2016-03-07

The top 7 ways a leader can destroy trust

Gregg Gregory

Trust is the underlying challenge for all teams at every level of an organization. Perhaps we just want to cover our backside; perhaps we are skeptical of others; or perhaps it is simply in our nature; regardless, fostering trust is a key element to creating a winning team culture.


Most people are trustworthy and we’re not talking about trusting a teammate to do their job. The trust that can make or break a team is vulnerability trust.  Vulnerability trust means trusting your team with personal information about you, and believing that they will not use this against you or others in the future.

Leaders inherently face the challenge of building and fostering trust among employees. Here are some powerful mishaps that can destroy trust within your team.

  1. Not communicating with others – When a leader closes the proverbial door and shuts down communication, trust erodes almost immediately. The more the leader opens up on personal issues, the quicker the team trusts.
  2. Twisting the truth – When leaders twist, or try to shape the truth to their preference rather than remaining transparent, real trust erodes rapidly.
  3. Not listening to team feedback – Many times employees have amazing ideas and can, in fact, help the team grow. When the leader dismisses ideas from team members or, even worse, takes their idea for their own, trust collapses. In most cases, listening and then disregarding ideas is worse than never listening in the first place.
  4. Holding back information – When the leader withholds information from a single person or the team, trust fades and respect goes right along with trust – thus eliminating any influence the leader may have previously developed.
  5. Lack of integrity – Integrity is defined as doing what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it, even when no one else is watching. When a leader breaches integrity, trust simply vanishes.
  6. Breaking confidentially – There are three things, listed below, that a person can do when someone confides in them. With the first two, confidentially is created and trust is fostered. In the third, trust is destroyed.
  • Let it go in one ear and out the other.
  • Let it go in one ear and digest the information and say nothing.
  • Let it go in one ear and out the mouth to others.
  1. Being a micromanager – Remember that the majority of employees truly want to do a good job. When you micromanage them, they typically infer that they are not trusted. In turn, they fail to trust the leader.

Trust is only as good as the people on the team and the example and expectations of that team’s leader. Fostering trust is an ongoing effort because, even after trust is fostered among everyone, it can easily be destroyed.


Reprinted with the permission of Gregg Gregory, CSP, of Team Rocks. Gregg works with organizations helping them create a winning culture through teamwork. His interactive workshops and consulting helps clients achieve greater productivity, team morale, and a positive organizational culture. With more than 25 years of real world experience, Gregg’s captivating, high-energy keynotes, breakouts and training sessions help design collaborative teams that produce tangible, bottom-line results. To learn more, contact Gregg in the U.S. via his website, www.TeamsRock.com

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