Ask Skip: How can a leader rebuild trust?

All Ask Skip” Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here!

Trust is a many faceted issue.

So the first step is to identify cause. What is the cause of the lost trust?

Once we know the cause we can then identify ways to address it and begin to rebuilt the trust.

Unfortunately because the causes and contexts are so varied and although not unique to all situations the circumstances around the issue within each organization are unique. Without knowing the details it’s hard to offer solutions.

Here are 3 generic suggestions I would offer any leader looking for trust building ideas:

  1. Be a humble leader – The leader should at the very least acknowledge whatever role they played in the loss of trust to the extent that it is within their control to do so. Depending on the situation and the severity and the role the leader played an apology may or may not be appropriate.  He or she should be honest, forthright and lead with humility and compassion.
  2. Set a new standard and stick to it – A lot of times trust is lost in an organization and on a team because there are multiple agendas, poor or unclear expectations, mis-managed expectations, inequity in holding team members to agreed upon performance standards, etc. Moving forward give everyone the benefit of the doubt including yourself, and commit to a new standard. Be absolutely consistent in managing accountability to the new standard moving forward.
  3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – The leaders should make sure they have an open door policy, and an open mind policy allowing team members to come to them with valid questions and concerns. Commit to addressing those concerns in a timely manner (addressing them does not mean that they have to be fixed at the level the team member requested, it just means that an effort should be made to hear the issue, evaluate its merits, make appropriate adjustments, then communicate the decision and reasons behind it to the person who made the request).

Hope this helps?

One of the things that I’ve found to break down trust in an organization is communication. I’ve even identified 7 of the most damaging types of communication that leaders and employees regularly engage in that everyone kills trust in a work environment. I call them “The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication” and you can read about them by downloading my free report at this link.

To work specifically on this and other leadership strategies to improve overall performance on your team you are going to want to participate in the “Confident Leaders Training Camp” either the live TeleClass version or the home study version that will soon be available, learn more here.

If anyone would like further clarification on this please feel free to leave a comment below and start a discussion for all to learn from.

’til next time, make it a great day!


If you have an issue you are dealing with in leading your team and/or organization that you would like answered in my “Ask Skip” column, click here to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here and you might just see your question answered here in the coming weeks. I also promise to reply directly so that you get the help you need when you need it.