Leadership reliability: Internal and external

Leaders with internal reliability are ideally suited for the multifaceted role of mentor, trusted adviser, and coach. Because they are consistently true to their ethically sound beliefs and principles, they make exemplary role models in the workplace. Interestingly, in research conducted by Dale Carnegie Training, it was determined that the biggest emotional trigger for employee motivation is trust. However, other research tells us that as many as 40% of employees don’t trust management. So what’s the remedy? Leaders with internal reliability!

In the Dale Carnegie Leadership Training for Managers program, there are seven steps in coaching:

  • Identify opportunities
  • Picture the desired outcome
  • Establish the right attitudes
  • Provide resources
  • Practice and skill development
  • Reinforce progress
  • Reward

Who better than a leader with internal reliability to walk a team member through these steps? Employees are much more likely to respond to direction from someone who is confident, cooperative, optimistic, and supportive. Leaders with internal reliability have all of those characteristics and more. They create a culture of trust within their teams, and consequently are able to gain the commitment of each team member to work toward common goals. These leaders listen to their employees’ ideas and concerns. They lead by example. They are grateful for their employees. They learn from their mistakes and they take responsibility for them. In short? They are to their team what Aaron Rogers is to his — they’re the most valuable player. Every. Single. Time.

It would serve organizations well to cultivate leaders with internal reliability. They’re the ones qualified for shaping the leaders of tomorrow. Trust begets trust.

What then, exactly, is external reliability? In contrast to a leader with internal reliability (someone who is consistently true to his/her own principles and beliefs), leaders with external reliability are honest and trustworthy to others. While it’s important to hold firmly to personal values, leaders are less likely to accomplish goals without the trust of those around them.



Trust. The word can be a noun or a verb, but it’s important to note that in business it’s a relationship. You’ve heard it many times — you need to build trust with clients, your peers, and your direct reports — and in the work place that translates to solidifying your relationships. Leaders with external reliability have laid the groundwork for this reciprocity their entire working careers. They have earned trust — in spades.

External reliability may not be the only characteristic that a leader needs to keep his or her employees happy, but in the 2016 Dale Carnegie Leadership Study it was revealed that when a leader lacks external reliability, just 4% of his or her employees are satisfied with their jobs. When employees have a leader who can be truthful with others, job satisfaction jumps to 39%. So clearly, having a leader who can be trusted is important.

So the million-dollar question is, “How do you earn the trust of others?” Sadly, no one’s winning a million dollars because there’s no pat answer. Trust is not just earned, it’s built. It’s a process. An ongoing process. In order to gain external reliability, a leader must consistently take the ethical and moral high road. One could actually conclude that to have external reliability, a leader must first possess internal reliability because when you are true to your principles, people notice. In a good way!

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