Have you ever thought about how important trust is in your personal and professional lives? How trustworthy are you? What does it mean when we say we can be trusted? In any situation, your influence is enormous if you are trusted. However, if you are not trusted, it doesn’t matter what your title is or how much authority you are supposed to have; your influence is virtually zero.

You see, when you can be trusted, it means that you can be relied upon. Relied upon to do the right thing, whatever that might be. You build trust by freely sharing information that is timely, accurate, objective and complete. You build trust by keeping your word; doing what you say you will do; when you say you will do it. How can you trust anyone who is mostly talk and no action? How can you trust someone who doesn’t live up to his or her commitments?

Trust is a fragile thing. It must be earned, and re-earned. Even small omissions or errors can damage it very quickly. If you are trustworthy, it says a lot about your character. It means you have integrity-your values and your behavior are aligned, and you stand up for what you believe in.

If you make a mistake, you don’t cover it up or try to make it look like someone else’s fault, even if it’s going to make you look bad. When you make decisions, you make them after thoughtfully considering alternatives and consequences. When you are trusted, other people listen to you, ask for your advice, and feel confident that you can be relied upon. When you are worthy of that trust, you feel accountable to use your influence responsibly.

Think about it: Who do you trust, and why? Who has placed his or her trust in you? What do you do to justify that trust? Work hard to make trust part of your core values. What would you think working for, or around someone, who was 95% trustworthy? Any quality professional can tell you that this is not that good. Trust and honesty has to be at the core of your thoughts and actions.