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When people think of leadership, they often think of a senior person leading a team of people reporting to them. That's leading down the chain of command. But just as important—or perhaps even more—is showing up in the chain of command. It would help if you also led those seniors to you in your organization's hierarchy. You must understand their vision, align with it, and push information up the chain, prioritizing the most important things they need to know. It would help if you influenced them so that they make the best strategic decisions possible. You must convince them so that they provide the training and resources you need to solve problems, accomplish your mission, and win. You must earn their trust.

Trust Me!

Trust is an essential part of leadership. Trusting those you work with will make it easier to delegate responsibility and build cohesiveness among group members. Group members work better together and communicate more efficiently when they trust one another. As human beings, it is our nature to want to be connected to our loved ones, to live in peace rather than pain, and to seek safety rather than fear. We have difficulty accepting that the things we believe should be good for us are not and that the people who should be good to us are not.

For this reason, mistrust is almost as painful as having our trust betrayed because it goes against our natural inclination. We must work hard to maintain the line of suspicion, to be suspicious, and hold on to the past as the evidence that keeps us alert to the possibilities of violation by someone we love. Because we want to trust, we find ways to ignore the signs, excuse behaviors, and deny our internal alarms and warning signals.

We want people to be whom we believe they are, and in doing so, we open ourselves to opportunities for them to prove they are not full-time members of the trustworthy-people club. Trusting others means paying attention internally and externally without guilt or shame in knowing what you know. It means telling yourself the truth about yourself and others to the degree that you are willing to protect yourself without injuring or insulting them. It means having boundaries that are solid and consistent. It means choosing how to be in a relationship with others in a way that honors them and honors what you feel and know. There are times when drawing a hard line in the sand will protect you and people from themselves and their untrustworthy behavior that they cannot seem to control.

When it comes to trusting family members, we walk a tightrope that many of us struggle with. For some reason, logical or not, we believe that because we are related to someone by blood, they will not or should not have the same human frailties as the rest of humanity. We want to believe that parents will not betray or disappoint us; that uncles, cousins, or grandparents will not violate us; and that our siblings, whether older or younger, will keep us in a special place in their hearts.

Trust Shapes

There are times when we will need the help of others when trying to reach a goal. Group members need to trust each other to work well together. Once we understand trust, we will understand how to develop confidence in others and compel others to trust us.

Types of Trust

We can break trust into two types: "calculus-based trust" (CBT) and "identification-based trust" (IBT). In calculus-based confidence, which is most often related to the workplace, individuals tend to operate on a punishment/ reward system. The value in completing a goal or task is not seen as personal satisfaction but rather because of the consequences of doing so. Individuals may also perform to protect their reputations. In calculus-based trust, trust is built very slowly, one step at a time. However, if one mistake happens, an individual can slip back several actions at once and need to begin to rebuild the trust again.

Trust, but Verify

Trust among team members is good—usually. However, with some teams, too much trust can depress performance, Claus Langford, a professor of organizational behavior at Washington University in St. Louis, states. Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, coined the phrase " Trust but verified," which was made famous by Ronald Reagon in December 1987. The word's true origin is actually from a Russian proverb, "doveryai no proveryai" (Trust but verify).

When we study the concept behind "Trust but verify," it is an oxymoron that makes sense when we examine the word "but," which is often an eraser word. When we study the conjunction "but," we find that it renders what came before it moot. For example, if I tell you I like your T-shirt, the word is vulgar. Did I like your T-shirt? The literal meaning you will typically take away is that I wouldn't say I liked it. The need to verify implies complete trust is lacking. We live in a low-trust world, and we constantly have to filter through everything to determine what information we can ultimately trust. Have you ever blindly trusted an individual and later wished you verified because something important didn't get done? Many leaders recognize the cost of relying too much on others; however not nearly as much at identifying the cost of not trusting enough. When we extend trust to others, we usually receive more trust. When leaders give orders, they need to verify or confirm that those orders were carried out in the most efficient manner possible. We must trust and ensure holding others accountable for their actions. We must confirm because, while we want to trust that the other individual is trustworthy, there may be a chance that the other individual did not understand our orders or could not follow through as intended. To reduce the chances of disappointing results, leaders must confirm that their expectations have been met.

The confirmation processes

The leader must develop their own confirmation process, which is merely part of their due diligence and holding individuals accountable for their actions. When leaders give orders, many parties are involved, and often we act as agents for individuals as we trust people to perform a specific task. Holding people accountable and confirming that things are being done correctly is just being prudent, honoring the trust others have in us. If people understand that we must be responsible for our due diligence, they will be more likely to perform at higher standards.

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