Trust Builds Business Tools and Resources

...solve thorny business challenges in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea


If high trust drives costs down and profits up, why not build more trust in your workplace?

You know how fundamental trust is in your life – it is the backbone of your every success.

Trust makes everything easier in all walks of life – business, family, sport, whatever you are involved in.  Where there is trust, there is success and, more importantly, happiness.

So ask yourself this one question:


How much value do you and your team put on building, maintaining and nurturing a high-trust work environment?

STOP thinking that trust is a soft, illusive quality you either have or don’t have

START seeing trust as a practical, tangible, actionable asset you can build in your business

The one ‘BREAKTHROUGH QUESTION’ you must ask to help yourself…

In a high-trust working environment, costs go down, speed improves, your team and your customers are more engaged and satisfied and your business transactions are easier.  You will be able to grow your team, your business and your profits – simply by focusing on building, maintaining and improving trust.

A low-trust working environment is the polar opposite. Costs are high, and everything is so much harder and takes so much longer. There is distrust, resentment, secrets, rivalries, conflict and defensive and protective behaviour and communication. It also makes for a thoroughly miserable working environment.

So when it comes to the importance of trust to the future of your business, it’s pertinent and extremely important to ask yourself this one question:


How much value do you and your team put on building, maintaining and nurturing a high-trust work environment?

Trust was the key for Warren Buffet when it came to a major business transaction.

Imagine how daunting, nerve-wracking, and downright difficult it is to start and conclude a billion-pound business acquisition.

Acquisitions of this size normally mean weeks and months of drawn-out meetings and wrangling, legal arguments and due diligence, costing millions.

So, how did Warren Buffet complete the £1 billion purchase of McLane Distribution, with its 14,500 workers, from Wal-Mart, based on a two-hour meeting?

High trust between Warren Buffet and Wal-Mart executives made a quick deal possible.

In your business low trust is a tax, while high trust is a dividend.

Warren Buffet and Wal-Mart both experienced the speed of trust in the McLane Distribution deal – they experienced a trust dividend because speed improved and costs reduced.

For more on the sale of McLane Distribution to Warren Buffet and the importance of the relationship of trust between Warren Buffet and the Wal-Mart executives, click here.

Trust and cooperation are not standard in business and yet we know they should be.

But there are two attributes that every single business leader, including you, has the power to develop. These attributes will help you create the type of business you can be proud to call your own.

They are Empathy and Perspective.

Click this link to watch Simon Sinek, author of multiple bestselling books including Together is Better, talk in more detail about these two attributes and their importance when building a trust relationship.

Trust vs Mistrust exercise

Take a minute right now and think of a person with whom you have a high-trust relationship—perhaps a boss, co-worker, customer, spouse, parent, sibling, child or friend.

1. Describe a high-trust relationship

a) What’s it like?

b) How does it feel?

c) How well do you communicate?

d) How quickly can you get things done?

e) How much do you enjoy this relationship?

Now think of a person with whom you have a low-trust relationship. Again, this person could be anyone at work or at home.

2. Describe a low-trust relationship

a) What’s it like?

b) How does it feel?

c) How is the communication?

d) How quickly can you get things done? Does it flow quickly and freely . . . or do you feel like you’re constantly walking on land mines and being misunderstood? Do you work together to get things done quickly . . . or does it take a disproportionate amount of time and energy to finally reach agreement and execution?

e) Do you enjoy this relationship . . . or do you find it tedious, cumbersome and draining?

The difference between a high- and low-trust relationship is palpable!

“In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing, and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very measured, even precise, and they’ll still misinterpret you.” – Stephen M.R. Covey

Can you imagine the difference it would make if you were able to increase the amount of trust in the important personal and professional relationships in your life?

Adapted from Stephen M. R. Covey – The Speed of Trust

7 levels of company trust - where are you?

To help you define and measure the impact of the trust levels at play in your organisation, have a look at which of these 7 levels best reflect where you are. You may prefer to isolate a particular team or project.

Using this brilliant signposting tool from Stephen M.R. Covey’s insightful book, The Speed of Trust, will enable you to identify how much more effective you and your team could be if you grew or restored trust together.

As Covey suggests:

(S x E) T = R

STRATEGY multiplied by EXECUTION multiplied by TRUST delivers the RESULTS you get.

If you’re experiencing mistrust – levels 1 to 4 below – then your results will never match the goals you have for your business.

Build, maintain or restore trust so that you experience levels 5 and 6 and you will be more successful. Feels like common sense, don’t you think?

Click this link to a very short video from the author Stephen M.R. Covey about this multiplier effect.

1. NONEXISTENT TRUST – 80% trust minus (tax)


In the organisation

In personal relationships

Dysfunctional environment and toxic culture (open warfare, sabotage, grievances, lawsuits, criminal behavior)

Dysfunctional relationships

Militant stakeholders

Hot, angry confrontations or cold, bitter withdrawal

Intense micromanagement

Defensive posturing and legal positioning (“I’ll see you in court!”)

Redundant hierarchy

Labeling of others as enemies or allies

Punishing systems and structures

Verbal, emotional, and/or physical abuse

2. VERY LOW TRUST – 60% trust minus (tax)


In the organisation

In personal relationships

Unhealthy working environment

Hostile behaviors (yelling, blaming, accusing, name-calling) followed by periods of brief contrition

Unhappy employees and stakeholders

Guarded communication

Intense political atmosphere with clear camps and parties

Constant worrying and suspicion

Excessive time wasted defending positions and decisions

Mistakes remembered and used as weapons

Painful micromanagement and bureaucracy

Real issues not surfaced or dealt with effectively

3. LOW TRUST – 40% trust tax (minus)


In the organisation

In personal relationships

Hidden agendas

Energy draining and joyless interactions

Militant stakeholders

Evidence gathering of other party’s weaknesses and mistakes

Political camps with allies and enemies

Doubt about others’ reliability or commitment

Many dissatisfied employees and stakeholders

Hidden agendas 

Bureaucracy and redundancy in systems and structures

Guarded (often grudging) dispersing of information

4. SOME TRUST ISSUES – 20% trust tax (minus)


In the organisation

In personal relationships

Some bureaucratic rules and procedures

Regular misunderstandings

Unnecessary hierarchy

Concerns about intent and motive

Slow approvals

Interactions characterized by tension

Misaligned systems and structures

Communications colored by fear, uncertainty, doubt and worry

Some dissatisfied employees and stakeholders

Energy spent in maintaining (instead of growing) relationship

5. TRUST IS NOT AN ISSUE – no tax – no dividend (neutral)


In the organisation

In personal relationships

Healthy workplace

Polite, cordial, healthy communications

Good communication

A focus on working together smoothly and efficiently

Aligned systems and structures

Mutual tolerance and acceptance

Few office politics

No worries

6. TRUST IS A VISIBLE ASSET – 20% trust dividend (plus)


In the organisation

In personal relationships

The focus is on work

Cooperative, close, vibrant relationships

Effective collaboration and execution

A focus on looking for and leveraging one another’s strengths

Positive partnering relationships with employees and stakeholders

Uplifting and positive communication

Helpful systems and structures

Mistakes seen as learning opportunities and quickly forgiven

Strong creativity and innovation

Positive energy and positive people

7. WORLD CLASS TRUST – 40% trust dividend (plus)


In the organisation

In personal relationships

High collaboration and partnering

True joy in family and friendships, characterized by caring and love

Effortless communication

Free, effortless communication

Positive, transparent relationships with employees and all stakeholders

Inspiring work done together and characterized by purpose, creativity, and excitement

Fully aligned systems and structures

Completely open, transparent relationships

Strong innovation, engagement, confidence and loyalty

Amazing energy created by relationship

Adapted from Stephen M. R. Covey – The Speed of Trust

10 reasons trust is more relevant than ever

Stephen M.R. Covey, through the FranklinCovey organisation, signposts 10 reasons trust should be taken seriously by all leaders. You’ll find this brief article here:

The sections headings are as follows, but we suggest you grab a cuppa and check out Covey’s thinking to justify your time and effort investment in building trust in your business:

  1. We live in a world of declining trust
  2. Trust is the engine of the sharing economy
  3. The nature of work today demands increasing collaboration
  4. Change is the new normal in a disruptive world
  5. Our multigenerational workforce necessitates a different approach to how work gets done
  6. Trust is the critical enabler of strategic initiatives
  7. Trust itself has become a key strategic initiative
  8. “Culture” has re-emerged as an imperative for organizational success
  9. Yesterday’s style of management is insufficient for today’s leadership needs
  10. Trust is the new currency of our world today

13 trust behaviours - see, speak and behave with trust

Covey talks brilliantly in the video below about the 13 behaviours that build trust, the opposite behaviours and, critically, the counterfeit of the 13 trust behaviours.

One of the 13 behaviours is Talk Straight.  The opposite of talk straight is to lie. It’s clear that when you lie to people, you’ll create mistrust. This is patently obvious.

Most people don’t blatantly lie. What Covey does well is signpost the counterfeit of all 13 trust behaviours.

FOR EXAMPLE: Talk straight builds trust. Tell lies and you build mistrust. You also build mistrust when you use the counterfeit of talk straight (phony, bogus, fake – looks like the real thing but isn’t).

The counterfeit to talk straight is to spin, twist, manipulate, flatter, posture or beat about the bush – you tell the truth but withhold information or twist the message to suit your personal ends rather than those of the team or the organisation as a whole. You didn’t lie, but you did not talk straight.

Nixon and Clinton both felt the cost of lying to the American public. It’s easy enough to see the impact of similar lies and deception by UK Government leaders – hence the reducing trust levels we have towards our politicians, their parties and even, as a result, the rule of law – irrespective of the party in charge.

What if you could make Covey’s insights into trust highly relevant and actionable to you, to your team and to your business?

You can.

First let’s make it about you, by identifying a relationship – either professional or personal – in which you want to build or restore trust.

Next, score yourself on the 13 behaviours of trust – below you’ll find a simple, clear one-pager to help you do this.

This will enable you to see in which behaviours you’re already strong, and where you’re weaker, and as a result see what you need to work on to build greater trust.

The trust equation

This equation provides some language and a framework around which you can unpack the concept and feeling of trust. Both the language and framework help you understand how to build trust:

T = C + I + R


Trust – trusting and trustworthiness

The outcome of your behaviours means you’re worth trusting; in other words, you’ve earned the right to be trusted.

Credibility – competent, capable with relevant credentials

Reliability – do what you say you will do consistently

Intimacy – feel safe, respected, emotionally connected – emotional security,

By improving, building and increasing these 3 aspects, you’ll earn the right to be trusted.

Self-orientation – selfishness, self-obsession or not caring about needs of others

Check out this short video in which Charles H. Green, co-author of The Trusted Advisor and author of Trust Based Selling, brilliantly details these 5 components of trust.

The book and other resources

The Speed of Trust

Stephen M.R. Covey

This book delves into the mechanics of trust which, in spite the attention we think we give to it, remains to a great extent underestimated. According to Covey, trust is the keystone for every relationship in our lives, including our relationship with ourselves.

Trust-Based Selling

Charles H. Green

This book shows how trust between buyer and seller is created and explains how both sides benefit from it. Heavy with practical examples and suggestions, the book reveals why trust goes hand-in-hand with success.

These two books on trust provide a range of tools and methods to help every leader and manager build, maintain and even restore trust. If you accept that high trust drives costs down and drives speed up, and is so much more enjoyable as well, then your business will be even more successful when you put Covey’s and Green’s insights to work.

Other resources:

Please watch this short video highlighting Stephen M. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust.

The subtitle of the book is ‘The one thing that changes everything’.  The video explains how trust impacts our lives, our relationships, our work and every effort in which we are engaged. We learn that trust is one of the most powerful forms of motivation and inspiration.

Covey discusses the 5 waves of trust; they serve as a metaphor for how trust operates in our lives! It begins with each of us personally, continues into our relationships and expands into our businesses.

In addition, here is a link to an article about trust as a fundamental element of social capital. Here you will find global comparisons of trust attitudes around the world today. They suggest very large time-persistent, cross-country heterogeneity.

In one extreme, in countries such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, more than 60% of respondents in the World Value Survey think that people can be trusted. And in the other extreme, in countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru, less than 10% think that this is the case. It makes very interesting reading about the impact and importance of trust.

Trust - Our World in Data


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