The Many Levels of Trust

I recently met with a client who is quite concerned about one of his leadership team members who he believes doesn’t trust anyone. The evidence being this employee often says, “We don’t have to trust each other, I just want everyone to do their job.” Yet when this individual is talking about trust, what level of trust is she talking about?

There are many levels of trust – here’s just a few of them:
Work Ethic Trust – I trust you will carry your own weight and work hard
Competency Trust – I trust you have the capacity and ability to do your job well
Humility Trust – I trust you know your limits and will ask for help and guidance when you need it
Ethics Trust – I trust you’ll do the right thing
Self Accountability Trust - I trust that if you make a mistake you’ll own it and won’t throw someone else under the bus
Intentions Trust – I trust your intentions and believe you are trying to do what’s best for the organization (not just what’s best for you or your department)
Integrity Trust – I know I can count on you to do what you say you will do - in this, if you take on a task, I know you will follow through and complete it
Honesty and Transparency Trust – I trust you’re telling me the whole truth and not hiding important details
Thoughtfulness Trust – I trust you to consider the impact of your decisions and actions on others prior to taking action
Alliance Trust- I trust you to have my back
Vegas Trust – "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" – incident-based confidentiality
Vulnerability Trust – I trust you with my inner-most secrets

So chances are this employee was telling my client, “We don’t have to trust each other with our inner-most secrets, I just want to trust that I can count on everyone to follow through on their responsibilities.”

In order to have a healthy company culture, you don’t need to trust each other with your inner-most secrets. However you do need to trust one another’s intentions and feel safe to say what needs to be said.

Something to think about: When you look at your team, and you look at this list, in what areas do you trust them? And in what areas don't you? Do you have reason not to - specific examples? Note that barring the last three on the list, if there's one area where you don't trust any of your team, this could be due to some fabulous deep seeded childhood wound (gotta love those) or an area where you don't trust yourself. I know, damn mirrors.

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