Building Trust

The second article in this leadership series is on trust, one of the most critical traits of a strong leader and necessary for success in the workplace.

Trust is defined as the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, or surety of a person or thing – confidence. A 2016 survey by consulting firm PwC found that 55% of business leaders believed lack of trust in the workplace was a foundational threat to their company. Yet, to have a trusting workplace, leaders must first be trustworthy.

Below are exercises that can help develop and strengthen in all leaders. Remember to execute these steps with a clear purpose in mind, and then reflect on each upon completion. Build these exercises into your daily, weekly and quarterly schedule, to ensure completion and achieve greater frequency.

Building Trust

  1. Work with a small group and identify “trust busters.”  Discuss ways to avoid or eliminate trustbusters.
  2. Identify three team members who you trust the least and list those things that you distrust about them. Are there some common threads in all three? What is it that drives you to react to them cautiously?
  3. Over the next few weeks try at least one strategy to build a positive connection with each of the identified team members.
  4. Find a short article on trust and give a copy to each of your team members. Ask them to discuss it with you over lunch or before or after work.
  5. Establish a feedback group in which you discuss the level of trust on your team. Identify positive things that you can do to build trust.
  6. If you made a leadership mistake, admit it, and discuss it with your team. Note how the team reacts.
  7. Define authentic behavior for yourself.  Set some standards for authentic behavior and hold yourself accountable to them.
  8. Make a short audio tape in which you affirm your commitment to building stronger levels of trust. Listen to this tape periodically for motivation and affirmation.
  9. Survey your leadership peers to discover what they do to build trust with their teams.

Driving Positive Work Values

As you continually build and model trust, be mindful that it is only one of the values critical for success. While the specific values of each business will vary, a regular and mindful focus on developing those values is necessary to instill them at all levels of the workplace. Try these exercises with your core leadership team:

  1. Engage team members in casual conversations around the question…” What is a values-driven team?”
  2. Discuss ethical standards with your team members.
  3. Develop a matrix that shows the relationship between your values and your management behavior.
  4. Research managerial ethics. Report your findings to the team.
  5. Identify and clarify team norms or rules of professional interaction.
  6. Link professional behavior to workplace values.
  7. Write down the workplace values that define your approach to leadership.  Share them with your team members.


By Christine R. Spray

Photo: ID-143486928 © Peerapong