The Secret Ingredients in Building Trust


We all are working so hard and with such focus that sometimes we forget about the people around us. Not that we don’t notice them, it’s just that we assume they will always be there, prepared and ready to contribute. We take for granted that our teams are committed to giving their best since they have never let us down . Why wouldn’t each person want to share his or her most creative and innovative ideas for the good of the project?

 Then all of a sudden we sense a change in attitude. Maybe it actually wasn’t suddenly, but over a period of time. We began to hear fewer suggestions in meetings. We noticed that projects were missing deadlines. Team members weren’t stopping by to run ideas by us or seemed to be making decisions without our involvement or consideration. Why do we feel a bit isolated with less contact from our team?

 Wake-up and smell the lack of trust and connection. Being alone on the branch of a tree, broken off slightly, is a bit unsettling. What is happening is that we are leading in a vacuum without our trusting crew. We are on a team with people who view us in a more skeptical way and who perhaps see us as untrustworthy. How did this happen? How did we not notice the change? How did we lose their trust?

 Here are a few ways we might have broken the bond of trust:

 We stopped asking for input

One of the surest ways to make people feel unappreciated or overlooked is to fail to elicit suggestions from them. We may feel pressed to meet a deadline, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be open to relevant opinions or additions from our team members. How do you feel when you are overlooked or not included?


Before finalizing a project, collaborate with your team by asking  them for ideas that may impact the worthiness and comprehensiveness of the end result. Not only will you gain beneficial information, but you will also build trust with the contributors.

 We no longer “shoot the breeze”

Look around and think about the last time you asked people at work about what challenges they are facing at work or in their personal lives. Begin a conversation that helps you peek into someone else’s life. Thinking of ways to combine an individual’s outside interests with their world at work can be very powerful  as well as enlightening. The “asking” is the important part- not the actual question.


We rarely share our real concerns

Although we may want to protect our teams from the most pressing problems, sharing those issues makes us more authentic and trustworthy.

  • Being truthful breeds support and help from others.
  • Being honest cultivates accurate and realistic expectations.
  • Being clear empowers others to contribute in a more meaningful and productive way.

Don’t be afraid to be “real” and inclusive.

We became less human and caring

Modeling an environment of care and respect goes a long way for leaders. When we show people our vulnerabilities similar to theirs, we open a dialogue and build trust. When we make our interactions just about work, we diminish the depth of our relationships. Leaders who show humanness create more trusting connections.


Ask for input

 Shoot the breeze

Share real concerns

 Become more human and caring

 What are your secret ingredients to building trust?


(photo credit)

16 thoughts on “The Secret Ingredients in Building Trust

  1. Terri, Being aware of when these trust ingredients are lacking is essential. When lacking, we then need to dig deeper to determine the real causes of why we aren’t shooting the breeze more often or holding back real concerns. Identifying those cause will enable us to determine the path forward to restore trust and health of our culture. Great points! Thanks. Jon

  2. I agree, Jon that looking for the root causes of why we are missing the target in connecting with others or sharing our real concerns is important.

    I think sometimes leaders just become so focused on their own “stuff” that they forget about the value of building relationships and cultivating a trusting team.

    As we all know, without trust, there is nothing. Trust is the basic foundation for any team’s success.

    Thanks Jon!

  3. I love this post, Terri. Trust is so important to the productive functioning of a team.

    All of your points are excellent, but from my own experience I’ve found that showing others we value them is an excellent place to start when building trust.

  4. Spot on, Terri! It’s human connection that builds trust – not titles, smarts or credentials.

    I’ve worked with leaders that really do care but get so sucked into the drama, and back to back conference calls that the door to their office stopped opening other than for them to run out, grab lunch and eat at their desk. What was oozing out from behind their closed door was stress and a clear message “don’t bother me. I’m busy.” Their team did stop coming to the door and the trust was replaced with fear. Was not a fun place to work!

    I love that you make it simple and do-able no matter how much time a leader has or the other issues they may be facing. What’s more important than the success of the team?

  5. Showing others we care, support and value them is one of the greatest gifts leaders can give. I have just found that we must be intentional when interacting with our team members and ask all about their lives, not just what goes on at work.

    Thanks so much LaRae for your additions!

  6. I do think that our overwhelming days get the better of us, sometimes and we can’t even come up for air, let alone reach out to someone on our team.

    It really is that simple to make time to connect with each person in a more in depth way. I know when colleagues and clients ask me about my life outside of work, I love to share and I connect with them in a more trusting and meaningful way.

    Thanks Alli!

  7. Love this post Terri. Developing trust is not complicated but it is critical. Leaders can call into the trap of tasks and process and forget the human relationships upon which their leadership depends. Thanks for these essential reminders. Love this.. “Wake-up and smell the lack of trust and connection.”

  8. You are so right, Scott that there is nothing complicated about building trust other than making it a priority to understand people and what truly inspires them.

    I have found that asking questions and learning about what is important to our team members outside of work can really be helpful in developing stronger bonds. When we show others that we care about all parts of their lives, we nurture their souls.

    I appreciate you stopping by and adding your great comments!

  9. Excellent advice Terri. Too often we don’t think about trust until it has been broken. By that time it can be too late to repair it. Connectedness in relations is one of the four main elements of trust and it’s important to pay attention to the small ways we can cultivate trust with others.


  10. I agree Randy that trust is so easy to break and very difficult to repair. That is why leaders need to be aware of how they connect with others. It is essential to be honest, caring and consistent in all of our interactions.
    You are such a guru on trust so I appreciate you stopping by to add your insightful comments!


  11. Advocating for the team in a way that the members feel valued and nurtured is essential for building trust. When people feel that they are merely a cog in the wheel, there is usually little or no transparency or trust. Cultivating the strengths and talents of others and putting them into action is a great way to create a trusting team.

    Thanks Karin!

  12. Good post Terri. Hands off or Hands on needs to be tailored to the situation. Each of us are unique and work differently depending on our strengths and talents.

    I loved your post Terri.

  13. Thanks Lalita and yes we are each unique in the way we communicate and interact with others.

    I have found that understanding how others receive and process information and communication is essential for successful leadership.

    I appreciate your additions!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *