A Matter of Trust: Why I Trust You, Why I Don't

Developing real trust takes time. The people we lead come to us with history, memories, and experiences–they recall times of trust inspired and trust betrayed. When we are in a new gig, our teams watch even more closely.

  • “Can I trust you?”
  • “How do you talk to your boss?”
  • “Are you like the last guy?”

When we have been with a team longer, our teams have real perceptions and interpretations of our actions.

  • “Is this a pattern?”
  • “Does she always have my back?”
  • “How does he act under stress?”
  • “How is she treating everyone else?”

After years of leading, being led, coaching leaders, reading employee surveys, and hanging out with leaders here’s my best summary of what inspires or destroys trust.

“Why I Trust You”

Because you

  • let me know where I stand
  • share information
  • back me up
  • help me learn from mistakes
  • share how you make decisions
  • treat other people well
  • do what you say you will
  • understand what makes me tick
  • have my best interests in mind
  • admit when you are wrong
  • encourage dissent

Why I Don’t

Because you

  • let politics trump logic
  • withhold information I need
  • talk about me behind my back
  • break commitments
  • keep changing your mind
  • react without understanding
  • don’t get to know me
  • ignore me

What are you doing to develop trust within your teams?

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Posted in Authenticity & Transparency and tagged , , , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.


  1. This is really helpful to see a simple list of the trustworthy and untrustworthy behavior together.

    What has your experience been with people prone to flattery? I tend to distrust the people who lay it on think because sometimes that trait goes with people who tend to be manipulative.

    Greg Marcus

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