What’s trust got to do with it?

Ann Stow
3 min readNov 8, 2022


“Trust arrives on foot and leaves on horseback”

Photo by Pietro Mattia on Unsplash

I just read a great piece on trust by @Woodreed[1]. It told me what I (& probably most of you) already know — that trust is fundamental to organisational success. Without trust we lose customers, credibility, competence (expertise) and people (figuratively, or literally).

For me, trust sits hand in hand with consistency, integrity and fairness — a culture which has these things engrained is a great place to work and will perform better because of it. People are central to this, and this is what gets me up in a morning and motivates me to do what I do.

The fabulous David MacLeod from Engage for Success says, “Trust arrives on foot and leaves on horseback”. It takes time to build, and it must be built from within the business. Do not focus on customer service, stakeholder management or the bottom line (business according to Ann) — focus on listening to your people (inside & out), hear what they’re saying, and act on that.

Set a vision for your company and make sure everyone knows that they are a part of the strategy to achieve that vision. Don’t set a course (see previous post on ‘throwing a bird’), listen and hear ideas and objections and work with your people to achieve your success through their ideas and engagement.

I don’t mean peace-meal employee engagement, I mean wholehearted, sleeves rolled up, collaboration and co-creation of your organisation’s future.

Why? “Compared with low trust companies, people at high trust companies report 74% less stress, 50% higher productivity and 29% increased wellbeing”[2], Smarp note that companies with an engaged workforce are 21% more profitable, if you develop a high performing company culture (where people want to do their best for you) you can achieve 4 times larger revenue growth.

Be fair. Favouritism, or unfairness are things that will have trust on it’s horse & heading straight outta town! Think about this carefully, it can be the language you use with a person, or team; allowing time off (or not), rewarding one and not another — this can be a fine line. Self-awareness, reflection and listening (yes, again!) can all hep you notice your own behaviours and attitudes which might bring about an uneven approach.

Back to setting that vision, be clear and consistent in your communications, your strategic narrative must be compelling and inclusive. If you want to establish your culture so that people think it’s a great place to work, you & your leadership team need to live that culture and the associated values with integrity, be consistent in language and behaviours. Make sure that this is managed well, every day. Consistency and integrity build trust.

“Integrity is where behaviours and trust align”1.

Communication goes both ways — hear people’s stories and respond to their ideas and comments. People that are involved in co-creating their organisation’s future are invested in that future, they’re more likely to stay with you, take fewer sick days and be more likely to give discretionary effort — what’s not to love. Let your people help you improve how they work, change processes to improve performance and prevent workarounds (by the way, this is great for security — cyber or physical).

That means you have a motivated workforce, who engage positively with your customers and stakeholders (& their mates), they’ll spot issues long before they would filter through formal communications channels meaning you can nip things in the bud, rather than firefighting. This process evolves and trust in your organisation builds both internally & externally. Your people are your eyes and ears on the ground — cutting them off would be foolish. Meaning you can concentrate on the day job and getting that vision in place.

“Ultimately, for leaders, you have to have the vision to know it’s better to succeed with trust, not control. It’s a major investment that hugely affects your resilience.”[3]

[1] https://f.hubspotusercontent30.net/hubfs/5061332/The-Trust-Issue_2020_Final.pdf

[2] The Trust Issue, 2020, Woodreed. Quoting The Trust Triangle, Matthew Davies.

[3] Scania’s MD, Paul Smith



Ann Stow

Passionate about making work more human - one conversation at a time.