A consistent topic right now with some of my clients seems to be that of trust. A quick google search on the topic of trust gives me 3,760,000,000 results indicating that we know how important it is, yet, as I troll through the numerous pages on google, it becomes even clearer to me that building it and maintaining it is where we seem to fall down.

It is easy to say that trust in organisations starts and stops with the leader. And, although I agree with this to a certain extent in that a leader creates a culture that demonstrates the acceptable behaviour within a business or a team and ultimately owns the “vibe”, I also believe that each individual has a responsibility to themselves and their colleagues for their own relationships that they cultivate. The depth and sincerity of these relationships is up to you, the individual, not the leader. The leader creates the atmosphere that nurtures and allows trust to continue to grow, but each individual has some responsibility to form their own meaningful, sincere and trusting relationships.

It seems simple, right? Build a team with mutual trust and respect and the rest will follow. Yet, why then are some teams able to do this and others are not? What are the missing ingredients?

Trust must be nurtured and consistently worked on by all. It must be given in order to be taken and it absolutely involves a significant amount of emotional intelligence and vulnerability.

When it comes to building trust, I believe there are key ingredients that either add to the relationship, or take from it and ultimately dictate the level of trust at play.


(Reliability + Integrity + Compassion + Credibility) – Self Interest

If an individual’s self-interest or ‘agenda’ is greater than any one of the other key ingredients, a genuine and trusting relationship will naturally suffer.

Still wondering how to cultivate greater trust with your team members or colleagues? Here are some practical tips below that align with the trust equation above. With any action you take to work on relationships consistency and sincerity is key.


  1. Use the word “WE” instead of “I” and “ME” … this will help cultivate a team mentality as opposed to an individual based mentality where each person is only out for themselves with their own agenda.
  2. Treat everyone with the same respect regardless of status or position in the organisation – if your colleagues see you speak one way to a key executive leader and then another way to the receptionist or cleaner, you’ll come across as non-genuine, out for yourself and ultimately untrustworthy.
  3. Remove your ego and the need to be right or have the answer all the time – one of the best ways to build relationships and a more positive reputation within an organisation is actually by being honest when you don’t know something. What sets people apart is their willingness to work it out when they don’t know an answer!
  4. Seek to understand others before you respond with your own opinion. So often we listen purely to respond, we don’t listen to truly hear people. Take the time to understand where others are coming from by really listening to what they are saying. How will you know you’ve done this? You’ll be in a true two-way dialogue, instead of just two people overlaying their thoughts to one another without any true connecting or building language in the conversation.
  5. Small and consistent gestures can make a huge difference when building authentic working relationships – e.g. grabbing an extra coffee on the way to work, grabbing someone’s printing off the printer, saying good morning when you arrive each day etc.
  6. Having an opinion is important, but acknowledge that yours isn’t the only one, nor is it always right. Your opinion is the lens of which you view the world, just as another person’s is theirs. Being open to the influence of others will help build more trusting relationships, as opposed to just your desire to influence.
  7. Appreciate the unique strengths, experiences and skills that colleagues bring to the table and take the time to learn from them and understand them. Take a true interest. Just as you bring a unique skill set and background to a workplace, so do your colleagues. Teams flourish and see outstanding results when they can learn to appreciate the differences their colleagues bring, instead of viewing it as a threat.
  8. Consider body language when speaking to people – the words that come out of our mouths are just one part of what we are actually saying. The way we say it (our tone), and what our body language is doing also sends a strong message. As an example, standing over someone whilst talking to them with your arms crossed is going to send a message of frustration or intimidation. Staring at your computer screen whilst someone is talking to you will indicate you are not interested in what someone is saying, etc. Always consider body language.
  9. Share some of yourself with people and take a genuine interest in others in return. Being vulnerable and honest with people about who you are, how you’re feeling, your past experiences etc is a great way to break down barriers and build relationships within teams and colleagues. In addition, learn about your colleagues and take a genuine interest in who they are.
  10. Challenge yourself and reflect on your behaviours at the end of each working day. Take 5 minutes to reflect on what went well for you and what could you learn and take away for a better tomorrow? Building trust is an ongoing journey and one that will continue to need to be worked on for it to stay strong. Like with any relationships, trust can be broken much quicker than it can be built.

Finally, ask yourself this question – You want to improve your relationships through increasing trust, yet, what are you doing to increase your trust in others in return?

Are there things in addition to the above that leaders specifically can do to cultivate high performing and highly trusting teams? Absolutely! Watch this space for that blog to come shortly. For now though, the above is all within each individuals control which is a perfect place to put your focus.

I am currently accepting new coaching clients and small remote-based projects in the People and Culture space. If you, or your business has something you need some support or guidance with, flick me a note and let’s connect!