Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Contemporary research suggests that we can better influence the safety-related opinions, attitudes, and actions of others when we have a large degree of expertise and trustworthiness. In other words, credibility helps leaders become more persuasive. However, the individual who is trusted, is more influential than the person who is not trusted; even though he or she may be viewed as an expert.
Interesting, isn’t it?
The bottom line – when it comes to influencing safety-related attitudes and actions, trust is more important than expertise.
If you want to build trust, you have to truly care about people by creating the right climate and culture for safety. You have to spend time with others helping them, and working with them to improve safety, regularly. You have to “walk the talk” with resources and resolve – being consistent in what you say and ultimately do.
As leaders, we need to build trust without our personal and self-seeking agenda getting in the way. We can’t rely on threats, coercion, or punishment for substantial change. That will largely dissolve trust.
Don’t worry about how much you know or may not know, communicate to those around you the importance of working safely for themselves, their co-workers, and their loved ones. Work with them and "get dirty" with them. Speak from your heart because you care, and because you’ve built-up your side of the trust ledger.
Showing care and concern is about working diligently to help others remain safe and whole. Your hard work with others will build trust and help you to become a more influential safety leader.