Trust and Social Capital

by | Feb 20, 2021 | Blog

Do others seek your counsel or advice on things that matter?

When Others Seek You Out for Advice – You are Trusted and have Social Capital

An important way to measure the level of trust others have in you is to assess your social capital. Social capital is a power-currency of influence. Individuals with high degrees of social capital are called on by other leaders, peers, and subordinates to give their advice or to join in on an initiative.

If you wonder how strong your social capital is, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do Others Ask for My Views?
  • Does My Boss Seek My Advice?
  • Am I Invited into New and Exciting Projects?

How to Gain Social Capital and Influence

If you find that your social capital is not as strong as you would like and you want to build levels of trust and influence around you inside of your organization, try these five strategies:

1. Ask

Ask your supervising leader if you can participate in or lead an important initiative. Be specific with him or her. Call out the initiative by name. Be prepared to spend time on the initiative outside of your normal work duties, and of course, give your best effort and help make the initiative outcome successful.

This process will increase your social influence. Others will begin to look at you and say,

“Jane knows what she’s doing, we should ask her opinion.”


“John has the ear of other leaders, let’s engage him on our project.”

2. Give

Give your time to others who are working on challenging opportunities. Show interest and concern. Be respectful of their role – don’t take over. At the same time, engage in and learn about what is happening in that opportunity. Be helpful.

3. Reach-Out

Reach out directly to members of your team. Find out where they are blocked. Then, use your influence to help unblock them. For example, let’s say you have someone working for you who is on a project that requires a leader outside of your organization to commit resources and your person is frustrated because those resources never get committed to the project. This is an opportunity for you to work with your peer leader and collaborate in order to help free up resources.

4. Learn

Actively learn about and be interested in other people’s problems, projects, and processes.

5. Share

Actively share your most important initiatives with your peers and supervising leaders. Let them know what you are working on. This is a courtesy – you’re not asking them for anything, simply sharing. One of the best ways to do this is to go on a roadshow. Schedule 30 minutes with a peer, go to their office, and share a brief presentation showing them what you are working on and why it’s strategic. End by asking for their insight and input.

It Worked for Me at Nike

I used these techniques at Nike and they worked extremely well. My social capital rose rapidly, trust factors were apparent because I was sought out to help on difficult topics, many of which I had no experience with. If you are worried about your social capital and the degree that you are trusted with important work, try the five strategies listed above.

Continue Learning

Explore the factors of trust in more detail with this self-assessment.

Article Written by Dr. Gordon Whitehead

Article Written by Dr. Gordon Whitehead

Founder of Leaders247

Gordon Whitehead is the founder of Leaders247 and specializes in leadership and organizational development with a particular interest in helping emerging leaders accelerate their leadership growth.

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