Two different organizations recently asked if I could “train” their respective leaders to trust each other within their organizations – and I certainly understood why it was so important to them. “Trust” is essential to “teamwork.”

However, “training” one person to trust another isn’t so straightforward. “Trust” cannot be assigned, required, or taught. Trust must be earned, and the responsibility and accountability for earning it rests squarely on the leader’s shoulders. Moreover, trustworthiness is exhibited by what you do, not what you intend. Even if you are ethical and have the best intentions, if those intentions are not on full display in your behavior, you won’t earn trust.

So how can you – a trustworthy person – demonstrate your integrity? How can you earn trust? Here are a few quick tips:

  • Take blame and share credit quickly
  • Do what you promise and tell the truth
  • Make decisions for the greater good
  • Behave with dignity (even when no one is looking)
  • Act consistently and fairly
  • Be discreet and keep confidences
  • Make all team members feel valued, bearing in mind that insecurity can lead to suspicion and lack of trust
  • Invest time in excellent communication

Additionally, bear in mind that trustworthy leaders – those with high integrity –DO NOT:

  • Gossip
  • Bend the rules to their own advantage
  • Rationalize bad decisions
  • Pit team members against each other or tolerate cliques
  • Ignore certain team members or play favorites

After speaking at length with each organization and probing into their issues, I agreed to facilitate a “trust” session for one organization, but had to turn the other down. It simply wasn’t clear that leadership there was prepared to hold others accountable for behaviors that eroded trust.

For more details on trustworthiness and integrity at work – and how you can earn it — please give me a call – or refer to my book, Leading: The Way – Behaviors That Drive Success.  Find out more at