be perfect; in fact, it’s probably better—it’ll relieve them of the pressure of trying to be perfect. When you make a mistake, own it and ask for forgiveness.
  • Be intentional. Try to avoid parenting by accident, or by being reactionary.

It’s okay not to be perfect; in fact, it’s probably better—it’ll relieve them of the pressure of trying to be perfect.

The Big Picture

In my opinion—with the exception of a life of faith—there is no greater parent-to-child legacy you can leave your kids than a life of trust: To know its importance, how to build and maintain it, and most importantly, how to trust others.

Your Next Step

Which of the bullet points above should you concentrate on most?

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