How to Build a Culture of Trust

How to Build a Culture of Trust

Trust – it’s not just a buzzword. In fact, it’s the linchpin of performance. A study of trust and performance in business teams has shown that when trust thrives, so does performance. This is especially true for decision-making teams, project teams and production teams, where these teams rely heavily on information exchange and collaboration to make strategic decisions.


We know that trust is the foundation that underpins the other four functions of high-performing teams. It is the keystone competency that enables teams to constructively address the next level dysfunctions (i.e. conflict, commitment, accountability, and results). Let’s take a closer look at how this manifests itself in dysfunctional and high-performing teams.

Demystifying Trust – The Trust Equation


‘Trust is not built in big, sweeping moments. It’s built in tiny moments every day.’ Brené Brown, Dare to Lead.


Trust doesn’t have to be hard. Understanding it through the lens of David Maister’s formula can help you influence trust authentically.

In essence, the formula suggests that trust is a function of reliability, credibility and intimacy, all divided by self-orientation. This means that to increase trust, you should enhance your credibility, be reliable, build a deeper connection with others, and minimise self-centeredness in your interactions.


If you’re unsure what to prioritise, we’ve got you covered. Download our short trust diagnostic based on Maister’s formula to gauge which factors in the Trust Equation are likely to impact your ability to win your team’s trust. Once identified, check out our tips below.



  • Do what you say you’ll do: Follow through on promises and commitments consistently.
  • Be consistent: Maintain consistency in all of your behaviours and decisions to establish a track record of reliability.
  • Be accountable: Take responsibility for your actions and outcomes, even in challenging situations, to build trust in your reliability.
  • Establish clear goals, roles, and responsibilities: Ensure that everyone on the team knows their role and what is expected of them. Unclear goals and roles can account for up to 96% of conflict within teams (GRPI, Tichy, N.).



  • Demonstrate expertise: Showcase your knowledge and skills through quality work and informed contributions. If it’s not your area of expertise – be upfront and don’t bluff.
  • Seek feedback: Solicit feedback and implement it to enhance credibility.
  • Be transparent: Communicate openly and honestly, especially when delivering difficult news or feedback.
  • Lead by example: You set the bar – model the behaviour you want to see in your team. Show trust and respect to others.



  • Build relationships: Meet your team often both as a group and 1:1. Invest time and effort in building meaningful connections with team members through active listening, empathy, and support. Show a genuine interest in your team by asking about their interests, goals, and challenges.
  • Be vulnerable: Show vulnerability by admitting mistakes, asking for help when needed, and expressing emotions authentically to deepen intimacy and trust within the team.
  • Encourage diversity and inclusivity: Foster a culture of respect and acceptance for all team members, regardless of their background or differences.
  • Psychological safety: Create a safe and supportive environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas openly.


Minimising Self-Centeredness:

  • Focus on the team: Shift the focus from individual achievements to collective success, emphasising teamwork and collaboration.
  • Practise active listening: Listen attentively to others’ perspectives and ideas without interrupting or dominating the conversation.
  • Seek input from others: Involve team members in decision-making processes and value their input and contributions.
  • Share credit: Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and contributions of others, avoiding the temptation to take sole credit for successes.


Ready to achieve remarkable results with your team? Contact us today to discover how our expert guidance can empower your organisation. With our Elevate Programme, specifically designed for middle managers, unlock the full potential of your team and lead with confidence and innovation.



  • Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead. Vermilion.
  • Lencioni, P. M. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team. Jossey-Bass.
  • Maister, D. H. (2001). The Trusted Advisor (Book). Long Range Planning, 34(6).
  • Morrissette, A. M., & Kisamore, J. L. (2020). Trust and performance in business teams: a meta-analysis. Team Performance Management, 26(5–6).
  • Tichy, N. M. (2002). The Leadership Development Program. Presented at the Building the Leadership Engine, Ann Arbor
OMT Global

Established in 1989, OMT works with large organisations to develop the leadership skills of their people managers, from first-time leaders right through to senior-level executives. We provide a range of consultancy, training and development services for organisations that want to further develop and retain their talent. OMT excels in helping organisations move from ad hoc or one-off efforts to a new way of behaving and working.

Talk to us about how we can help you and your organisation