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A colleague of mine commented on the article The Neuroscience of Trust from HBR the other day.  I was intrigued because in my last post I made the point about building rapport and trust with the Sales team.  Building trust seems somewhat subjective at face value … you either trust somebody or you don’t.  Sometimes it is based on actions, sometimes it is based on feeling.

And yet the article implies something different. To have a scientific study offering empirical data on the subject compelled me to have a look …

In its 2016 global CEO survey, PwC reported that 55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth. But most have done little to increase trust, mainly because they aren’t sure where to start. In this article I provide a science-based framework that will help them.

Once you get through the science, which was fascinating to read, the conclusions support 8 ways leaders can effectively create and manage a culture of trust.  Interestingly, they seem to align with quite nicely with something Britta Myer (CMO at WageWorks) posted on LinkedIn the other day …


  1. Recognize excellence – recognition has the largest effect on trust when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public. [PH thoughts] – very possibly takes us out of our comfort zones, but necessary nonetheless.
  2. Induce “challenge stress – When a manager assigns a team a difficult but achievable job … it can intensify people’s focus and strengthen social connections. [PH thoughts] – Consistent with something I’ve posted on relative to stress Calgon, Take Me Away.
  3. Give people discretion in how they do their work – Once employees have been trained, allow them, whenever possible, to manage people and execute projects in their own way.  [PH thoughts] – Empower, don’t micromanage.
  4. Enable job crafting – When companies trust employees to choose which projects they’ll work on, people focus their energies on what they care about most. [PH thoughts] – this is a new concept to me, and one I don’t fully understand.  I get the premise, but who would knowingly choose the mundane but necessary projects (like compliance code changes, or perpetual bug fixes, etc)?
  5. Share information broadly – uncertainty about the company’s direction leads to chronic stress, which inhibits the release of oxytocin and undermines teamwork. [PH thoughts] – see Transparency? Or Integrity? Fundamentally I agree, but there are times where leaders cannot be fully transparent.
  6. Intentionally build relationships  – we often get the message that we should focus on completing tasks, not on making friends. [PH thoughts] – every relationship requires being intentional.
  7. Facilitate whole-person growth – High-trust workplaces help people develop personally as well as professionally, and adopt a growth mindset when developing talent. Some even find that when managers set clear goals, give employees the autonomy to reach them, and provide consistent feedback, the backward-looking annual performance review is no longer necessary. [PH thoughts] – I’ve posted before I am a big fan of goals.
  8. Show vulnerability – Leaders in high-trust workplaces ask for help from colleagues instead of just telling them to do things. [PH thoughts] – or admit they were wrong, or don’t steal the credit, or skirt responsibility … much more to this point!

And I love the way the article concludes … because I’ve used this quote before and am a firm believer in servant leadership!

Former Herman Miller CEO Max De Pree once said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant.”