5 Elements of Trust

How trusting is your team?

Most leaders know the importance of trust. However, not all leaders know how to inculcate trust. The hard reality is that trust is meticulously built and easily broken. It’s both undeniably needed and neglected. Trust is like a jigsaw puzzle...it requires unique and separate pieces to be applied and connected at the same time in order to create a beautiful image. When team leaders forget to examine and assemble the pieces, trust can quickly erode in the workplace.

The aim of this action article is to offer a brief refresher on the core elements of team trust. You are, most likely, already familiar with these elements. However, refreshers are reminders and reminders serve as reinforcers. By taking the time to be reminded of the critical elements of trust, you will help reinforce what matters most for your team’s top fuel source and thus strengthen your leadership and collaborative efforts.

5 Elements of Trust


One of my favorite questions to ask my clients is “How do you spell trust?” I then quickly respond with, “T.I.M.E.” Instantly, the lightbulbs in the room activate. Many recognize and can attest that trust is earned in the trenches and is rarely acquired quickly. The speed of trust is slow and careful. Great teams understand that time is credibility. It’s not something that can be microwaved. Teammembers and co-workers need the time together working on projects, rubbing shoulders, and sharing common experiences as togetherness fosters fruitfulness.


A common military phrase I appreciate is “I’ve got your six!” It simply means “I’m protecting your back.” Originally referenced among fighter pilots, this phrase has been adapted and utilized for troops on the ground as well. This phrase and principle is all about reliability. The pilot or soldier in front can focus on their immediate task without having to looking over their shoulder. When it comes to building and fostering trust, competence is of the utmost importance. Team-mates need to know that their counterparts can ‘pull their own weight.’ They need to know that follow-through and excellence can always be expected. Reliability breeds radical interdepence. This interconnected dependability unlocks innumberable possibilities!


The ability to understand and be understood by one another is essential for team vitality and trust. It’s no surprise that most team problems can be traced back to communication breakdown. When team-members make it a priority to practice clear communication, they are prioritizing the opportunity to be understood. When team-members make it a priority to practice probing or clarification, they are prioritizing the opportunity to understand. When team-members make it a priority to utilize active listening, they are reinforcing understanding. Teams that emphasize crystal clear communication and understanding avoid the snares of judgement or assumptions which, too often, poison high potential organizations.


When teams exit their comfort zones together, their trust grows. When teams focus on developing their core skills, their trust grows. When teams tackle hard challenges and obstacles, their trust grows. When teams take on acquiring new skills, their trust grows. Trust increases when teams can be stretched beyond their normal capacity. The presence of difficulty expands interdependability. Not shying away from a challenge invites opportunities to grow together as a cohesive team.


Trusting teams embrace 360 degree feedback. Humility must be present in every moment - especially during evaluation or accountability conversations. The willingness to accept candor and feeback is essential for the continuation of trust. The willingness to learn and critically evaluate one another is a powerful determinate for fostering deep trust. When each voice is honored, accepted, and appreciated, feedback loops will improve. Maintaining a teachable atttitude is a true benchmark of deep trust on the team.

Join the conversation

  • Which element needs your attention this week?

Featured Posts
Posts are coming soon
Stay tuned...
Recent Posts