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Building Trust

Trust. It's a tiny word with a lot of power and influence. We might even say it is among the most valuable things in the world, as it can take years to earn and a matter of seconds to lose.




Most of us are fully aware of the benefits of building trust. Plenty of books, podcasts and blog posts exist on the subject matter. We understand it and agree with it, but are we really doing it?


Let me share a story (in my wife's words) of how she and her brother shattered trust one day.


Every school kid looks forward to summer break. Days of no homework, being lazy and hanging out with friends. One summer when we were kids, my brother and I were spending a beautiful, lazy summer day at home, minding our own business, while our parents were at work. The sun was high in the sky, the temperature was perfect, but let’s just say, a storm was rolling in. That storm consisted of more friends over than we were allowed when our parents weren’t home, people climbing on the roof shooting hoops from new angles and a mom getting home early from work to see everything taking place. It was the perfect storm for shattering trust.


Trust Defined

Trust defined is a confident belief in someone or something. It is the confident belief in an entity to do what is right, to deliver what is promised and to the be the same every time in spite of the circumstances. My wife and her brother certainly didn’t live up to that definition that day.


Steven M. R. Covey, in his book The Speed of Trust, views trust this way, “There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy and civilization throughout the world-one thing. If removed, it will destroy the most powerful government, most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love. On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. That one thing is trust.”


In my consulting, I see the importance of trust, but trust is rarely talked about overtly. When it is discussed, trust is positioned as a “one and done” training event. Rather, trust needs to be hardwired into an organization’s strategy, culture and people. Nothing is as profitable as building trust. When trust is earned, a significant advantage is gained far beyond the fiscal bottom line. When leveraged consistently, trust increases performance, productivity, innovation, loyalty, creativity and morale. Trust is the most effective way of doing business.


David Horsager, in his book The Trust Edge, states the impact of trust this way, “in every interaction we increase or decrease trust.” Ponder that! In every interaction we increase or decrease trust. We’re constantly building or breaking down trust.


How Do We Build Trust in Every Interaction?

Horsager identified eight key areas, or pillars, for building lasting trust that brings lasting results.

  • Pillar 1: Clarity. People trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous. Clarity unifies and unites.

  • Pillar 2: Compassion. Listen and think beyond yourself. Showing care and compassion and putting people before things, improves relationships.

  • Pillar 3: Character. Integrity and morality make up character. Demonstrate character through humility, principles, intention, self-discipline and accountability.

  • Pillar 4: Competency. We must be highly competent and increasingly capable in areas we want to be trusted.

  • Pillar 5: Commitment. Passion, responsibility and follow-through are essential ingredients of commitment.

  • Pillar 6: Connection. Being genuine, asking great questions, listening and collaborating are keys to connection.

  • Pillar 7: Contribution. Attention, resources, time and help show a willingness to contribute. Delivering results builds trust.

  • Pillar 8: Consistency. Consistency of intent, actions and integrity build a brand or a reputation. Actions, not words, build trust.

My wife and her brother lost their parents trust that day in a matter of seconds because they displayed a lack of character and consistency. That interaction decreased trust.


There are challenges to overcome and walls to be torn down when building trust. This is not the easy stuff of our day to day work and/or life. Discipline and diligence will be necessities. But nothing will be more worth it to you or your organization. Think about these questions on building trust in your work and/or life:

  • Pillar 1: Are you clear with your expectations on projects or deadlines?

  • Pillar 2: What steps could you take to be a better listener?

  • Pillar 3: Who is someone you admire for high character? Why?

  • Pillar 4: What are you doing to stay relevant and competent?

  • Pillar 5: Are you willing to accept full responsibility for your actions?

  • Pillar 6: How can you intentionally connect and collaborate with others?

  • Pillar 7: Do you do what you say in the time promised?

  • Pillar 8: Are you consistent in words and actions?

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