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  • Jim Nicholls

A Culture of Trust


I recently reread a HBR (link) article identifying the three elements of trust a leader needs to hone to be perceived positively by others. This got me thinking, if we can equip all our people within our teams and organisations with these behaviours, skills and ways of working we can build stronger trusting cultures.


In summary the three elements are:

  1. Positive Relationships

  2. Good Judgement/Expertise

  3. Consistency

It's not just for leaders to create positive relationships it should be embedded within the psychological contract everyone has with their organisation. Of the five elements identified, the one I believe is regularly missed is the skill to give honest feedback in a helpful way. I endorse that this should be done when needed, forget waiting for the timely set piece feedback of traditional performance systems; do it when it's needed. As it's a skill and it can be taught; in both giving it and don't forget receiving it!


The second element identifies that leaders should understand the technical aspects of the work as well as have a depth of experience. For me, the ability of the organisation to tap into the knowledge, expertise and experience of everyone and for everyone to understand how they make an important contribution to achieving result, builds not only trust, it also builds a collective self-worth and confidence.


The final element is all about doing what is valued and have said we would do. Nothing is more powerful for cultural change than when people role model this; the opposite is also true and especially for leaders, people look out for the inconsistencies. If we all work guided by values and do what we say we're going to do we all build deeper levels of trust.


The article concludes that positive relationships have the most influence of the three elements. Again, where we don't have a positive relationships or 'big' relationships we're not going to get the outcomes or results we desire. The more positive relationships we have, the better the outcomes and results we all achieve. This can be applied regardless of the context, be it family, friends and work.



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J B Nicholls | Organisation Culture Specialist | ©2020