ATD Blog

Open the Door to Trust

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Businesses founded on trust thrive. When leadership is trustworthy, there is less turnover and more revenue, profit, and shareholder returns. Clearly, people want to do business with people they trust.

How do we establish trust?

To establish trust we focus on the quality of our relationships. The better the quality of our relationships, the more our team members will be engaged, aligned, and have pride in our work. And we’ll achieve better results.

So we need to look at how we are contributing to those relationships. Are we earning the trust of those around us?

First and foremost, we build trust by doing what we say we are going to do. We do our very best work always, and help others. We want to be a source of inspiration and positive energy. This means focusing on the positive; respecting the ideas and time of others; being responsive, helpful and encouraging; and being a good teammate. It means not complaining, judging, or talking behind someone’s back.


It also means being honest and admitting mistakes. This is huge. People are favorably impressed when executives and managers have the humility and quiet confidence to admit when they are wrong, and will look upon them as true leaders.

This really does make a huge impression and inspires trust and admiration. It also opens a genuine conversation, in which team members can share their own needs for improvement, and what they are working toward. From there, we can offer our help and encouragement, and ask for input on company doings.


Certainly, being an attentive listener—listening to understand and learn—helps build and maintain trust. Being an attentive listener is our gift to others.

These conversations are the way we engage and align our teams. This is how we raise morale and productivity. We will not achieve the same results with emails, newsletters, team and group meetings, or conference calls. Face-to-face conversations with team members are essential—they are our duty.

If more executives and managers in business would ask for ideas, advice, input, and feedback from their peers and especially from those who work directly for them, morale would rise significantly and businesses would do a lot better.

The better we are at build trusting relationships, the more we’ll accomplish—and the more efficient and effective we will be.

About the Author

John Keyser is the founder and principal of Common Sense Leadership. He works with executives, helping them to develop organizational cultures that will produce outstanding financial results year after year, as well as ongoing employee and organizational improvement; [email protected].

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