all resources & insights

52 Quotes about Trust and Leadership

by | Mar 25, 2024

This post was originally published June, 2015 and most recently updated March, 2024.

Now more than ever, the very first job of a leader is to inspire trust. In a chaotic and complex world, stakeholders look for credibility and stability in their leadersa port in the storm. So trust is the single most essential element to our ability to deliver extraordinary results in an enduring way.  

Trust leads to high-performance because it enables an organization to work as it should; it’s the first defense against dysfunction and the first step towards delivering better outcomes. 

As we work to continuously improve our leadership, we are inspired by the thought leadership of others who also revere building trust as a critical mission. So we’ve compiled a collection of quotes about trust and leadership that can help us on our leadership journey.

These insights celebrate the importance of trust itself, as well as many of the practices that leaders can use to build itsuch as mastering their craft, leading by example, cultivating competence, connecting with their purpose, authentically embodying a clear codevaluing people, leading with integrityempowering people, listening exquisitely, and championing an abundant approach that is both tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people. 

Given the importance of trust, especially today, it comes as no surprise that this roundup of trust quotes has been among our most popular posts ever. So we’ve updated it with five new bonus quotes from ConantLeadership Founder, Doug Conant. Enjoy!

1. “Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” – SETH GODIN Twitter-Bird Small

2. “For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth.” – BO BENNETT Twitter-Bird Small

3. “A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts.” – HAROLD MACMILLAN Twitter-Bird Small

4. “I believe fundamental honesty is the keystone of business.” – HARVEY FIRESTONE Twitter-Bird Small

5. “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – STEPHEN R. COVEY Twitter-Bird Small

6. “By the standards of the rest of the world, we overtrust. So far it has worked very well for us.” – CHARLIE MUNGER Twitter-Bird Small

7. “Trust starts with trustworthy leadership. It must be built into the corporate culture.” – BARBARA BROOKS KIMMEL Twitter-Bird Small

8. “The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time.” – STEPHEN M.R. COVEY Twitter-Bird Small

9. “Your words and deeds must match if you expect employees to trust in your leadership.” – KEVIN KRUSE Twitter-Bird Small

10. “You have to create a culture where everybody has an opportunity to be recognized.”  JOHN MACKEY Twitter-Bird Small

11.”The best thing you can do to help others take responsibility is to authentically practice the behaviors that you want others to practice.”  DR. MICHELLE REINA Twitter-Bird Small

12. “Do the right thing. Always.” – TED COINÉ Twitter-Bird Small

13.  “I wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.” – INDRA NOOYI Twitter-Bird Small

14. “Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability. Be transparent with your team, even when the truth may be unpopular or inconvenient.” BILL GEORGE Twitter-Bird Small

15. “It takes a great man to be a good listener.” – CALVIN COOLIDGE Twitter-Bird Small

16. “The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.” – MOTHER TERESA Twitter-Bird Small

17. “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” – OSCAR WILDE Twitter-Bird Small

18. “When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” – HOWARD SCHULTZ Twitter-Bird Small

19. “Conviction, commitment, credibility: the three pillars of morally courageous leadership.” – GENERAL JOHN MICHEL Twitter-Bird Small

20. “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” – NAPOLEON HILL Twitter-Bird Small

21. “Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people.” – BARBARA BUSH Twitter-Bird Small

22. “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  THEODORE ROOSEVELT Twitter-Bird Small

23. “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” ELEANOR ROOSEVELT Twitter-Bird Small

24. “Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently.” – LANCE SECRETAN Twitter-Bird Small

25. “He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted.” – LAO TZU Twitter-Bird Small

26. “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – BRYANT MCGILL Twitter-Bird Small

27. “The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.” – HENRY L. STIMSON Twitter-Bird Small

28. “Be sure you put your feet in the right place. Then stand firm.” – ABRAHAM LINCOLN Twitter-Bird Small

29. “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – OPRAH WINFREY Twitter-Bird Small

30. “Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”  – WARREN BENNIS Twitter-Bird Small

31. “Success is more permanent when you achieve it without destroying your principles.” – WALTER CRONKITE Twitter-Bird Small

32. “To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” – GEORGE MACDONALD Twitter-Bird Small

33. “Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.” – MARIAN ANDERSON Twitter-Bird Small

34. “It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one.” – ZIG ZIGLAR Twitter-Bird Small

35. “Vulnerability is not weakness.” – BRENÉ BROWN Twitter-Bird Small

36. “The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionably integrity.” – DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER Twitter-Bird Small

37. “The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – GENERAL COLIN POWELL Twitter-Bird Small

38. “Earn your leadership every day.” – MICHAEL JORDAN Twitter-Bird Small

39. “Great leaders check their ego at the door and empower others to excel” – DEBORAH GILLIS Twitter-Bird Small

40. “Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean.” – MIGUEL ÁNGEL RUIZ Twitter-Bird Small

41. “Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.” – JIM ROHN Twitter-Bird Small

42. “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – BOOKER T. WASHINGTON Twitter-Bird Small

43. “Contrary to what most people believe, trust is not some soft, illusive quality that you either have or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create.” STEPHEN M.R. COVEY Twitter-Bird Small

44. “Authenticity and knowing who you are is fundamental to being an effective and long-standing leader.” – ANN FUDGE Twitter-Bird Small

45. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – GANDHI Twitter-Bird Small

46. “Always tell the truth or the truth will tell on you.” – FRANK SONNENBERG Twitter-Bird Small

47. “The most important thing about leadership is your character and the values that guide your life.” – BRENDA BARNES Twitter-Bird Small

48. “Business is about people, and your reputation is built on how you treat people.” – BRUCE RAUNER Twitter-Bird Small

49. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”  DALAI LAMA Twitter-Bird Small

50. “The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.” – ALBERT EINSTEIN Twitter-Bird Small

51. “Be prepared and be honest.” – JOHN WOODEN Twitter-Bird Small

52. “Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people.” – STEPHEN R. COVEY Twitter-Bird Small

Five Additional Bonus Quotes on Trust from ConantLeadership Founder, Doug Conant

1. “Trust starts small and gets big. It’s not a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have.”-DOUG CONANT, Page 199, The Blueprint Twitter-Bird Small

2. “To gain the confidence of others, you must know what you are doing (demonstrating competence) and do what you say you are going to do (displaying character). There is no way around it.” – DOUG CONANT, Page 200, The Blueprint Twitter-Bird Small

3. “Few things are more important to a leader’s character, and their ability to lead effectively, than being able to listen well—both to individuals in one-on-one conversations, and to the larger organization in general.” – DOUG CONANT, Page 279, The Blueprint Twitter-Bird Small

4. “When things go wrong, instead of spreading blame, spread accountability . . . the quickest and surest way to lose trust is failing to take responsibility.” – DOUG CONANT, Page 253, The Blueprint Twitter-Bird Small 

5. “It’s clear that as you work to develop your leadership craft, you must inspire trust at every step along the way. You really have no choice. Your entire suite of leadership behaviors depends on it.” – DOUG CONANT, Page 199, The Blueprint Twitter-Bird Small

Did we leave out any of your favorite quotes on trust and leadership? What quotes would you add to this list? 

Want to learn more about trust and leadership?

Join us at the next BLUEPRINT Boot Camp by ConantLeadership, a 2-day virtual leadership intensive which offers elite-level, highly interactive training with Doug Conant and a community of your peers.

This immersive leadership development experience is centered around the structured 6-step Blueprint process for reflection and learning that empowers you to lead like only you can.

You’ll leave with your own personal leadership model, actionable practices for making a difference, VIP access to Doug Conant, and a new lease on living a joyful and fulfilling leadership life.

Looking for more leadership insights?

  • Register for our next FREE Blueprint Leadership Summit here
  • Explore our full suite of written resources here
  • Engage with ConantLeadership’s suite of video resources
  • Get your free first chapter of The Blueprint here. 
  • Take our leadership competence quiz here

(Photo Credit: Terry Johnston via Flickr Creative Commons under this license). 

Doug Conant is remarkable—and so is this work.
– Stephen M. R. Covey
Author of The Speed of Trust

The Blueprint

The Blueprint

6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights

By Douglas Conant with Amy Federman

Have Doug Speak at Your Event

Doug works collaboratively with event organizers to customize his material for each audience.