Enabling Trust



What leaders fail to realize is the power behind being perceived as having high integrity and being trustworthy. These perceptions truly do impact business results. Yet, often our behavior as leaders drives just the opposite. Trusted leaders get many rewards: engaged employees, retention of top talent, positive work culture, and—most important—results. 

Why is it that so few realize the power of integrity and trust as business tools?

As a leader, where do you stand? Here are some of the warning signs that trust is an issue in your organization or for you, personally:

  • An active, inaccurate grapevine
  • Elaborate approval processes
  • Low initiative
  • High turnover
  • A high fear factor among employees
  • Turf wars
  • Defensiveness

These are signs a trust issue exists, but the good news is that it is an issue that can be addressed.

Ken Blanchard suggests that building trust is instrumental to a high involvement, high- energy workplace in his article:

“We know that trust is important for building strong and sustainable organizations. Previous research into the impact trust has on organizations has shown that it helps businesses to run smoothly, increasing positivity and cooperation, improving team processes and driving individual and organizational performance.”

The Truth about Trust: Honesty and Integrity at Work

The 2015 “Building Workplace Trust Report” issued by Interaction Associatesprovides a wealth of information about the current state of organizational trust between employees and bosses.

Unlike some studies that heap the full responsibility for trust creation on bosses, the report concludes “Trust is a two way street”.

By defining trust as “the willingness to accept personal risk based on another person’s actions”; 96% of the employees stated that trusted leaders make decisions that are consistent, predictable and transparent.

Not surprisingly, participants in the research study stated that trust in leaders and trust in direct reports were almost equally important to being effective in their jobs. Leaders know they can succeed only when they can trust their subordinates.

“When a direct report builds trust with a supervisor, the boss becomes more confident to delegate tasks to the employee. Trust allows the manager to step back from micro- managing and focus on the big picture. In turn, this creates an opportunity for employees to prove themselves, develop self-reliance, learn and grow, and share responsibility for the success of the team and the company.”

Employees identified in the study three key actions a leader can take in building boss-employee trust:

  1. Ask for my input on decisions that affect me
  2. Give me background info so I can understand decisions
  3. Set me up for success with learning and resources

Leadership’s top three actions recommended for establishing employee-boss trust were:

  1. Keep me up-to-date on the status of work that is not yet completed
  2. Ask clarifying questions when I assign tasks.
  3. Make suggestions about improvements to the company/department/team

Additionally, the Interaction Associates research suggested that an employee supports trust building with their boss by asking themselves these questions:

  1. What does my manager need to know so that he or she will not be caught off guard?
  2. How can I reduce his or her risk?
  3. How can I solve this problem–and let my manager know it’s been taken care of?

Consistency + Predictability + Transparency = Trust

Inconsistency + Unpredictability + Secrecy = Distrust

 “When people honor each other, there is a trust established that leads to synergy, interdependence, and deep respect. Both parties make decisions and choices based on what is right, what is best, what is valued most highly.” ~ Blaine Lee, Organizational Development Author


Marsha Clark provides a great resource for building, and sustaining the three types of trust outlined in:

Simon Sinek created a simple model, ‘The Golden Circle’ that codifies what makes the most inspiring people and organizations so successful and influential. Beginning as a student in anthropology, Simon Sinek turned his fascination with people into a career of convincing people to do what inspires them. Through his struggle to rediscover his excitement about life and work, he made some profound realizations and began helping his friends and their friends to find their “why”. Never planning to write a book, he penned ‘Start With Why’ simply as a way to distribute his message. Now Simon takes the next step. After why comes: trust.

“When we’re surrounded by people who believe what we believe something remarkable happens: Trust emerges. Make no mistake of it, trust is a feeling, a distinctly human experience. Simply doing everything that you promise you’re going to do does not mean people will trust you. It just means you’re reliable.

Trust comes from a sense of common values and beliefs. And the reason trust is important, is because when we are surrounded with people who believe what we believe, we’re more confident to take risks. We’re more confident to experiment, which requires failure, by the way. We are more confident to go off and explore knowing that there is someone from within our community, someone who believes what we believe, someone we trust and who trusts us, will watch our back, help us when we fall over and watch our stuff and look after our children while we’re gone. Our very survival depends on our ability to surround ourselves with people who believe what we believe.”


Trust: It can reduce costs. Increase productivity Enhance innovation, improve collaboration and increase value. It’s there, but it is beneath the surface. Unless we have eyes to see it, it will stay hidden. To increase management trust and relationship trust Covey examines our trust perspective and vision using fly fishing experience. Trust is a hidden variable in success and building trust in our relationships is a career critical skill.

As a person, your actions can inspire trust and empower others to make a difference. Each day you are faced with moments of choice where in you can choose to be a trim tab. If you do, your model will set the tone for those you lead. Small things over time can have a tremendous impact.