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Executive Leadership — How To Build Trust And Why It’s So Important

Written by: Kris de Jong, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


As a leader, it’s imperative that your team trusts you. Trust in a work context means your people expect to be supported, be treated respectfully, and have confidence in you to do the right thing. As a result, employees feel free to talk openly about the issues that matter to them without fear of negative consequences.

Why is trust so important?

Why is trust such an important factor for workplace productivity and effectiveness? According to a study by Timothy Judge et al., The relationship between pay and job satisfaction: A meta-analysis of the literature published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior by Elsevier, “trust” is one of the top three things employees value at work, alongside “appreciation” and “inclusion”. These concepts are connected, so each supports the other.

rs are less likely to quit, have higher job satisfaction, are more likely to believe information from their leader, and are more inclined to commit to organizational decisions.

A high level of trust in the leader results in more cohesion, better staff retention, and increased engagement.

How can you increase your trust as a leader?

So how do you build trust in a practical way? It starts with making a commitment to yourself to take action every day that demonstrates trust to your team.

Executive leadership expert John Ullmen suggests there are three fundamental values that if displayed consistently, increase trust: Reliability, Credibility, and Connection. Here’s how you can apply these values within your organization:


When you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do it. When people see that you follow through with your promises, it gives them confidence - not only in your ability to get things done but in the company’s capability to change and grow effectively.

Example: As a result of an employee engagement survey, one of the key issues raised was a perceived lack of communication from the leadership team, so you say you’ll make sure this is addressed immediately. Clearly communicate how you’ll do this and take action. You could, for instance, send brief, weekly emails to everyone outlining key decisions and milestones and ask for feedback or questions.


Your team looks to you to set the example. Consciously or unconsciously, they’re taking cues from your behavior and actions and seeing them as reflecting the culture of the whole organization. Be very conscious of how you’re coming across when interacting with everyone around you.

Mean what you say and say what you mean. A casual remark about someone’s poor performance, an off-color joke, a rolling of the eyes when someone makes a suggestion – these seemingly small things can undermine your message around the desired culture, and have a big negative impact on your credibility.

Example: You’re in a meeting with one of your team leaders, and they tell you about how an individual is underperforming. You then nod in agreement and say how awful that person is, and he’s probably going to be fired soon, thus talking about someone behind their back and engaging in gossip. Don’t do this, especially if you’re telling everyone about nurturing a caring, respectful culture. Avoid “do as I say, not as I do.”. Instead, talk with your team leader about how to deal with the performance issues of the individual in a constructive way.


The days of the autocratic leader are dead. Servant leadership involves looking after your people first, helping them to develop to be the best they can be in their role, and involving them in decision-making. When this happens, employees feel lifted up and supported, which in turn increases motivation and engagement.

Example: Your workers are people, and therefore have a lot more going on than you see on the surface. Getting to know them and what excites and engages them helps to uncover pathways for career progression and personal growth. Look for specific ways to encourage this. It might involve providing skills training, relevant courses, or the opportunity to lead a project. Treat everyone with respect.

Make building trust a habit

Doing these small things every day will ensure you consistently build trust and enable a safe, open working environment where everyone feels valued and free to contribute to the greater good.

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Kris de Jong, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kris de Jong is an experienced and certified Executive Life Coach living in Auckland, New Zealand. He studied at the University of Waikato, completing a BSc in Biology and Psychology, and was later certified in Cognitive Behavioural Coaching and Professional Life Coaching. He's also a Certified Practitioner of the Global Leadership Assessment 360 (GLA360). Recently he's become a co-founding ambassador for, a global virtual knowledge exchange platform.

Kris has managed large and diverse teams over the years while building his coaching and mentoring skills. His experience in HR, recruitment, performance, and people management allows him to optimize employee coaching for organizations looking to improve workplace wellbeing.

He's written over 100 articles, published in national news outlets, and featured on national radio.

After achieving financial freedom at 40, Kris started Eclipse Life Coaching and is passionate about coaching and helping people to get what they want in life.



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