Quick Coaching Tools – Trust

Trust is one of my Quick Coaching Tools. They are exactly what the title suggests. Short snippets of coaching tips, tools and ideas for you to use on a just-in-time basis. Use them as an update and to refresh your coaching practice and professionalism. You could call it coaching in a hurry!

What & Why

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is quoted as saying: “He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted”.

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric is quoted as saying in his book ‘Winning’: “Trust happens when leaders are transparent, candid and keep their word. It’s that simple”.

Trust starts with you. Taking the spirit of the first quote from Lao Tzu; if you don’t trust others you are less likely to be trusted yourself. And the opposite of trust is suspicion. To trust is: ‘acceptance of the truth of a statement without evidence or investigation’ and to be trusted is: ‘the state of being responsible for someone or something’. This links to the second quote; you have a responsibility as a leader – call it ‘visible integrity’ – to live up to the principles embodied in Jack Welch’s simple summary of trust. This cannot be faked. Because of this trust starts to happen when you have achieved a congruence between your personal beliefs, values and leadership behaviours. So there needs to be a red thread running through these principles.


As for ‘how’, here are some practical principles you can follow to engender trust in a coaching relationship:

  • High-trust relationships develop based on observable behaviours like reliability, openness, the ability to empathize, credibility, acting consistently and following through on commitments.
  • The most effective way to build and sustain an environment of trust – and therefore, a feedback-rich and high-performance environment – is through your own behaviour.
  • You can strengthen existing relationships by exhibiting trustworthy behaviours yourself and cultivating those behaviours in others.
  • Building trust is really a matter of managing your own behaviour. So, in that respect, it is controllable and a skill that can be learned.
  • And mutual trust – between you and your direct reports – is based on your confidence in the ability of others to perform well, matched by their confidence in your commitment to the relationship and achieving business priorities.

Further Reading: ‘Techniques – Building Trust and Rapport’ in the Coaches Toolkit (for Blog subscribers)

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