Leading in Trust

Trust in the workplace is essential to the overall organization’s success, and although most people would agree with its importance, it is often difficult to achieve. Competing priorities and careers often stand in the way of ultimately trusting fellow teammates.


Consider how focusing your leadership on intentionally seeking out ways to grow in this area could affect your team’s performance. You could improve the flow of communication, establish new lines of support, and increase overall engagement. But how is this achieved precisely? It is a complex thing and one that is difficult to define in many ways since we are trying to affect the emotions of other people, but there are some specific things that we can do to put the building blocks in place to create an environment that encourages trust.

Start by extending trust to others.

Build the behaviors we discuss in Gapology and Speed of Purpose into your organization. This process will form a foundation that a trust culture will need to stand upon.

  • Define a clear and compelling purpose. Ensure that the team understands the purpose and that you have wrapped it around all elements of your business or workgroup. This should flow through the employee lifecycle and be attached to all departments, projects, and communication.

  • Establish clear expectations and priorities. Define what the team should do and what they should produce. These are the foundations of solid execution, and when expectations are set around behaviors and results, you will avoid confusion and improve overall performance.

  • Create accountability. Rewarding those who perform and coaching those who are struggling is essential to building trust. Leaders who avoid doing either will crush the team’s trust and create barriers to repairing it in the future.

Then show that you trust them to take action. Gapology is all about leading a team to action, and starting with these things and then actively trusting your team members to act will be the real beginning to growing the culture you seek.

Next, model the behavior you expect from others.

This will be a crucial element in creating a trust-based environment. Demonstrate the trust behaviors you expect and show them how to value trust in everything you do.

  • What we value, say, and assume to know must align with how we behave, the action we take, and the ultimate results we produce. This is the process for modeling our expectations and establishing a solid level of trust from our team, peers, and those we impact daily.

Trust takes hard work and a dedicated focus to build. Encouraging it to grow requires strategic thinking and planning. Every interaction, every meeting, and project needs to be looked at through the lens of promoting trust. Start each day and week by examining how you currently perform in this area and determine how you can positively impact it. Without this dedicated focus, creating a trusting culture is nearly impossible. Trust requires intent. It takes time to build but just a moment to lose.