Young Leader // People Won’t Follow You Until They Trust You

TRUSTAs young leaders, we often get the idea of leading and influence wrong.

Somewhere along the line, we’ve been convinced that leading means we tell people what to do and they follow willingly. We have this concept in our head that they’ll follow us because they have to or because we have a title.

The result of that thinking is that we fail to really lead people from a place of influence and care, only from a place of being their boss and them having to follow us.

As we know, real leadership is influence. Influence never comes without trust.

So, instead of us spending time convincing people they have to follow us, we should invest time in building trust in the people we’ve been stewarded with leading. Sure, it will take longer for people to “fall in line,” but once they do, them trusting us will accomplish so much more than if they’re being told they have to.

Spend time building trust and influence, not in getting people to do what you want them to do.

That’s what it’s really all about anyway. It’s not about us or our agenda, it’s about other people and how we can help them succeed.

The Law of Leading: Relationship > Trust > Influence > Leading


  1. Have you read “The Mentor Leader” by Tony Dungy? I read it a few years ago, and I’m going through it with 2 different groups of guys now (one group of men in prison, and another group of teenage boys). This perspective of leadership (= influence) is common throughout the book.

      1. Yes. I think it’s a pretty prevalent idea. Us as young leaders can often forget about it though. It’s a lot tougher to lead from this place than position, but totally worth it.

        Thanks man!

  2. Trust is key to any kind of leadership. I just look at it this way – I wouldn’t follow a leader I don’t trust, so I can’t expect people to follow me if they don’t trust me.

  3. Good word, Jonathan. Trust is built over time. Young leaders have a tendency for impatience and arrogance. A willingness to invest the time necessary to build trust and humility are crucial.

    Lead by example and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Delegation is vital in ministry, but you’ve gotta roll up your sleeves too. More seasoned/experienced leaders might seem to have less variety in their work, but that’s because they were in the trenches for years.


Join the Conversation