Regardless of the size of your business, providing effective leadership is key.

Your leaders – be that yourself or others – are responsible not only for driving your organisation forward, but also for inspiring your people, making them believe in your vision, and getting them all to play their part in making it happen.

Trust lies at the cornerstone of every relationship between a team and their leader.

To be effective, leaders need their team’s trust.

But, the million-dollar question is how do they gain that trust in the first place? And how do they get it back if they have lost it?

It all comes down to behaviour.

If leaders can create open, honest and positive relationships with their teams and individuals, then trust will build, over time.

But what are the types of leadership behaviours that build trust?

And how can you help your leaders to learn and display them?

Here’s a rundown of the trust-building behaviours that all good leaders display …

Recognise that Trust is Earned

The number one key to building trust is recognising that it is not given automatically. It takes time and effort to build trust, which is earned through hard work, by delivering what you say, by keeping your promises and aligning your behaviour with your values.

But, it’s worth the effort. A team that trusts you will feel more invested in your organisation, and its vision, goals and objectives and will want to help you achieve them.

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Create Positive Relationships

This one may seem obvious, but at times is not so easy to achieve.

Emotional intelligence, and the ability to empathise with people, is the key to creating positive relationships.

Different people respond to different things, so the skill here is to be able to spot the subtle cues that they are giving and responding accordingly.

In general, though, helping employees cooperate, resolving conflicts, giving honest feedback – provided it’s constructive – and seeking people’s opinions all go some way towards developing relationships built on trust.

Demonstrate Expertise and Judgement

If people believe the person leading them has the skills, knowledge and experience to make sound decisions about the team’s work and the task at hand, they are more likely to trust them.

Acknowledging limitations and seeking help from others with more expertise is also important and communicates that you are open to ideas and don’t think you can do everything yourself.

Be Consistent

A good leader does what they say they are going to do and follows through on the commitments they have made. This not only communicates trust, but also helps to engender positive behaviour throughout the organisation as teams usually follow the behaviours of their leaders or role models.

If you are seen to go back on a commitment or a promise, it communicates to your team that it’s OK for them to do so as well.

[Fiona] delivered an innovative, challenging and relevant programme which has inspired a number of the managers to greater ambition and performance. Several are now regional directors.

Be Honest, Open and Supportive

Often, the truth and what people want to hear are two separate things, so it always pays to be honest, open and transparent.

Even when telling the truth is difficult, it’s better than just telling people what you think they want to hear.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be considerate of their effort and sensitive to their feelings, even when mistakes have been made.

But being honest, open and transparent always is the best policy and goes a long way in building trust as a leader.


Your people won’t feel valued if they don’t think they are being listened to, so give them every opportunity to make their voice and opinion heard.

Engage in open dialogue with your people and give them the opportunity to ask questions, get answers, and voice their concerns.

If they feel they can influence a decision or outcome, it will help them to take ownership of it, so encourage feedback and don’t be afraid to change course if you hear a good idea.

Live Your Values

If you want your people to behave in a certain way, then you must embody that behaviour yourself.

It’s actions, not words, that reinforce positive behaviour, so if you want them to behave that way, don’t just tell them, show them… and reward them.

By giving your people credit for their good performance, you’ll not only build trust, but also create a more appreciative and collaborative culture.

Be Accountable

Holding yourself accountable and acknowledging your own mistakes as well as successes will help you to build trust among your people and encourage them to follow your lead.

Accountability isn’t about being critical of either yourself or others.

It simply means having an open dialogue with your people; honestly evaluating projects to identify positives, negatives and things to improve; and creating processes that celebrate success, ensure that mistakes can be learned from, and foster a culture of continuous improvement.

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Treat Everyone Equally

The minute you start picking favourites within your team or treating certain individuals differently is the moment you start undermining trust.

It can cause resentment and division when some team members see others getting preferential treatment.

By treating everyone equally, everyone knows where they stand and will trust you more as a result.

Put the Team Before Yourself

One of the quickest ways to erode the trust you have from your team is to start taking credit for someone else’s work, or not giving credit where it’s due.

If you start basking in the glory of your team’s success, you’ll come across as self-serving and your team will gradually start to resent you for it and stop putting in their best effort for you.

If, however, you recognise and highlight your team’s success, it will reflect well on you, so put their success before your own.

Be Challenging

People like to be challenged and tested, so assigning your team a difficult but achievable task will signal to them your confidence and trust in their ability to get things done.

It’s a great way of not only getting people to raise their game, but also helping them to develop their skills and grow.

However, there’s something else at play here.

From a neuroscience perspective, the stress and relief associated with successfully completing a challenging task floods the brain with oxytocin, a hormone associated with happiness, bonding and trust.

Direct, Don’t Micromanage

One of the keys to building trust over the long-term is to give people the freedom and responsibility to do their job how they see best.

So, rather than assigning them a task and then telling them exactly how to do it, explain what the objective is and what is expected of them, and allow them the flexibility to decide how they can best manage the task and perform their role.


When it comes to relationships, trust is at the core of everything and as we’ve highlighted above, it is actions and behaviours, not words, that build or destroy it.

At FP Training, we believe that improving the behaviours of leaders within an organisation will have a positive impact on its team morale, productivity and overall effectiveness.

If you want to discuss any of the issues covered in this blog or discover how we can help you to embed effective leadership skills across your organisation, get in touch today.

For information on how FP Training Ltd can support the development of your leaders, contact us on: 01332 527144 or