Trust: The Foundation of Strong Leadership

Trust_Lead Vantage

Trust is the foundation of everything we do.   

Dating back to the caveman era, human beings looked to their leaders to keep them safe and free from harm. Fast forward to today’s modern world, and that genetic need has not changed; we still look to our leaders to keep us safe. However, our ‘safety’ in our modern world requires TRUST.  

People inherently want to be trusted. We thrive with trust, and we respond to trust.  

There are three critical components to trust; we consistently show up with integrity, live true to our values, and demonstrate our ability to maintain a track record that speaks for itself. 

As leaders, we set the tone for our organizations, and thus, we must deploy the behaviour we want to see in our teams. If we want to create a culture ripe with trust, we must be clear on the values and the behaviours that embody those values.  

To build momentum, we must co-create team goals, continually monitor our progress, and measure our success to maintain a collaborative track record. 

There are costs and benefits to ignoring and building trust in our teams.  

All of which will either positively or negatively impact our teams, culture, and bottom line. 

Benefits from a high trust culture  Adverse impacts from a lack of trust 
  • Improved collaboration 
  • Increased team retention 
  • Improved engagement 
  • Heightened loyalty 
  • Enhanced innovation 
  • Increased bureaucracy 
  • Higher turnover 
  • Demotivated teams 
  • Minimal effort 
  • Stagnation and complacency 

All actions and behaviours either contribute to building and enhancing trust or diminish and destroy trust. Ultimately, having a higher ‘trust balance’ gives leaders credibility during tough times. In addition, building trust daily helps ensure our teams will be there for us when we need them most. 

Below are thirteen strategies of a high-trust leader: 

  1. Demonstrate a propensity to trust. 
    • Extend trust to team members that have earned it. Offer them autonomy to complete the job, which builds confidence and motivation.
    • Conditionally offer trust to those that are still earning it. Set them up for success through planning, coaching, mentoring, and frequent check-in points.
  2. Talk straight.
    • Be crystal clear on where people stand with you. This may require a difficult conversation; however, they will appreciate and respect you for it.
  3.  Demonstrate respect. 
    • Show respect to everyone on the team regardless of their title. Take the time to get to know everyone’s names and something about their personal life, remember small details such as weekend plans or vacations, and follow up.
  4. Create transparency. 
    • Team members want to be informed of the vision and direction of their company. They want to understand why decisions are made. 
    • Run a transparency test. Consider the costs of sharing the information and the costs of not sharing the information. Remember that people will make up a worst-case scenario without information. 
    • When you can’t be transparent due to privacy or confidentiality, explain why you can’t be transparent to avoid the rumour mill.
  5. Right wrongs. 
    • This is more than apologizing; it is about making things right. Your team will remember and can stay angry for long periods of time and making things right will get you back on track and focused on the future.
  6. Deliver results. 
    • Focus on the right results. Involve your team in determining the goals, direction, and objectives. This will ensure total commitment and buy-in with everyone and propel you forward.
  7. Get better. 
    • This starts with self-awareness and your blind spots. First, consider what requires attention and development. Then, seek feedback with three easy questions; what should I keep doing, what should I stop doing, and what should I start doing?
  8. Show loyalty. 
    • Speak about everyone in your organization as if they were in the room. 
    • Give credit where credit is due. 
    • Advocate and represent people who cannot advocate or represent themselves.
  9. Keep commitments. 
    • As promised, show up for meetings and events, fully engaged and prepared. 
    • Always do what you say you will do, both implicitly and explicit.
  10. Confront reality. 
    • Address issues head-on, don’t play the blame game, course correct, and recognize that the best-laid plans don’t always work.
  11. Clarify expectations. 
    • Avoid ambiguity. Write out agreements and commitments by the team and obtain confirmation from all relevant parties before moving forward.
  12. Practice accountability. 
    • Hold yourself accountable first and everyone else second.  
    • As leaders, we need to take responsibility for all results, good and bad.
  13. Listen first. 
    • Listen to understand, not to respond. Focus on getting things right, not being right.  
    • Find out what is important to your team members by probing and asking open-ended questions.  

Companies with high-trust cultures enjoy higher productivity, efficiency, and innovation. High-trusting teams positively impact your bottom line; with trust in place, things get done faster as we don’t need to second guess decisions or fight through red tape. As a result, our teams are empowered, motivated, and engaged! 



Can you imagine what your company would look like with a high-trust culture? What would it mean to you to have engagement and commitment from your team?  

If you would like to explore ways to build trust within your organization, please visit our website to learn more about us at or get in touch with us at

Linda Lucas

Linda Lucas

Linda Lucas brings 25+ years of experience in finance, operations, and strategy to the table. Her expertise lies in coaching, mentoring, and facilitating programs that empower and increase collaboration.

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