For Elected Officials: Developing Trust
Reprinted from Elected Officials Little Handbook

While trust is an essential ingredient for success in the local government setting, it does not come automatically with the position of either mayor or council member. In fact, colleagues may be suspicious of each other at first. To overcome that natural mistrust, elected officials are encouraged to adopt the following nine behaviors. Some on this list apply to those in mayoral positions or they can be used to advise other council members on how they can be more effective:

  1. Express your feelings. Let colleagues know what you care about and what bothers you. Openness in expressing your feelings builds trust.

  2. Put your public and hidden agendas on the table. Let your colleagues know what your important goals are as soon as politically feasible.

  3. Show that you have your colleagues interests in mind as well as your own. By showing that you respect their concerns, you will earn their goodwill and trust.

  4. Admit when you are wrong. While this is sometimes difficult, it conveys honesty and integrity.

  5. Help others to achieve their agendas by listening closely to colleagues and by surfacing and even promoting their agendas.

  6. Acknowledge colleagues for tasks well done, perhaps by a compliment for an action or a thank you for supporting an item.

  7. Get to know your colleagues. You will be spending a lot of time together. Try to get to know your colleagues important issues, concerns and values.

  8. Volunteer for subcommittees. Smaller groups are much more informal and offer an excellent opportunity to get to know your colleagues.

  9. Share credit. This is one of the best ways to build and reinforce trust.