How leaders can create a culture of trust

Posted on:

4th July 2023

Creating a culture of trust is no easy feat, but it's essential for building strong, high-performing and most importantly, happy teams. As a leader, it's your responsibility to set the tone and create an environment where your people feel comfortable voicing their thoughts, sharing their ideas, and being their authentic selves.

Amy, our Head of Performance Development, shed light on some invaluable best practices that can help foster a culture of trust within your organisation. From establishing open lines of communication to encouraging collaborative decision-making, Amy's insights provide practical guidance for leaders seeking to create a supportive and inclusive workplace. Discover her expert advice and learn how to cultivate an environment that empowers individuals to thrive. Read on to uncover the secrets to building trust and unlocking the full potential of your teams.

Why creating a culture of trust is so important 

Trust creates a magnet for attracting top-notch talent and keeping them around for the long haul. People want to be part of a company they can rely on and feel comfortable in, and trust cultivates a profound sense of belonging. When you've got that trust factor going on, people feel valued and respected, which unleashes their creativity and helps them thrive in their roles.

Not only is trust great for talent attraction and talent retention, but it’s also a game-changer for you as a leader as it provides you with invaluable knowledge and insight into the emotions and well-being of your people. When trust is fostered, employees feel safe and comfortable expressing their thoughts, concerns, and challenges. This open communication channel allows you to tap into the collective wisdom of your team, gaining a deeper understanding of their needs, aspirations, and potential roadblocks. You’ll be able to detect early signs of stress, dissatisfaction, or disengagement, empowering you to address these issues proactively. By having this pulse on your people's emotions, you can make informed decisions, implement supportive measures, and offer guidance that aligns with the team's well-being. Ultimately, a culture of trust gives leaders a powerful lens to comprehend and respond to the feelings of their people, fostering a harmonious and productive work environment.

“Trust equals knowledge. If we have an environment and a culture of trust, it gives us insight into how our people are actually feeling and what our people are actually thinking. It supports our people to solve their problems. Ultimately, knowledge helps us to remove barriers that are stopping people from performing or from stopping people feeling a certain way. Most of the time when we're solving problems as leaders, we're really trying to find out the why and with a lack of information, we'll never be able to solve that problem.” - Amy Williams, Head of Performance Development.

How to create a culture of trust 

“I think that the three most easily accessible ways to create a culture of trust are to demonstrate the behaviours that you want to see from your people, enable collaboration, and similarly to the first point, reward the behaviours you want to see. Sometimes leadership can be extremely pressured and it can be tough to hear people's real thoughts and feelings, especially when you already feel like you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders. But I think it's about recognising that when someone comes to you and they are sharing feedback about what's bothering them, what they're seeing, what they're hearing, that might feel like a stressor for you, but actually, this is amazing behaviour and we should be rewarding it.” - Amy.


Creating a culture of trust requires consistent effort, accompanied by intrinsic behaviours and beliefs that support this foundation. First and foremost, leaders must lead by example, demonstrating honesty, integrity, and transparency in their actions and communications. Building open lines of communication is vital, encouraging active listening and providing regular feedback to foster trust and understanding.


Empowering your people to have a voice and contribute toward strategic decision-making allows individuals to feel valued and trusted. You can set the stage by promoting an environment where collaboration is not only encouraged but also celebrated. By breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration, diverse perspectives and expertise will fuel innovation and problem-solving. Creating opportunities for open dialogue and active participation means you can empower your people to share ideas, engage in constructive discussions, and co-create solutions. 


In the journey of creating a culture of trust, one powerful tool at your disposal is the simple act of showing appreciation. When your people open up and share their honest feedback, it's an act of vulnerability that deserves recognition. Take a moment to express your gratitude for their courage and honesty. A heartfelt thank you can work wonders, making you more approachable and relatable as a leader. By acknowledging their contributions, you validate their voices and create an environment where trust can flourish. Your small act of appreciation can have a lasting impact, strengthening the bond between you and your people.​

Creating a culture of trust in a flexible environment

As a leader, it’s vital to create a culture of trust within a flexible environment. One key aspect is encouraging autonomy among your team, allowing them to take ownership of their work and make decisions within their areas of expertise. This not only empowers individuals but also fosters a sense of accountability and trust in their capabilities.

“As human beings, we require autonomy to function and it drives that intrinsic motivation. A psychologically safe environment and an autonomous environment create that intrinsic motivation that we crave and strive for. Those that are intrinsically motivated as a result of being given autonomy are more likely to do their best work when nobody's watching, as opposed to doing their best work because somebody's there.“ - Amy.

Another important element is promoting a healthy work-life balance. Recognise the importance of personal well-being and support your team in maintaining a sustainable approach to their professional and personal lives. Show understanding and flexibility when it comes to accommodating individual needs and priorities. Additionally, remember the law of reciprocation. By demonstrating trust and respect towards your team, they are more likely to reciprocate and trust you in return. Be transparent, communicate openly, and fulfill your commitments to build a foundation of trust and mutual respect. By integrating these principles, you can create a culture of trust in a flexible environment, where team members feel valued, motivated, and supported.

“The law of reciprocation tells us that when we receive something, we're more likely to give in exchange. So if I'm given trust, as a human being, I am more likely to respond with trusting behaviour. And that's where I think flexibility most of the time pays off.” - Amy.

In conclusion, creating a culture of trust is crucial for building strong, high-performing teams. Trust attracts top talent, fosters a sense of belonging, and unleashes creativity. It provides valuable insight into the well-being of your team and enables proactive problem-solving. By leading with honesty, promoting collaboration, showing appreciation, and fostering a flexible environment, you can create a culture of trust where team members feel valued, motivated, and supported. Invest in trust, and watch your team thrive!