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A simple five-letter word. Yet so powerful. The feeling of being trusted and trusting has no equal.  

With trust, you can move mountains. Without trust, you can create a great deal of damage. 

A lack of trust creates separation, which can significantly impact team performance in a team environment. On a personal level, a lack of trust creates anxiety and can dramatically impact mental well-being and individual performance.  

We all have two fundamental needs in life and in our work to perform at our best.  

The first is feeling safe, and the second is having dignity – feeling valued. These two needs are vital in creating trust with your team and trust from your leadership team. As a manager, building and maintaining trust is a priority for high performance and achieving results as a team. 

Defining Trust 

For such a crucial bold word, trust is incredibly fragile. The Dutch have a saying that ‘Trust arrives on foot and leaves on horseback’. Trust is not something you buy or can get or expect or deserve. Trust is something you nurture and grow through giving. Trust is developed from a tiny seed, nurtured with patience, and in the right environment and conditions, can bloom.  

Trust is a powerful word embedded in our psyche since childhood and a word that’s key to performance. However, the key to trust is not in what we say but in what we do.  

It’s strange about the writing of trust in words when so much of trust is about actions, not grand gestures but consistent micro-moments over time. 

Here are my top 5 actions to create and maintain trust with the teams that you manage: 

  1. Start with the courage to trust yourself. 

The poet Van Goethe once wrote, ‘As soon as you start to trust yourself, you will know how to live’.  

How you show up, the energy you bring into a space, your presence can inspire and nurture trust, or it can chip away at trust or, worse, irreversibly damage it. Be mindful of how you are showing up with your team. Take time to ground yourself and shed negative energy before meeting with them.  

  1. Lead through empowerment. 

Empowerment says ‘I trust you’ and is crucial in motivating high-performing teams. Being told ‘what to do’ might fix the short-term but, in the longer term, does nothing to build trust. Remember telling someone something robs them of the opportunity to be inspired.  

  1. Model the way.

Trust is created through our actions, not words. It is a privilege to have someone’s trust, and you must show that you believe in yourself and others with consistency and integrity. There is a saying that ‘the way you do anything is the way you do everything, even if that’s not true’. Be mindful that your team will pick up on and process all your actions as they consciously and unconsciously scan for signs of safety and being valued.  

  1. Be crystal clear on expectations.

A foe of trust is conflict and at the heart of conflict and the feeling of not being valued lies in unclear expectations and working with assumptions. Be transparent with the team on what is expected of them, and make sure any assumptions are cleared up before setting off on a mission. Involve them in a shared vision and mission so they know what they are all working towards.  

  1. Be grateful.

Trust is about giving. Be grateful for your team, appreciate their diversity and make sure they know. Remember to enjoy the journey when striving for results.  

What’s the trust like in your team?  

How do you score on a scale of 1 to 5 on these components of fostering Trust? 5 being I am nailing it. Perhaps ask them all to review trust in the team?  

  1. I trust myself.
  2. I empower others to act.
  3. I model the way in everything I do.
  4. I am transparent with my team.
  5. I am grateful for my team.

Finally, we can say that trust is the foundation of successful managerial relationships. Managers can foster collaboration, productivity, and overall success by implementing these five tried-and-true actions for creating and maintaining a culture of trust within their teams. 

This guest blog is written by Simon Hawtrey-Woore, who is an Outdoor Executive Coach and leads his life with a deep curiosity for people and experiences, a passion for open collaboration, a desire to keep things simple, and a love of the outdoors. Simon strongly believes in combining powerful questioning and inspiring natural spaces to open fresh perspectives and help create insights and clarity. Simon has 25 years of marketing experience and 18 years as a coach. Know more about Simon on his website: www.simonhawtreywoore.com or get in touch with on LinkedIn