3 Truths About Trust

Virtually everyone agrees that trust is a vital ingredient for healthy and successful relationships. Unfortunately, most people don’t think about trust until it’s been broken. That’s the worse time to realize its importance because by then it may be too late to fix the damage that’s been done. Instead of leaving trust to chance, we need to have an intentional focus on proactively building it. When our attention is focused on a specific goal, our energy will flow in that direction to help us accomplish it. There are three truths about trust we should keep in mind as we strive to build high-trust relationships.

abcd-model-newTrust is a skill—Trust doesn’t “just happen.” It’s a skill that can be learned and developed through intentional effort. In order to do so, it’s helpful to have a framework of what comprises trust in a relationship. In our Building Trust training program, the ABCD Trust Model is used to represent the four elements of trust. Trust is built in a relationship when you are Able, Believable, Connected, and Dependable. Able people are trusted because they are competent in what they do. They have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform well in their roles. The second element of trust is Believable, which is acting with integrity. You are Believable when you behave in alignment with your values and those of the organization, are honest, ethical, and fair in your dealings with others. Connected people build trust because they develop rapport with others, are good communicators, and have the best interests of others in mind. Finally, Dependable people do what they say they will do, are accountable, and responsive to others.

Trust drives results—Trust isn’t just a “soft” interpersonal skill that fills our relationships with warm fuzzies, unicorns, and rainbows. Trust drives bottom-line results in organizations. The Great Place to Work Institute has shown that high-trust organizations have 50% lower turnover than low-trust organizations, and employees who trust their leaders perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave the organization. Our own research has shown that people who trust their leaders intend to perform at higher levels, use their discretionary energy to benefit the organization, remain with the organization, endorse the organization as a good place to work, and be a good organizational citizen.

Trust begins with you—Without risk, there’s no need for trust. Trust and risk go hand in hand. In order for trust to develop, someone has to be the first to extend it. It’s been said that the best way to see if someone is trustworthy is to trust them. Someone has to make the first move and I advocate that each of us needs to take the responsibility to extend trust to others. When we do so, we open the door for others to prove themselves trustworthy and reciprocate by extending trust to us. It’s a virtuous cycle that reinforces itself.

Building trust is like raising plants in a garden. You have to plant the seeds, feed them, nurture their development, and regularly tend the garden. The same is true in our relationships. You have to plant the seeds of trust, feed them, and nurture their development. You may not see results immediately, but over time you’ll see the level of trust grow and one day will reap the rewards of having high-trust relationships.

18 Comments on “3 Truths About Trust

  1. Great stuff! People just don’t seem get how important trust is period and particularly within an organization. I’m working with a leadership team at the moment and the appreciation for the concept is unequal at best. It will be interesting!

    • Thanks, Robert, for adding your comments. Keep up the good work you’re doing. It’s needed now more than ever.


  2. Hi Randy

    From my perspective the most important point is number 3. Trust begins with oneself. Even when leading large project I refuse to control people as I found out that they work a lot better when being trusted. This has nothing to do with “laissez-fair” but with respect. Of course there are people you have to remind to a deadline from time to time. But why should people trust me if I haven’t go the guts to trust them?

    Have a sunny week.

    P.S. I like your blog’s new design.

    • Hi Brigitte!

      It’s been said that the best way to see if a man is trustworthy is to trust him. I agree with you that people will perform best when they are trusted and respected.

      Thanks for the shout-out on the new design. I’m still fine tuning things.

      Be well,


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  5. Randy, Trust is like planting seeds. We need to do so with care and planning and tend to it in growth. With the current state of trust, we need to plant a lot of seeds! Your ABCD model is an essential place to begin. Thank you, Jon

    • Thank you Jon! I appreciate your comments. We all need to be planting as many seeds as possible…keep up the good work!


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  7. Great foundation piece. I have seen over time an additional component (you may refer to it) and that is V for Vulnerable. Trust is strengthened when we realise that we all are imperfect and that we learn from errors. Being vulnerable shows a willingness to learn. Much more valuable than the often used skill of covering up a mistake and learning how to hide problems.

    • Excellent point Mark. In our ABCD model vulnerability falls under the “Connected” element. People need to see their leaders as real people, and that can be achieved by leaders establishing rapport with their people and sharing information about themselves.

      Thanks for adding your thoughts.


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  10. Once you lose trust in an organization or its leadership, that trust will grab respect by the hand and they both are gone.

  11. Once we lose the trust It is not easy to rebuild, but it is possible.

  12. Let’s strive to become a : “High-trust organization that have 50% lower turnovers than low-trust organizations, with employees who trust their leaders and in-turn perform 20% better with 87% less staff persons leaving the organization.
    Trust and risk go hand in hand. In order for trust to develop, someone has to be the first to extend it.

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