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How to Build Trust in Any Organization or Team

How to Build Trust in Any Organization or Team
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It’s late at night and you’re ready to head home after a night with friends. You call a cab and your ride shows up within a few minutes. The driver pulls out into the street and within a hundred yards runs into a telephone pole.

Fast forward a couple of days and you are in the same situation but when the car pulls up, you realize it’s the same driver! Would you get back into the car with that driver? Most of us would not.

Now change the situation and imagine the same scenario but that the driver is a close friend or family member. Would you get back into that car? Most of us would.

Why is this? Two identical situations – the only difference being the driver. Why does trust disappear with the first driver but not a close family member or friend?

Some people think that trust is a feeling. We often hear or find ourselves saying, “I feel like I trust him or her.” However, a feeling is our articulation of a human emotion and trust is more than an emotion; trust is a belief.

Due to a neat thing called free will, none of us can make another person believe something. All we can do is create an environment that allows another to decide on their own. So it goes with trust. Building trust is actually about creating an environment that allows someone to make a decision to trust you.

One way we create an environment where people can trust us is through our behaviors – you cannot “behave” trust. However, there are behaviors that can lead to the belief of trust. They reside in four key components: compassion, character, consistency, and competence.


  • Listen
  • Walk a mile in someone’s shoes
  • Recognize and Celebrate


  • Be honest
  • Do the “hard right” vice the “easy wrong”
  • Be accountable for your actions and seek accountability for mistakes


  • Display stable performance over time
  • Show up in a way that is predictable
  • Make equitable decisions


  • Do your job efficiently
  • Pursue mastery
  • Display initiative

High performance in organizations, teams, and relationships occurs when you have all four components of trust. However, each of the four shows up in different ways. Competence and Consistency are visible, measurable, and easy to assess quickly. Often time trust in work relationships is based on people’s ability to do their job (competence) and do their job consistently over time. The same thing is true for our cab driver and also the reason we don’t get back in the cab after the first failure. Chances are, with our friend or family member we have some sense for their Compassion and Character, two elements of trust that may be less visible at the outset, also the reason we take a second ride.

Are you building trust with people in all four areas? Or are you focused only on what you can see?

Trust is a belief. Give your people a reason to believe in you.

Meet the Author

Matt Whiat


As a co-founding partner of Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute, Matt Whiat draws on his previous 20 years of leadership experience as a former US Air Force Officer, helping organizations create cultures where people feel valued.

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