How Trustworthy Are You?

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book The Fearless Factor @ Work

Trust is based on several elements that work together in order to create a lasting relationship with people. If I know I can depend on you to take the right actions most of the time, and know you have my best interests at heart, I will trust you. If I see that you are transparent in your dealings with me, we have created a bond of trust that results in an open, heart-centered relationship. I will trust and appreciate you.

As a leader, your people want to know you say what you mean, and mean what you say. Your reputation is at stake here. If you don’t trust your people, or you don’t trust your relationships, it will destroy what you are building. Trust is what makes things work. It gets the job done, it builds influence, it keeps people communicating, and it builds loyalty.

Does your speech and behavior match? Sometimes our actions don’t match our values, or are contrary to our intention. It happens to everyone from time to time. A momentary failure of integrity, or a decision taken from the wrong vantage point can be overlooked, but if your behavior continually belies your stated intention, you will quickly lose the trust of those around you.


Everyone wants to feel accepted and respected for who they are, and appreciated for what they contribute to work and to life. When they are being judged, criticized or made to feel inferior, it creates a barrier between people. When you are dealing with someone who comes across as superior, or gives the impression that others are stupid, or inadequate for not knowing something, trust suffers.

Acceptance means accepting others for who they are, and treating them with respect. It means listening to them when they have something to say, thanking them for their contribution, giving them your attention.

People tend to cooperate best with leaders who are transparent. Leaders who level with them and give them the whole story, even if the details are unpleasant. Open leaders share the good, the bad and the ugly, but do so with understanding, compassion and respect. People work well with people they trust.

We trust others when our outcomes are aligned, and distrust them when their intentions impede ours. We have the greatest trust in those we have long-term relationships with and who have earned our respect and confidence, and live in integrity having never violated our trust.


If you break trust with someone, there is an easy fix.

Acknowledge that you broke an agreement, then apologize, and ask what you can do to make amends. This will indicate your commitment to the relationship and move it forward again. If the individual refuses to mend the fences, then apologize again, and move on. Life is too short to play a one-handed game.

For team members, trust is essential. Think of it as the broad foundation upon which you grow everything else. Trust is like a strong oak tree that withstands the powerful winds of change. It bends and is shaped by the relationships that leaders and their followers have.

Trust means having confidence in one another to be successful. As a leader, you develop several levels of trust with the people you lead. At the first level, they trust you to help guide them in the right direction. In turn, you trust that they will execute the plan accurately. To implement any change, you trust that you are doing the right thing, and team member will trust that they’ve been given the right information to do the task. If there is any doubt, or if you don’t trust the person giving or receiving the information, you’re not likely to have a good outcome.

Frequently, the difficult conversations between leadership and team members do not occur because there is a lack of courage addressing the issues, and there is no organizational support to make it better. Trust is eroded because no one speaks to the real issues at hand. Ultimately, motivation drops off and productivity suffers because people are disengaged.

SHRM, the Society for Human Resources Management, suggests that only 49%of employees trust senior management. The scores for CEO’s are even more dismal: only 28% of surveyed employees felt that the CEO was a credible source of information. This lack of trust limits creativity, undermines conflict management, disempowers the individual, and brings a high level of uncertainty to leadership. It’s no wonder that so many companies are suffering from dysfunctional malaise.

On the other hand, Amy Lyman’s research on the 100 Best Company to Work For concludes that, “Companies whose employees praise the high levels of trust in their workplace are, in fact, among the highest earners, beating the average annualized returns of the S&P 500 by a factor of three. Stephen M.R. Covey, in his book The Speed of Trust says that when the level of trust in an organization goes down, the speed of change goes down with it, and the cost of change goes up.


Trust is about building relationships, communicating clearly, and taking the right actions, over the right time to get the right results. It’s a layering process that takes time to develop.

Learn more about building trust

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