7 Fundamentals For Building Real Trust With Your Team

Trust is tricky. It sure looks easy on paper (or a blog post.) But get out in real life, and what seems obvious and easy, suddenly becomes more difficult than securing funding for a corporate hover-craft. The sooner we talk about trust, why it works, and how it breaks down the better. That’s why I always start any emerging leader program by talking about trust.

I’m preparing now for a new emerging leader program for one of my clients. Our first session is called: Trust Matters: Behaviors and Techniques that Foster Trust and Connection. 

As part of the workshop, we’ll focus on these 7 fundamentals and have dialogue about why it’s so hard to pull off, and what to do to increase your chances of success.

7 Fundamentals For Building Real Trust with Your Team

  1. Trust Yourself
    “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” -Golda Meir   Your team looks to you for clues about whether to trust you. Genuine confidence goes a long way in building trust.
  2. Have a Solid Plan
    “Those who trust by chance must abide by the results of chance.” -Calvin Coolidge
    Everyone feels safer when they know where they’re headed and what to expect. You can’t control everything, but the more solid your plan, the more apt your team will be to trust that you know what you’re doing.
  3. Ask Great Questions
    “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he asks the right questions.” -Claude Levi Strauss
    The best way to convince your team you know what you’re doing and are paying attention is to ask great questions. Be genuinely interested in what they are doing and why.
  4. Always Tell the Truth
    “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important matters.” -Albert Einstein
    It’s so tempting to spin what’s going on to make it more palatable. But at some point, your team will taste the truth and your credibility will suffer. Of course, you can’t share everything. Sometimes the truth is that plans are still under development and it would be pre-mature to share. Your team will respect that far more than a half-baked, fabricated story.
  5. Give Them Some Space
    “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him–and to let him know that you trust him.” –Booker T. Washington
    No one likes to be micro-managed, but then again too much space can lead to unclear expectations. Invest in an ongoing dialogue about what level of over-sight and support will achieve the best results.
  6. Admit When You’re Wrong
    “Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt.”- Eric Sevareid
    Chances are when you screw up, your team already knows. Admitting your mistakes goes a long way in building trust and enhancing your credibility.
  7. Be Consistent
    “Trust is built with consistency.” –Lincoln Chafee
    In a turbulent world, people long for as much consistency as possible. Knowing that “If I do x, I get y,” goes a long way in building trust. Sure, circumstances vary. When you’re purposefully inconsistent be sure to explain why.

Building trust takes time and real effort. None of us nail all these all of the time. It’s worth an honest assessment of where you stand and to make a deliberate investment in improving the trust with your team.

Working on your 2016 leadership development strategy? I’d love to help! Please contact me for a free consultation 443-750-1249.

Also, if you have not yet completed my 2016 planning survey, I would really like your input on how I can add more value to you and your organization in 2016. Please click here. 

Posted in Authenticity & Transparency and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of several books: Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates (Harper Collins Summer 2020), Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. DWYSYWD or Do What You Said You Would Do.

    The leader is always being watched.

    If you’re talk isn’t in alignment with your actions, how you spend your time, what’s on your calendar, followers will not trust you as the leader.

    Merry XMAS!

    p.s. Karin, have you been naughty or nice?

  2. I believe the most significant thing leaders can do to foster higher trust is to create a safe environment where people know they can express their true feelings without fear of being punished. In my books I call the behavior “Reinforcing Candor.” In my trust research over the past 30 years, that one behavior stands out as one that many leaders find difficult to do, but it truly enables all of the other things to actually work like they are on steroids. Here is a brief video on it http://avanoo.com/v/3c3c7a5f-9 The video is actually day 19 of a 30 day video program I prepared on “Building Trust.”

  3. Trust is at the foundation of any relationship and team. To build trust I often have managers share something about their past or a specific challenge they may have faced in childhood. When colleagues connect in a deeper way they begin to build trust and understanding for one another.

    Thanks Karin for an excellent post!

  4. Fantastic. Love that you included give them space. It’s one thing to say “I trust you” and another to let people go and do great work.

    Looks like a great course, Karin.

  5. Great points, Karin.

    I think being transparent is so important when it comes to building trust. Even if you don’t know the answer, people will respect you if 1) you admit it, and 2) make an effort to find the answer. So follow-up runs a close second to transparency when trying to persuade people they can trust you….

  6. Karin

    Trust is certainly key to any productive relationship. Having been on both sides of the trust discussion it is certainly more empowering to have the discussions and develop the relationships.


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