Karin’s Leadership Articles

How to Let Your Team Know You Believe in Them

The best way to get your team to trust you is to show how much you believe in them.

Hire for trust.

Require it.

Rid your team of untrustworthy players.

And then, show your team how much confidence you have in them.  Here’s how.

7 Ways to Show Your Team You Trust Them

1. Set Audacious Goals

Oh, sure your team may grumble.

But there’s no greater gift you can give your team than leading them toward head-turning results.

Set the bar high and then look them in the eye, “I believe in you. I know what this team is capable of. Now let’s figure out just how– together.”

Show trust by believing it’s possible.

2. Tell The Truth

Even when it’s hard.  Don’t sugarcoat the bad news. Play it straight.

Show trust by treating them like grown-ups.

3. Invite Them To Come Along

I’ll never forget one of my best first bosses, Gail.

She would constantly take me along to senior-level meetings, arguing that “no one could explain it better” than I could.

Of course, that wasn’t true, she was one of the most gifted explainers I know.

But she trusted I would do okay, and was secure enough to give up the spotlight. I’ve been amazed at how many bosses are afraid to give such opportunities to their team.

Show trust by sharing the stage.

4. Admit What You Don’t Know

Show your team you believe in them by admitting you don’t have all the answers. Trust them with your concerns. Trust them with your questions.

Convey your confidence by being real.

5. Encourage Them to Meet Without You

This one took me a minute to get used to (you can read about that here), but a great way to show trust in your team is to give them a big hairy problem and ask them to meet to figure it out.

Make sure that any information and parameters they may need gets out of your head and into theirs first, otherwise, they’ll spin their wheels.

Show trust by getting out of the way.

6. Tell Them

This one might seem obvious or even silly, but I guarantee it can’t hurt. Can you imagine how good it would feel to hear, “I really trust you because_________.”

Show you believe in them by telling them why.

7. Forgive Them

If your team screws up, talk about it, help them learn, and then move on.

Show trust by letting it go.

PrintTrust Across America has once again released its list of Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trusted Business Behavior. See the list (and lots of other great content) in their latest online issue of Trust Magazine. I feel very honored and humbled to be included with such amazing leaders.

Are you looking to build greater results and influence with your team? I’d love to help. Give me a call at 443-750-1249 for a free consultation.

2021 Update

Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of MIcro-Innovators, Problem Solvers and Customer AdvocatesYou’ve come across some of my earliest writing on trust and building great teams.

Check out our books and our latest research on psychological safety, culture.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Allen

    Great article! This is right on target except #1. Often times the goal is ridiculous and the team blows it off as unachievable and never really puts their hearts into it. This can be a disaster if not approached very careful thought.

    • Karin Hurt

      Allen, I agree that you can’t set audacious goals without other expert leadership skills and support to back it up. On the other hand, just ask my sales team, they thought I was flippin out of my mind 😉 until they made it happen.

  2. Terri Klass

    Excellent topic and post, Karin! Trust is the foundation of any team and without it there is always blaming and dysfunction.

    While recently working with an organization that felt their trust levels were plummeting, we decided to address accountability. What we realized was that without each person at each level feeling accountable, there was chronic pointing of the figure and a lack of collaboration. When leaders empower each person to be accountable and step up when they need to lead, a team will soar.

    Thanks Karin!

    • Karin Hurt

      Terri, Perfect example. Thank you!

  3. Rev. Renee Ruchotzke

    This is great. I am teaching my daughter how to drive, which also has a lot of parallels about trusting and letting go!

    • Karin Hurt

      Renee, you are in my prayers 😉 I left that to my husband. I couldn’t take it.

  4. Steve Borek

    To create trust, empower those closest to the situation to make the gutsy call. Not the easiest thing to do if you’re a leader. It’s gutsy.

    • Karin Hurt

      Steve, Awesome. It takes guts to be a great leader.

  5. Alli Polin

    Ask them to lead the way!

    When I took a new leadership position one of my Directors was nervous I’d want to do it my way. Truthfully, I trusted him, he was good at his job and knew far more about the day to day details of his department than I ever would. I attended conference calls where we were both invited and let him lead the conversation. We faced some tough customers and I let him lead the charge to develop the primary relationship… I showed him i trusted him by letting him do his job – and lead.

    Great list, Karin!

    • Karin Hurt

      Alli, Amen! Yes, yes, yes. Great story.

  6. Patricia Bradford

    I don’t believe teams talk about trust enough. It should be a vital conversation that is discussed at the beginning of any team project. I believe these seven steps are so helpful because they act as a guide on how to show you trust them once the conversation is had.

    • Karin Hurt

      Patricia, I agree with you! Having the conversation up front is so important.

  7. xinyue yan

    I feel trusted when my friend gave her credit to me when we were waiting to be checked out in a grocery store and she was about to grab sth. she forgot in the last minutes. I wasn’t suggesting giving one’s credit card to someone who you just met. But at that point, she didn’t think too much and just let me handle her money when necessary. Trust happens takes time. People tend to trust ones who appears in front of them more often and people trust more if one does things consistently. For a leader, he needs to protect the team and take responsibility of things that have failed. Some leaders only enjoy the benefits, but when it’s time to be held accountable for sth, they pass the buck to the others. I believe this kind of leader is not trustful.

  8. SHANE

    Patricia I think you are right, when you are in a team you want to know that everyone has each others backs. Trust is key otherwise people could be lying.

  9. Stephen (Se Hoon) Kim

    It is a great article! I was especially impressed by #5, Encourage them to meet without you. It reminded me of the episode leave that you shared during the class about your maternity leave. I understand that “Trust” is a foundation of the every business, and I feel like I have a better sense of understanding regarding trust after reading the article. Thank you!

  10. Olivia Cortese

    Great article! I think we too often forget that trust is a two way street. In order to establish a healthy, trusting relationship with your team, you must trust them. This entails being vulnerable and letting go of some of the responsibly.

    • Karin Hurt

      Olivia, YES! Well said.

  11. Sakib Tauhidul

    I think it is very important to encourage the team to meet without the leader when trust building. By having the team meet without a leader, the leader is showing that he or she trusts the team in controlling the task. When I go to work, the task lead often delegates a portion of the task to the team and let the us meet on our own time.

    • Karin Hurt

      Sakib, I agree… and I really had to learn that the hard way. It’s hard to let go, but well worth it.

  12. Stephen (Se Hoon) Kim

    Building the trust requires a mutual efforts, especially in teamwork setting. Once the team members or people start to have a doubt in their mind, it is hard to put the situation into the original condition. Trying to listen what the other party say and putting yourself into their shoes can be also a great initiative to build a strong bonding with your team.

    • Karin Hurt

      Stephen, Such an execellent points. The downward spiral of betrayed trust is a slippery slope.

  13. Mariam Rogers

    Great leadership learning tips, specifically; “Telling the Truth”. I usually sugarcoat bad news because I don’t like giving bad news to people……but I have learned that by coming up straight with any news actually make people trust you…

  14. Jingting Li

    It’s really an amazing idea for the “secret” meetings. As a leader, instead of focusing on each and every details of the team, guiding the group to the right direction is much more important. With these small meetings without group leader present, the team can better communicate with each other that will help not only to build trusts within the team, but also to create a good working environment.

  15. Jing Xiao

    Knowing each people in personally is also essential and helpful in building trust in team. The more you know the person, (hobby, stories) you will trust them more. The more you know the person the more you want to work with in order to build trust.

  16. Jingan Lou

    I think telling the truth is much more important than most leaders believe. In fact, members in the team prefer “bad” truth to “good” lie and are willing to deal with the real situation. Telling others why you trust them is a way to build trust fast since this could let yourself define members’ strengths more clearly and members could improve confidence and believe in their efforts.

  17. Yichun Suo

    Great ideas in this article. If I have a leader who can trust me in these ways, I will also feel so appreciative. Building trust is very important in team study and business negotiation. In the beginning of doing team projects, it’s better to spend a little bit time introducing each team member self. Knowing each other is a good opportunity to build trust in a team.

  18. Sulun Yao

    It is more and more important for leaders to build trust nowadays. Leaders can no loner trust in power; instead, they rely on the power of trust. Also, trust involves a frequent exchange of the two parties. If only one party seeks to be trusted but never to trust, the other will stop taking all the risks and shut down the relationship finally. Thus, to succeed, leaders should show their trust.

  19. Dongna Wang

    Trust is so important role to achieve a higher goal in group projects. Because of trust, people fell more comfortable and enable to creat more great ideas with full engagement. As a leader, the most important thing is to let people trust each other. I think Professor Karin summarized a good meathod on this article to apply.

  20. Bingyi Xiang

    Great article!Trust is an essential to an effective team. I don’t think a team without trust is a real team: It’s just a group of individuals working together. However, when trust is in place, each individual in the team become more productive, collaborative and creative because he or she is part of a cohesive group.

  21. Dandan Xu

    I used to think leadership is an advanced skill and is very abstract. But now I realize that leadership can reflect in some very detailed and common personalities and skills, trust is one of them. A leader, except assigning work, should also have faith in his members. Leader’s trust can be a strong motivation for the team to perform better in work. I especially agree that leader should give both praise and criticism to the team since that will help the team get more comprehensive cognition of their strengthens and weaknesses. A good leader should be confident and also humble.

  22. Hanxia Zhang

    Great article! As a leader, show your trust and kindness proactively will get your teammates closer to you and encourage them to trust each other. I do agree on the third point “Invite them to come along”. This action gives teammates a chance to trust you and people have reciprocity that makes them want to pay trust back to you.

  23. Bei Li

    I agree trust needs mutual efforts. And I think it is also a good way to show your trust when you carefully listen team members’ speak and sometimes leave the team to make decisions showing that you completely trust your team in handling tasks.

  24. Dandan Xu

    I used to think leadership is an advanced skill and is very abstract. But now I realize that leadership can reflect in some very detailed and common personalities and skills, trust is one of them. A leader, except assigning work to team members, should also have faith in his members. Leader’s trust can be a strong motivation for the team to perform better in work. I especially agree that leader should give both praise and criticism to the team since that will help the team get more comprehensive cognition of their strengthens and weakness. A good leader should be confident and also humble.

  25. Johana Ducatman

    Great article! By giving others the opportunity to show what the are capable of, leaders show how supportive they are for their employees. In addition, by letting them decide and being authentic, leaders will invite and show their team how to build trust.

  26. Qiqi Lu

    Those comments are very useful even though I have no working experience. On the team member situation, I like the leader who can listen to me and tell me the truth. That is the “real” conversation in my heart. Like Olivia said ” Trust is two way street!”

  27. TONG XU

    Great article! A team without trust isn’t a team; it is just a group of individuals. Trust is essential to an effective team, because it can give team members a safety sense, they will feel comfortable and work effectively. Show your team members how you trust them, and set an example for everyone.

  28. Lu Chen

    Good article! I especially agree that”encourage them to meet without you”. Give your team a chance to make the decisions by themselves, and don’t interfere unless they ask for. The team will feel you trust them totally by this way.

  29. Yuan Yuan

    Good Article! Trust is an essential ingredient in gaining favorable mutual outcomes. It is apparent a good relationship is built on trust. I think adopting these strategy into keeping a good relationship could improve the awkward situation. It is possible to get a desired result while treat other side nice and respectful.

  30. Zhuyue Li

    This article provides us a good way to enhance cohesion of a team. I believe trust matters in any human relationship. A good leader should not merely tell the team member “I trust you and you can also trust me’, but also need to help build trust among team members. He or she gives everyone the chance to let other know why I am a trustworthy, reliable and responsible person.

  31. Xinyue Tao

    Trust is very important to an effective team, because it lets team members feel comfortable with each other, thus they could communicate better and share more information. The tips in this article are very useful. And I think the leader could use employee’s feedback to make positive changes.

  32. Xueli Zhao

    Among the greatest attributes of a leader, trust-building is the bedrock of all. You may have innovative insight, competitive strategies and a competent team, but nothing is accomplished successfully if the team members do not trust you. I believe the seven strategies are good ways to start building trust!!

  33. Wooram Joo

    First, thank for a great article!!!
    I definitely agree with opinion #3. A great leader always invites them to come along for new opportunities. But, the boss does not.
    I will keep in mind that building trust first to be a great leader in the future.

  34. Yayi Wang

    Great article! I especially agree the point of forgiving your team when they screw up. In fact, when team screws up, complaining never helps things get better. Instead, staying with team and helping team move forward will not only help problems to be solved faster, but also let team believe that you are able to share both sweets and bitters with them. Also, team will be more willing to overcome difficulties when they are supported by someone they really trust.

  35. Ruoying Wang

    Great article! I think the most important way to let you team member trust you is trust them. Like “encourage them to meet without you”, you trust you team can solve the problem alone. I think team member will feels good when they know you are trust them.

  36. meilin xu

    I definitely agree with the effectiveness about setting audacious goal. Sometimes people are not so confident about what they are capable of. Therefore, they need someone that they trust and admire to tell them “you can do this, I know you can”. If the goal was achieved, they would trust the leader more than ever. If the goal was failed, they would appreciate the leader and determine to do better next time.

  37. Yang (Michelle) Zhou

    I completely agree with #3, 4 and #6. My previous supervisor tried her best to invite me to her interview with her clients and encouraged me to ask questions during the interviews too which made me feel important and special even if I was just her intern. Admitting what you don’t know does not make you a loser-it only makes you a human whom your team members can relate more to. And I still remember my other supervisor pushed me to have done a better job by telling me “I’m not an expert on this so I trust you”.

  38. Xuyang Hao

    Very useful tips!Especially tip #4 Admit what you don’t know. It is really hard to do that because no one wants to be considered as a person without ideas or without competencies. However, nobody knows everything, it is better to show that you don’t know the answer to a certain question than offering an irresponsible reply.

  39. Sixuan Wu

    I can’t agree more on “Invite Them To Come Along”. When I was just a entry level assistant, my boss invited me to his executive meeting with several co-founders of his company. When the top executives don’t agree and stuck in a awkward situation, he asked me for my opinion because I was an “outsider” and I was likely to have an more objective view. Ever since that, I became very motivated because I felt I was trusted and valued.

    I believe another way to build trust is to give credit to team members for their contribution. One of the common complains employees have is “my boss stole my idea and pretended it was his/hers”. If leaders do not give their team members credit for what they deserve, team members are more than likely to withhold information from each other. Thus distrust will occur and information will not be able to flow freely.

  40. Zishen Wang

    As I read these 7 tips above, I am impressive by one word “TRUST”. Indeed, trust is the most significant thing for a team. Only when the members on the team trust the leader, they can devote themselves to the team and contribute as much as possible. On the other hand, the leader should also trust those members on the team. If he trust them, he can set up a goal appropriately to get the maximum value. Among these seven ways to gain trust, I am impressive by the one “TELL TRUTH”. Obviously, no one likes lies. Even the truth may not be ideal, members on the team also need to be aware of it.

  41. Xinhua Mai

    It is really a good point that a leader should tell the team the truth. Even though it may be a bad news, the team members has the right to know it. Trust is hard to build but easy to break. If a leader cheat the team members once, it is hard for him or her to get the trust on the next time.

  42. Yiyun Jia

    Great advice for trust building! Trust is the key in collaboration and team work. I feel exactly how those steps can help and let the team member feel trusted. #2 is especially true in real life. As a leader in a hard situation, it is important to let all members know the difficulty and empower them. They will take the responsibility because of being trusted and demonstrate their capability, such as problem solving ability. However, it may also take a really long time to build relationship and trust. A lot to learn and practice. Thank you Karin for the useful guidance!

  43. jing cheng

    This seven rules seem very common to every body, but i think it is not easy to conduct them when we actually work or study in the real life. I think tell the truth is really important. When i have an interview in the last summer, the employ asked me if i have some professional experience related to this job, i answered honestly, however i do not have some experience, the employ still hired me.

  44. Lingyi Zhang

    I am very impressed by the No.3 and No. 5. Because I had the experience that when my boss asked me to join an important meeting and trust me do work without his supervision. I felt I was trusted deeply. I will apply there two in the future.

  45. JILEI GU

    It’s a really great article. Espicially for No.2 tell the truth, I think the basis of the trust is there is no lie in the team. And I learned from my own experience that telling the truth is always a better option than a white lie!

  46. Sunhe Wang

    I totally agree that trust is a very important factor, but wonder why #1 will build on much for trust. I was a team leader of a marketing project related to hybrid street lighting system. Since we don’t have expert knowledge about engineering stuff, it could be difficult for us to understand all related knowledge at a short period of time. But I really wanted to do things perfectly and asked all the team members to read related articles and communicate with engineering professors. These assignments made my team member stressed. Even though we eventually did a great job, we missed the deadline and had to apply for extension.

  47. Hanxue Zhang

    I totally agree with the second tip that the author pointed out in the article. Telling the truth is hard, but it shows that you are helping everyone in the group can improve themselves during a project. This tip can also apply in the workplace when communicating with your boss. Sometimes, telling boss your real thoughts can show your trust.

  48. Shucen Wu

    Really inspired article! I really think these seven tips work. For example, invite them to come along can really make them feel that they are the one that you need, and that they are important. So that the people who are invited will think you are trust them form the bottom of their heart, therefore they will work hard by their best effort. And all the other tips are also helpful to me to make my team member trust me.

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