That you build Trust/psychological safety – Leadership by Example

Avoid surprises, ask curious not judgmental questions, build creditability, build reliability, show authenticity and share credit

“When trust is extended, it breeds responsibility in return. Emulation and peer pressure regulates the system better than hierarchy ever could.”

— Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations

This takes time and effort. Rarely will people give you trust. Usually you will see it form quickly in a crisis or slowly through being consistent.

In the book ‘The Trust Equation’ by Steven Drozdeck and Lyn Fisher. They shared an equation that you build trust through having Credibility, Reliability, Authenticity divided by Perception of Self Interest.  A good article by Anne Raimondi covers this in detail.

Another perspective is advocated by The Trusted Advisor where The Trust Equation uses four objective variables to measure trustworthiness. These four variables are best described as: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy and Self-Orientation.

Here are my guides for building trust:

  1. Be available and present
  2. To build trust, you must respect how others think and feel. That’s why it’s important to listen first.
  3. Empathize- moving from judgement to caring, from isolation to connection, from indifference or dislike to understanding.
  4. Proactive/Preventive support
  5. Follow through – Do what you say you are going to do
  6. Be fair and consistent – Do not play favourites
  7. Be explicit – Do not make them guess what you want from them
  8. Be an expert on something
  9. Build relationships that encompasses more than work
  10. Ask curious not judgement questions
  11. Don’t gossip
  12. Understand the boundaries – they may shift sometimes without warning and not be about you, people have lives beyond work

Countering Perception of Self Interest:

  1. Give credit to correct people i.e. who did the work
  2. Advocating may get what you need but pay attention to your peers reactions
  3. Highlight common goals amongst those have this perception
  4. Pay attention to the political and cultural landscape
  5. In cultures where people are passive aggressive they may not give you the feedback, but rather talk behind your back.  This maybe resolved by searching out feedback directly.

Be Present

When you regularly and skillfully listen to others, you stay in touch with their reality, get to know their world and show you value their experience. Active listening involves asking questions, along with concentrated effort to understand your partner’s answers–all while resisting the urge to judge. Careful listening helps you identify each individual team member’s strengths, weaknesses, and style of communication.

I find writing comments and questions down particularly helpful in keeping focused in a conversation

Additionally, you send the message that what’s important to them is important to you.

Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking.[1] It can be defined as “being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career” (Kahn 1990, p. 708).[2] In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected. It is also the most studied enabling condition in group dynamics and team learning research.


Google researched what made teams successful and Code-named Project Aristotle. Psychological safety was at the top off the list. Vulnerability is a key component not something you hear often from from a bro culture.

Courage replicates, if you show it, others will follow and copy your behavior. For example if no asks questions in a Town Hall, you ask them, even the the tough ones and people will copy you.


Questions on Trust:

  • Do you know your team – who are they at work and home
  • Understand what motivates them, do not assume, ask them and explore it
  • Get to know who they are, what gravities do they have in their life e.g. family, hobbies, favorite reads/movies
  • What is their leadership style(s), does it adapt depending on the context?
  • How do they like to be led, how do they report to you?, how do they like to receive feedback check both for positive and performance improving
  • Tell them how you like to receive feedback
  • What level of transparency do you prefer?
The importance of working together

Resources for Trust:

Back to the list of traits

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