I met up with a manager I hadn’t seen for about two years the other day. It was a delight to see Robert, and we immediately fell back into our old way of talking with each other. Within a short period of time, he had told me about his life over the last few years, both personal and professional. I realised that he had given me his trust, just as he had when I was his coach, and it got me to thinking about trust.

As a leader, two-way trust is essential, if we are to perform well. We need to trust those we work with, both peers and team members, and they need to trust us. With this trust, we can achieve miracles, because we are not wasting our energy on watching our backs, and can focus that energy on doing the job well instead.

The only way we can gain trust from others is through our behaviour and attitude towards them. If we are trusting of them, they tend to return the trust. If we keep confidentiality, they are more likely to tell us the truth. If we are honest with them, they will be honest back.

We all know this – our close personal friendships work on this basis, and our work relationships are not that different. In the same way as we can rely on our friends to support us and be there when we need them, we need to be able to do the same with our work colleagues, because they will help us to perform at our best.

And of course, this is two-way. If we want the best from our teams, we need to be there for them, and support them when they need it. This approach is often seen as part of the coaching style of management, but to me, it is more than just a style. It is a way of life, a way of being with people, that makes work more enjoyable, more satisfying, more rewarding, for both parties.

We sometimes think that caring for our colleagues is ‘too soft’ and will lead to them exploiting our softness. Yet very few people fail to respond to being trusted and supported as a person. And most people work far more effectively for someone they feel they can trust.

If we want to be effective as a coach, either professionally or as a way of supporting our friends, then building trust into the relationship is essential.  (For more on being an excellent coach, visit

Building more trust into relationships.

  • If you are not very trusting, experiment with giving trust a bit more, and count how many times it pays off, rather than back-firing.
  • And if you are a trusting manager, keep going, build on it!
  • If someone comes to you with something personal, make sure that you treat their subject with respect, and keep it to yourself.
  • And if you make a promise, keep it.


About Di Kamp

Di Kamp is chief executive of Meta and has been involved in the field of developing people and organisations for 35 years. She has worked with a variety of organisations, and specialises in enabling senior managers to guide their organisations from good enough to excellence, and enabling management teams to lead their people in a way that will enhance their performance. Di has written several books, including manuals for trainers, one on staff appraisals, one on workplace counselling, one on improving your excellence as a trainer, one on people skills, and one on being a 21st century manager. She is currently preparing a further book on the secret of sustainable successful organisations.

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