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Chapter 21, “Ready, Aim, Excel”

     I have this mental image of leaders roaming the hallways leaving trails of flower petals on the floor as they try to figure out if today, the people they are leading trust them or trust them not.

      There are multiple reasons why organizations become fractured, why leaders struggle and why teams fail to come together, but at the core is this thing we call “trustworthy behaviors”.

      Leaders are constantly challenged to build and maintain a trusting environment. But trust isn’t something that you just ask for; it’s something you earn. I often hear comments in organizations such as, “we just need to start trusting each other.” Well, it’s just not that simple. We don’t order trust like Friday night pizza. We also don’t enact a group policy of trust like we do when we want everyone to be allowed to wear jeans on Friday. In fact, building trust only happens when 1) we’re open to extending trust to someone (that requires that we’re vulnerable – I know how much people don’t like that word) and 2) when we see trustworthy behaviors displayed by those around us. In other words, it starts within.

      Buckle your seat belt here…. using your index finger, point at yourself and say, “Trust starts with me”.

      There are no shortcuts. There is no substitute for rolling up your sleeves, being cognizant of your own actions and behaviors and showing up every day in a consistent, intentional and trustworthy manner.

     To build an entire organization where trust is foundational, goes one step further. Now you have to have the conversation. The one where you and the people around you create team norms and define for yourselves what trust looks like and what is expected from each other. And then… are you ready for this? Hold each other accountable. Yes, I said it. But here is what is fascinating. In a trustworthy environment, people will naturally hold each other accountable. They’ll forgive errors, work with others to find resolution to conflict and out perform their competitors. Ready?

For more information, send me a message, and let’s talk.

Dr. Teresa Ray, PCC


Winterton, V., Ray, T., Goldsmith, M., Greenberg, C., Nadler, R., & Blanchard, K. (2011). Trust Me, Trust Me Not. In Ready. Aim. Excel. Charlotte, NC: Expert Insights Publishing