how do I build trust with my BPO strategic partners

12 Components Of Trusted Strategic Partnerships

“But how do you KNOW our BPO vendors will follow-through, if we don’t put it in the contract?” I looked at my COO assuredly, “because they told me they would.”

“But what if they DON’T?, my boss continued.

“If they don’t do what they say, we’ve got much bigger problems than this metric. That would be a breach of our trusted partnership we’ve worked so hard to build over the last 2 years.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for writing great contracts. Over the last few years, I’ve learned the intricacies of this fine art and always start with a great contract– focused on incenting what matters most.

But I also know the minute you have to refer to the contract explicitlyk, you’re in trouble.

To achieve results create deeply connected, transparent, mutually beneficial relationships.

What Makes A Partner Trustworthy?

The Trust Across America built a quantifiable business case for trust, aggregating data based on FACTS

  • Financial stability and strength
  • Accounting conservativeness
  • Corporate governance
  • Transparency
  • Sustainability

What was not included in the model was my favorite part of their crowdsourced book, Trust Inc: Strategies For Building Your Companies Assets, Be Thoughtful.

“If your company is serious about increasing trustworthiness, consider engaging all of your stakeholders in rich thoughtful conversations. Don’t approach them as constituencies to be maneuvered, managed or massaged. Instead, view them as vital contributors to a better organization by letting them into the conversation. To be a thoughtful company with a thoughtful strategy, trust for stakeholders must be thoughtful.”

When I spoke with Barbara she shared that leadership is “tough to measure.” But leadership and relationships will make or break a company’s success. Trust translates to contracts, winning the deal and new business.

As leader of a Strategic Partnership Channel (formerly known as the vendor management organization) I offer big, un-written, and un-articulated rules that work best in our strategic partnerships. These norms apply to both sides of the relationship. I start and end relationships based on trust.

12 Keys to Trusted Strategic Partnerships

  1. Really understand one another’s business
  2. Invest in connecting as human beings beyond the business role
  3. Know how you each make money
  4. Tell the truth (even when it’s awkward, embarrassing, or could cost you business)
  5. Don’t commit to more than you can do well (repeat this one 3 times)
  6. Don’t play games… EVER
  7. Don’t wine and dine… the best deals are done over chopsticks or a long walk
  8. Lose some battles, admit when you’re wrong
  9. Let logic prevail, even when contracts are on “your side”
  10. Don’t sweat the small stuff
  11. Think long-term
  12. Reward trusted partnerships with more business/effort

This list applies to business partnerships and just about any partnership you can think of. Please share your views.

3 Secrets To Sharing Secrets

Don’t keep secrets. Keeping secrets creates short-term advantages and long-term costs. You gain the edge, but lose the relationship. The world could use less secrets and more sharing. I wish you would share more.

Annoying Secret #1: Bad News

I was happy when he brought me bad news. His eyes matched his words,”I’m really worried.” I exhaled a huge sigh of relief. I was worried too, but this guy worries with data. He had patterns, insights, and possible scenarios. He could have waited, or tried a thing or two first. He wants to look good. But he knows I want to know what he knows. The sooner I know the real deal, the faster we can solve it.

You want your boss to know you’ve got it covered. But your boss wants to help. Share your concern out of respect not need. Bring potential solutions. Share your internal debate. Keep the lead, but give others a chance to collaborate on solutions.

Annoying Secret #2: Best Practices

It was the day before the big review with the senior team. We each had a turn to share our talk tracks. The leader ahead in an important key metric mentioned 3 or 4 best practices for the first time. We’d ALL been struggling toward this same goal, and he had answers.

Keeping best practices secret destroys trust. Secret keepers lose respect. No one wants to promote the secret keeper. Share your knowledge. Offer help. Open your heart and hands to the greater good.

Annoying Secret #3: How You Really Feel

“We’ve all been talking about it; you’re acting different.” His words were a kick in my gut. I knew it was true. The pressure was mounting and I was trying to protect the team. Instead of serving as shield, my stress emerged as unexplained intensity. We talked. We explored feelings and reasons on both sides. It helped. We carved a path forward.

Keeping your feelings secret dehumanizes the relationship. Keeping how you really feel a secret to protect your team may even make you feel like a martyr. Don’t whine, but share feelings with intention. Know the reason for your sharing. Start slowly. Check in. Initiate a balanced discussion (what feels good? what feels bad?) Be open to what you hear on the other end.

Shackled Truth: Words Left Unsaid

Don’t shackle your truth. When you leave words unsaid. Your team loses, your world stays unchanged, and you know it could be better.

I worked this week with a mix of fantastic leaders across a spectrum of leadership roles and industries in a keynote I gave at the International Customer Service Association. 

Early in the game, I asked each person to write down a “strong leadership strength which they frequently hide.” I was surprised and saddened by the #1 answer.

Telling the Truth

Folks yearn to tell the truth, share their knowledge, and express their opinions but are slowed by fear of:

  • Authority
  • Backlash
  • Upset employees
  • Not being accepted
  • Failure
  • Consequences
  • Bosses
  • Losing my position

“What if I’m wrong?” or “my boss disagrees” “I don’t fit in.” “there are other strong voices in the room.” The fear of these vital leaders is also your fear, my fear, our fear.

Unschackled Truth

“Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this, except that it ain’t so.”
~ Mark Twain

We work so hard to unshackle truth. Scar tissue, dynamics, fear of losing the familiar, keep us cautious. Your team may be holding back more than you think. A few thoughts on unshackling:

  • Ask questions for which you have no idea of the answer
  • Tell the truth (up, down, and sideways)
  • Listen more than is practical
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Take deliberate actions on what you hear
  • Recognize the truth sayers

*Photo by Larry Kohlenstein

Frontline Festival-May 2013: Trust and Transparency Edition

Welcome to the May Frontline Festival. Thanks to all the amazing thought leaders sharing their perspectives on Trust and Transparency.

Building Trust

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership says you “can’t build trust,” in his post How do I trust thee? Trust is important, but it has more than one dimension. I like that he differentiates between being trusted as a person and being trusted as a leader, with salient examples of a newly promoted team leader.

New to the Festival, Henna Inam, of Transformational Leadership, shares her post How To Influence Others Powerfully. She explores the linkage between influence and trust. I agree with her statement, “influence expands in direct proportion to trust and connection.”

Jonathan Green, of Monster Leaders, shares The Three Rules for a Prospering Work Culture. Jonathan teaches, “Sharing is caring. It is critically important to keep people in the know and connect them through honesty, sharing experiences and promoting open dialogue.”

Trusting Your Team

“He who does not trust enough, Will not be trusted.”
~Lao Tzu

Lolly Daskal of Lead From Within offers great advice for building trust in her post, Just Trust Me. My favorite point, “Trust is a two-way street. To make someone trustworthy, you need to trust them first. The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”More leaders need this message.

John Hunter of Curious Cat shares, Trust Your Staff to Make Decisions. “Often the basic problem is managers don’t trust their systems to hire and develop people. The solution to this problem is not to give your staff no authority. The solution is to manage your systems so that you can trust your people.”

Mark Miller of Great Leaders serve shares his post Great Teams Take a Leap of Faith we must trust that building community will reap rewards.

Trusting Yourself

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
~Steve Jobs

Dan McCarthy, of Great Leadership shares, Authentic Leadership Development: Your Past, Present and Future He shares, “Becoming an authentic leader involves transformation. It’s not “doing” leadership, it’s figuring out who you are and who you want to be as a leader.”

I love this post from Eric Dingler of, because he starts by considering how you trust yourself. Are You the Leader The Team You Are Looking to Lead Is Looking to Follow? He asks provocative questions: “Would you follow you? Are you trustworthy? Do you really want what’s best for your team? Are you in it for them? Do you let your team get to know you? Would you want your kids to grow up and work for you?”

Matt McWilliams of Life. Leadership. Love. Learned the Hard Way. Shares his journey toward becoming a better leader in, Feedback for Leaders (Or, You Suck, Sincerely, Your Team). I admire his candid insights.

Leigh Steere shares her Lead Change post, Your Executive Title Does Not Make You a Leader. She interviews an exec who chose to leave her leadership post, in order to remain a leader. “Laura concluded, “I was actively uninspired. I could not stay, because I am a leader.” Powerfully provocative.

Elements of Trust

I love the angle taken by Joan Kofodimos of Teleos Consulting in her post, The Dark Side of Trust. She provides specific actions we can take to “take responsibility for identifying your own interests and negotiate to get them met.” Sometimes what feels like a breach of trust, may be a gap in expectations.

Tal Shnall of Habits of the Heart, breaks down several components of trust in his post, The Meaning of Trust. My favorite, “if you are willing to place other people’s concerns and aspirations on the top of your agenda, you will be able to expand the trust with them for the long run.”

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context asks What Variables Impact How Freely We Extend Trust. She has a nice list, what would you add?

Greg Marcus of Idolbuster shares a chapter from his excellent book, Busting Your Corporate Idol, Who to Trust at Work.

When Trust Breaks Down

“Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”
~J.K. Rowling

New to the Festival, Skip Prichard of Skip Prichard Leadership Insights, interviews Scott Weiss on the “crises of trust” in his post, The Challenge of Trusting Leadership. He invites Weiss to “speak to the new graduate who is just starting out. What can he or she do to avoid the shocking experience you had when you first were exposed to these concepts?”

Blair Glaser  exposes the risks of following in Are You Strong Enough to Be My Fan. My favorite line, “There is a way to follow that won’t set you or the leader up for a fall. You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to recognize the human fallibility in all of us.”

Bob Winchester shares  Five Reasons Your Boss Doesn’t Trust You– How To Break Through Corporate Culture Revolution. He also offers tips for recovering when you screw up.

David Dye, of Trailblaze shares, Can We Really Trust Your Leadership? He’s got an interesting story that will make you feel better about your driving, as well as tips for building trust in the midst of a mistake.


“What passes for woman’s intuition is often nothing more than man’s transparency.”
~George Jean Nathan

Dan Rockwell of Leadership Freak, exposes the dangers of hiding your views in Death to Bobble Head Leaders. “Leaders become bobble heads to protect position and get promoted. It’s dishonest and disingenuous. Look around. How many bobbing heads sit at the table?” The best question, “Is anyone disruptive?”

Jennifer V. Miller of The People Equation says that leadership bloggers are fond of touting “transparency” as a path to authentic leadership. But are there times when disclosure is not the best policy? Find out in her post Is Leadership Transparency Always the Best Policy?

Also new to the Festival, Randy Conley,shares Four Strategies to Increase Organizational Trust & Transparency. In today’s fast-paced, globally connected business world in which we live, an organization’s successes and failures can be tweeted across the internet in a matter of seconds. A knee jerk reaction of many organizational leaders is to clamp down on the amount of information shared internally, with hopes of minimizing risk to the organization. Many times this backfires and ends up creating a culture of risk aversion and low trust.

Jon Mertz, of Thin Difference shares Trust: At the Speed of Social Media. As Generation Y or Millennials grow in workplace presence, this new definition of transparency (Transparency = Accountability) is a reality. Jon shares some of my same concerns over the over-use of the word “transparency.” He writes, ” personally, I never like the word transparent. It seems so flimsy; something high-priced people say. It has become bureaucratic-speak or position talking points. With social media, transparency turns into immediate accountability, which is what it should be.”with social media, transparency turns into immediate accountability, which is what it should be.”

Becky Robinson, of Weaving Influence asks, what is the right level of transparency, in her post, Transparency. The post elicited an excellent comment, worth reading, it begins. “I think that there is a danger here of mistaking transparency with openness (and lack of discretion for that matter)”

Thanks to all the contributors. June’s Frontline Festival is all about Conflict and Conflict Resolution. Submissions due June 7th.

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Why Smart People Do Stupid Work

Despite my best efforts to encourage employees to think, question, and recommend change, on any given day, I know there are people on my team doing tasks they know are stupid.

Stupid work includes…

  • reinforcing policies without thinking
  • making decisions that lose customers
  • generating reports no one uses
  • focusing on trivial matters when the sky is falling around them
  • _______ I’ll stop here to let you fill in the blank.
  •  If you find that cathartic here’s a few more blanks___________, ___________.

Bottom line, If it feels stupid it probably is.

Forest Gump said “stupid is as stupid does.” But I know the truth. Stupid is as stupid leads.

Why Do People Do Stupid Work?

  • fear
  • politics
  • uncertainty
  • overload
  • indecision
  • it’s not their job
  • they don’t want to step on anyone’s toes
  • it’s always been done that way
  • they think I want it done that way
  • their boss thinks I want it done that way
  • their boss’s boss’s boss, thinks my boss wants it done that way.

And so the stupidity continues.

Lead for S.M.A.R.T.

Encourage your team to think beyond their silos, understand the big picture, and question the status quo. Help them to make S.M.A.R.T. choices.

Speak up

If something feels stupid, it probably is. Say something.

get More information

Ask questions. Understand the context. Reach across silos.

accept Accountability

Own the problem. Work to find a solution.


Determine what’s important. Do that first.

and Try another approach.

Consider alternatives, ask for ideas, try something new.

The Problem With Opportunities

When I first read Karen Martin’s book, The Outstanding Organization, her definition of a problem versus opportunity stuck with me.

“In recent years, it has become popular to avoid the word problem in organizations, recasting it instead as an opportunity for improvement. While proponents of using more positive terms are surely well meaning, I think they’ve got it entirely wrong.”

If you are regular reader, you now know why I needed to meet her.

I asked Karen about the real risk of calling problems “opportunities.”

She explained that when a problem is labelled as an “opportunity”, the “urgency is lost.” It feels safer, like something good we are moving toward not something bad we need to overcome as soon as possible.

Leaders in great organizations do both. They create a safe environment for surfacing today’s problems, as well identify opportunities that are likely to surface as they move toward their desired future.

I’ll pause here.

  • Are you encouraging your team to surface problems?
  • How do you react?
  • Do you sugar coat the problems you surface?

“So why are people reluctant to surface the real problems in organizations?”

Karen’s theory? A lot of our fears are grounded in our first experiences with surfacing problems with teachers, parents, or even early bosses. And as life would have it, many of those first experiences were with people who are not “emotionally mature,” and reacted negatively. It’s much easier keep your head down, stay the course, and not elicit a potentially negative response.

“So what about TQM and Lean and Six Sigma programs. That should help address problems, right?”

“Efforts at improvement such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, or Lean may look like they produce positive rsults initially as you straighten some of your pillars of execution, but with a cracked foundation, the pillars start to topple again.”

Her suggestion, don’t treat improvement as an isolated program. The primary preparation of blackbelts should be about becoming “competent coaches” to spread the culture and methodology throughout the organization. For most blackbelts it’s about them “doing,” we need to shift that mindset to helping them become great teachers and coaches.

“What makes you skip to work? 

Of course I had to ask my usual question. She shared,

“I’ve seen first hand that work doesn’t have to be so hard. People can and should feel good about their contributions. There’s no reason for work to deplete people. Helping organizations (and their people) get closer and closer to the goal of being excited to come to work every day makes me skip to work.”

Excellent. Skipping is contagious.

Author, speaker, and consultant, Karen Martin, provides practical strategies and tools for building an Outstanding Organization. The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon


How To Build A Community of Collaboration

What is a community?

Can you have one at work?

Should you?

If you want more of a community feel, how do you create it?

Whose job is it?

Senior management? Frontline leaders? The employees? HR?

Do programs produce community or do people?

Today, I raise more questions than answers.

Community Can Happen

Some of the teams and organizations I have been part of have become a community. Some have not.

You know it when you are in it. I was recently reminded of the great community we had built in an organization I worked in years ago. On Saturday, I walked into a funeral home to support Maria, a woman who worked for me many years ago whose mother had passed. I was surprised to see the parade of familiar faces coming in the door, most of whom hadn’t worked with Maria for years. Many of them were retired. The community had spread the word, and they were back to help Maria deal with the loss of her mom. The conversation was important and rich. We hadn’t missed a beat. That’s community.

I watch my husband grow in his firefighter community. They all come in well before their shifts so the person they are relieving can leave early. It’s unspoken. They are always wiling to trade shifts to help one another manage work and family. There is always someone cooking for the group, and everyone contributes to keeping things clean. Watching this gives me a whole new perspective on the word, “union.” If someone isn’t contributing to the community, it’s noticed, but isn’t a large topic of conversation. There is a feeling it will all work out in the end. As far I can tell, the behavior has little to do with someone in management leading the charge.

And so, I’ve been asking everyone I see:

Have you ever worked on a team that had genuine community? What did it look like?

Here’s what I’ve collected so far, what would you add?

  • We trust that everyone’s doing the best they can
  • No one keeps score
  • We have each other’s backs
  • No blindsides
  • We share best practices
  • We don’t let one another fail
  • I can feel safe asking for help
  • We talk well about one another to our boss and others
  • We surface disagreements and fight when needed don’t take conflicts personally
  • I know their families (or at least about them)
  • We celebrate
  • We eat (and drink) together
  • We do volunteer work together
  • ???

To Tell The Truth: The Problem with “Positioning”



WIFM (them).


If you are a leader, you have sat in one of these meetings. How do we explain this to them... in a way they can hear, understand, and feel good about?

How you position a change matters. A lot.

And yet,

If you find yourself in meeting after meeting, working to wordsmith the change to better “position” what is happening, I encourage you to ask one question.

“What if we told them the truth?”

  • … overtime is too high, we must increase productivity
  • … the stock price is stagnant, we will all benefit from better financials
  • …we need to ensure everyone is contributing
  • … this new automation will be more efficient
  • ???

Grown-ups want the truth. Not spin. The truth is most people will respect you far more for telling them the truth than any elegant positioning you can concoct.

When people feel respected, they will respond.

When people feel respected they will join.

 When people feel respected they will try.

On the other hand.

Unfiltered truth shared in an uncaring way creates unproductive havoc.

What If You Start With the Truth?

And then consider…

  • What are the best and worst parts of this change?
  • Who will this impact in what ways?
  • What questions will be most relevant to whom?
  • What additional information should I have available?
  • What other questions will they ask?
  • ???

I have never regretted erring on the side of the truth even when it was scary. Even if the awkward truth creates short-term anxiety, communicated well, the credibility you establish is worth the risk.

How To Tell Your Boss The Truth

I learned this one the hard way.

My first year out of grad school, I was invited to a symposium on self-directed work teams. In academia, I was well versed. I had little practical experience. The morning began with a senior executive sponsor setting the vision. After he spoke, I immediately raised my hand and challenged one of his major assumptions. I shared my “truth.” There was a palpable gasp from the crowd. He was embarrassed, as was I.

It doesn’t matter if my “truth” was true. I am not sure if I ever recovered with that executive.

I believe in telling the truth. I need to hear it. My boss needs to hear it. You boss needs to hear it.

Frame your truth in a way that can be heard.

Truth Packaged Well

Your boss is likely working on her leadership as much or more than you are working on yours. No matter how confident someone appears on the outside, they are dealing with insecurities, complex personal and family dynamics, and personal triggers just like the rest of us.

When done well, your boss will hear the feedback, and be grateful that you cared enough to take the time.

A few tips:

  • Stay centered in your own intentions is this about you or about them, or the chemistry between?
  • Ask– are they open to some feedback?
  • Schedule some time, or look for an opportunity free from distractions
  • Provide the feedback in private
  • Come from a spirit of caring and helping
  • Ask questions, try to understand her point of view
  • Be prepared with specific examples
  • Own the feedback, this is from you, you are not representing the rest of the group
  • What would you add ?

The Debate Continues: 4 Reasons for More Transparency

I recently exposed my internal struggle with transparency in a post at Lead Change Group. Sometimes the best debates start in our own hearts. It turns out, that I am not alone in this personal wrestling match, as so many have shared in their tweets, scoops and comments.

“As leaders grow in responsibility, scope and scale, the issue of “transparency” becomes more significant. Executives have insights into confidential strategy, complex nuances, and serious situations. They also have large teams and a customer base watching every move. It’s common practice for leaders to pull back more as they rise in the business, revealing less about themselves as humans. Some chose to show up strong, serious and a bit mysterious. They create professional distance to drive results. On the other hand, there are also examples of leaders who chose to be more open, sharing more about themselves and why they do what they do. And so, I invite an expanded conversation. What is the right level of transparency? What are the pros and cons of being more closed or open? Read more in The Transparency Debate: How Much Should Leaders Share?”

4 Reasons For More Transparency

Every comment was in favor of more transparency. As one reader shared, “the days of playing hide and seek are over.” And so I offer you the collective wisdom from this debate and additional reasons for transparency.

Stronger Alignment

When we are clear about our values, thought processes, and rationale, our teams get a behind the scenes view of our choices. It is far easier for team members to align with a vision they fully understand. As one reader shared, “How can we define our shared purpose (a meaningful hopeful future we all really care about) if we don’t share some of the stuff that is close to our hearts?”

Deeper Trust

Trust begets trust. When we trust enough to share a bit about ourselves and our thinking, the relationship deepens. When we show we trust in the team, they are more likely to reciprocate. When there is less information available, people do what they can to fill in the blanks. Usually the imagined future and actions are far more distasteful than the reality.

Faster Change

In times of change and crises, my experience is that people want as much information as possible. Transparency reduces anxiety, speculation, and chatter. When people are focused on the work, the change moves more quickly and smoothly.

Broader Development

It just makes sense that people will learn more when the are on the inside. They learn more from understanding the nuances behind a decision and from the underlying struggles. Leaders learn from watching leaders. I would argue that transparent leaders also benefit in their own development. By taking more risks and being more vulnerable, you will get more honest feedback and support that you can use in your own leadership journey.

Should You Be More Transparent?

Where do you fall on the transparency continuum?

What information do you feel comfortable sharing?

What do you choose to hold back and why?

What scares you?

Give the Guy a Brake: The Power to Stop

Give The Guy a Brake: The Power to Stop

So you’ve got everything rolling on all cylinders. The right people, all on the proverbial right bus, all moving in the right direction. Excellent. You’re a motivational leader with a strong vision, inspiring the team toward unprecedented results. This team is fired up, everyone’s with you. Fantastic? Or just about to get dangerous?

Whenever I start a new role, the first person I look for is my “brake guy.” The guy (or gal) who has a deep knowledge of the business at hand, who cares deeply about doing the right thing, and has the courage to say “stop.”

And then my plea goes something like this…

“We are starting on an incredible journey. And trust me, we are going to get the right folks on the bus, all moving in the right direction, and we are going to build momentum. It will be exciting and we’re going to go fast. We might even get folks singing along as we ride (see skipping to work). We will work hard to build an environment of empowerment and constructive dissent. And yet, when it seems just right, it’s harder to stop. You are my brake guy. I need you to be by my side and ready to pull the brake whenever I am about to drive this bus over the edge. I assure you it will happen and when it gets to that point I am counting on you. And yes, I promise I will listen.

Brake guys are invaluable. I have had some fantastic brake guys over the years. It doesn’t happen often, but every time they have used that power, they have been dead on and all I could say was thank you.

Leaders who work fast with big vision, need someone like this around them. I recognize that not every leader fits into this category. If you err on the side of caution, you might need a “push me off the cliff guy,” but that’s a subject for another time.

How Brake Guys Can Help


  • remind you to pause before reacting
  • offer more data and analysis
  • hear what the team is not saying
  • provide historical context
  • remind you of the long-term implications
  • offer options you may not have considered

If you are a brake guy, thank you on behalf of all of us who need you.
And, if need one, find one, and listen well.

Please share: Have you ever had a brake guy?
How was he or she helpful?
Have you served in that capacity?

Trusted and Empowered? 6 Ways to Get Your Boss To Trust You

Last week’s post, A Matter of Trust, generated some great conversation on the Center For Creative Leadership LinkedIn group. One interesting addition was a paradoxical question from Carol Ann Hamilton, “which comes first, trust or trust?” Indeed, trust is a complex two-way street.

In a follow-up conversation she shared:

Let’s make three lists:

1.) Someday
2.) The Bigger Story
3.) Now

Onto “Someday,” place everything you haven’t touched and that really doesn’t relate to anything in the short-term (because if it did, you’d have completed it already).
I ask this paradoxical question to get my facilitation and coaching clients to think about which type of person they generally are: 1) Do you accord trust naturally and only re-evaluate your interactions with someone if it is violated? or 2) Does trust have to be earned with you, so that you dole out your trust and respect when the other proves themselves worthy in your books?

The truth is most leaders (including me), don’t treat everyone on their team with the same level of trust. Whether we “accord trust naturally” or if “it has to be earned,” trust is impacted by behaviors. We learn who we can trust with the most important work. Those we trust, we empower with less oversight. When someone has given us cause to question their competence or follow-through, we are more likely to double-check and provide more hands-on support.

Carol’s question got me thinking: what are the behaviors that lead me to fully trust someone on my team? What behaviors cause me to back off and let them do their thing? Here are my top 6. I hope you will add more to the list in your comments.

Your Boss Will Trust You When You

1. Do what you say you will

Every time. Integrity and consistency are vital to trust. When stuff happens that changes your commitment, communicate quickly and explain why.

2. Follow through

This one is slightly different from #1. Follow-through involves looking at the outcomes of your actions and ensuring they achieved the desired result. “Doing what you say” is not enough if it did not produce the right outcome. There is more work to do. Do it, or ask for help.

3. Develop great peer relationships

You boss cares what other people are saying about you. She wants to know you work well with others, offering and asking for help when needed.

4. Follow the “no blind side” rule

This is the one I see breakdown the most. Always be the first to share your own bad news and what you are doing about it. Don’t let your boss get wind of a breakdown through the grapevine (or worse, from their boss).

5. Know the details

You boss will trust you when you know what you are doing. She will be less likely to want to know every detail if she is sure that you do.

6. Ask what else you can do to help

No boss wants to wonder if their people have enough to do. If you have extra bandwidth offer to do more. Your boss will then trust that you have plenty to do when you are not asking.