It’s a Matter of Trust

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

While Conducting 360 interviews for a CEO client last year, I was speaking to his direct reports, peers and board members.

After offering his thoughts, one of the board members asked me, “do my comments sync with what you’re hearing from others?” When I answered that I could not share that information, he then said, “let me ask the question another way…”. I still declined to answer. He tried yet one more time, so I had to tell him that it didn’t matter how he asked, I was still not going to breach the confidentiality of the client’s information and the conversations with other 360 participants.

Why was this so important to me? Because confidentiality is vital to an executive coaching relationship and is a key building block of trust, an essential foundation for all productive relationships, both personal and business.

You would not consider an individual a friend if you did not feel you could trust him/her. You not only entrust them with private information, but you may also trust them with people and items of value to you.

In the workplace, trust is vital in many areas:

  • Employees trust that you will keep their personal information confidential, including discussions or actions related to that information.
  • Management and shareholders trust that financial data, proprietary information, trade secrets, processes and plans will not be shared with others unless agreed and/or required.
  • Management trusts that customers will pay for products and services delivered – and trust that they have recourse if that doesn’t happen in a timely manner.
  • Most importantly, it’s critical that your team trust you as a leader. You may demonstrate trustworthiness in many ways: respecting confidentiality, consistently evidencing ethical behavior, being accountable for your commitments and allowing the open and blameless exchange of ideas. If they trust you, they can follow you.

Trust creates the base for risk-taking; embracing your vision, being willing to implement change and committing to team goals.

Douglas Conant, former Campbell’s Soup CEO credited with turning the company around during his tenure, was quoted as saying, “Before you have the moral authority to lead your team, you have to inspire trust. Trust is the one thing that changes everything. In a high-trust culture, it’s so much easier to get things done.”

Creating a high-trust culture can lead to a high-performance culturetrust me! We’ve been fortunate to witness and facilitate this evolution many times and would very much like to hear about your own experiences with trust and the lack thereof. Please email me with your thoughts!

All the best,


Fundamental #16 | Respect Confidentiality . Honor the trust others give us. Be rigorous about keeping all information in confidence and be vigilant to safeguard it.

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