Organization & Leadership Consulting

Resources for Understanding and Building Trust

A team of professionals build the word trust

Working with others toward a common good is an incredibly rewarding challenge. When leading smart and talented people, stuff happens. At some point, that stuff also falls apart. Why? Unclear expectations, lack of communication, unestablished norms…the list of conflict inducements and trust-erosion factors is varied and long. 

What can a leader do? One sure-fire idea is to develop a resource toolbox that will shape a learning culture. Internalizing the insights of others through reading, audio-learning and video-learning is essential to remaining well equipped and a few steps ahead. We have briefly highlighted a few written resources (books this time) to get you started: 


Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni

In his book Five Dysfunctions of a Team, author Patrick Lencioni asserts trust is foundational to team success. To build trust, team members must willingly share their thoughts and feelings about a topic with forthrightness and respect. Effective teams don’t hold back with each other when it comes to wrestling with ideas. They operate without fear of personal judgment or reprisal. This requires a well-maintained culture of psychological safety. Trust requires appropriate vulnerability with each other. considerable time in face-to-face meetings and work sessions. Here is a partial list from Lencioni’s observations and experience:

  • Ask for and appreciate input and help from one another. 
  • Give the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a conclusion. 
  • Take risks in offering unsolicited feedback and assistance. 
  • Focus energy and resources on important issues and ideas, not politics. 
  • Offer and accept apologies without hesitation, and with humility. 
  • Consciously engage in meetings and opportunities to work together. 


“The Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey

In The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey asserts nothing moves work or relationships along as quickly as trust. Trust inversely affects two outcomes – speed and cost. Low trust = less speed and more cost. High trust = more speed and less cost. Covey identifies five “waves” of trust – Self, Relationship, Organizational, Market, and Societal. These include key principles that underly trust-building behaviors. When structures, systems and individual behaviors align with those principles, the result is greater harmony within the organization. That harmony is in turn attractive to external stakeholders such as customers, vendors, and investors. 


“Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

The manner in which feedback is presented and received has a direct impact on trust levels in individual relationships and the organization as a whole. Past experiences shape how we feel about participating in either. In Thanks for the Feedback, authors Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen identify discomfort “triggers” and how to work through them. Some people appreciate and seek out “constructive critique”. Many are not especially fond of it. Avoiding it can be disastrous over the long haul.  There are ways to move on from negative experiences and learn to give and receive feedback as a positive, edifying practice. Done well, respectful feedback builds and deepens trust in ways that ripple out through both the giver’s and receiver’s sets of relationships.


People place their trust in each other and in their organization’s way of doing things, or not. TurningWest – Your guide to healthy, integrated human work systems, has proven approaches to helping leaders and organizations establish, restore, and develop this essential factor. Contact TurningWest today and run your trust-related concerns by us.


Leave a Reply