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Trust Predicts Success

Aug 01, 2022

Trust. This word means so many different things to different people. Each of us longs to be trusted and hope that we can trust others. Why do we feel this way? Because people are social beings. People want to belong, want to connect with others, want to find "their people". This feeling, trust, is central to our well being...and our performance.

I just reviewed a recent research study that revealed very specific trends in what makes a high performance team achieve. I was not surprised at one of the key findings: Trust predicts >72% of outcome scores. What are outcome scores?

  • Sustainability - driven for long-term success.
  • Satisfaction - committed to the team.
  • Results - focused on achievement.
  • Agility - ready to take new opportunities.

This data comes out of a 15 year study on team health and vitality. The fact that trust has this much of an impact on team performance and outcomes should give all of us an insight into what people want in the workplace. So much has been said of the "Great Resignation". But is it more of a great migration? In speaking with job candidates over the past two years, the primary reason they told me they left their last job was to move to new employment that provided "a better overall experience". Notice that money was not mentioned. When I asked about what that "better experience" looks like, this is what I heard:

  • A better culture
  • More trust
  • A great team to work with
  • More enjoyment in the work
  • More satisfaction

You can boil this down into two primary categories; more trust, better work environment.

No wonder the top 25% of teams have high trust levels. Trust removes roadblocks, opens the door to more transparency, provides a more psychologically safe environment, and allows team members and leaders to have better alignment.

Trust is an emotion. I realize many people do not think of it that way, but it is true. Take a moment and think about someone you trust at a very high level. What is it about your relationship with them that allows you to trust them that much? Now, think of someone you do not trust very much. What is it about them that makes you feel that way?

When we think of trust in a team environment, it becomes more complex...but is it really? Here is a quote directly out of the Team Vitality Report 2022 by Six Seconds:

TRUST fuels high performing teams, but as teams have become more diverse, dispersed, digital and dynamic, it’s harder than ever for leaders to cultivate high levels of trust. The debate over hybrid and remote work policies has exacerbated this issue. Even when companies have brought employees back to the office with good intentions, many have inadvertently sent the message that they don’t trust employees to do their work unsupervised - even though, in many cases, that’s exactly what the employees have been doing for years. Google’s Project Aristotle identified a number of beliefs or feelings shared by its most innovative, highest performing teams, ⁷ and one of them is strongly correlated with trust: psychological safety, or the belief that it is acceptable to voice your opinion, to share ideas that challenge the status quo, a superior’s idea, or even a company’s current direction on a project. At the heart of psychological safety is TRUST – that invisible feeling that drives so much of behavior, especially in group settings.

The Workplace Vitality Research suggests that as leaders face unprecedented emotional complexity in the new landscape of remote and hybrid work, building and maintaining TRUST should remain a top priority. It’s more challenging than ever, but also more important.

For the last several weeks I have been diligently working on a new online course that has been highly requested, "Leading Hybrid & Virtual Teams to Become High Performing Teams." You can check it out here. In this course is a specific equation that I have developed to express the role of trust in gaining influence:

Connection + Trust = Influence

Influence has become a currency all to its own. The more influence we have, the more we can spend.

Building trust has become a critical success factor. Authority alone is not enough to lead a team to be a high performing team. The human element has to be taken into account, and with teams moving more and more to hybrid and virtual workplaces, trust building has become a bigger challenge.

Hands down, there is no better skill set to develop to build trust than emotional intelligence. Hundreds of research articles and case studies have proven this to be true. But when we measure emotional intelligence (EQ), we are measuring capacity not application. Application comes from practicing EQ. EQ (emotional intelligence) is real science based in neuroscience.

To excel in leadership, you must first trust yourself, your skills, your vision, and your approach. This is where confidence comes from. If any of those areas are a cause of concern for you, you have come to the right place!! The EQFIT® courses are unique. How? By providing insights into how our brains work, how to navigate emotions in ourselves and others, and how to blend emotional intelligence with leadership skills to get the best results.

Now, let's look at trust at work. For someone else to trust you, there are specific things that have to happen. We start by looking at the Trust Equation:

Notice that these "variables" in the equation are things we think about all the time in leadership. Do we connect well? Are we credible and reliable. One we may not consider enough is Self-Orientation.


When I was promoted to a manager for the first time in my life, I was fairly young. I was so excited to be a manager! There was so much I wanted to do. It was a sales manger position with about 10 sales people over several states. I was replacing a recently retired manager that was loved. Here was the problem...while he was loved by the sales team, he was not really holding anyone accountable. I was told by my boss that, "You have your work cut out for you." That was all he said. That was a lesson I have carried forward to today. If a new leader is going to be successful, they need to understand what other people know about the road ahead. I needed a success pathway and my manager did not provide that for me. This was the first Trust Point in my story. My manager did not share with me what I needed to know, so I did not have much trust in him. I told myself that I was not going to do that to my team. I was going to trust them, let them grow and develop. Next Trust Point: I committed to building trust with my team. That was a difficult task since I also had to hold them accountable to the goals we were tasked with achieving. 

Key Point: Trust and Like are not the same thing. The sales team liked the last manager, not so much me. But over the next several months, I worked in building connection with each team member and building trust. Trust is built through the elements listed above in the graphic. Am I credible, am I reliable, do I make connection (investing in relationship) a priority? Over time and through my efforts, my sales team saw me as someone they could trust, who had their best interest in mind...but also the best interest of the team and the organization.

When I first started with my new role, the sales team probably gave me a low trust score. How did I change that? By practicing the elements that build trust. Eventually that trust turned into something more...first it was respect, then eventually they liked me. My goal was not for them to like me, but to trust me.

Trust in Action

Trust is a cumulative process. You do not go from low trust to high trust with someone in one interaction. It takes time and experience to build trust. Any breech of trust will set the trust building process back a very long way. What are some specific action steps you can take to build trust, especially in a team environment:

  • Treat every interaction as important.
  • Be intentional about building trust.
  • Practice being trustworthy using the elements in the Trust Equation as building blocks.
  • Rate your trust levels with others.

As a leader, and we are all leaders, even if we only lead ourselves, trust is the currency of getting things done. Trust trust with others. This is a recipe for success now and in the long-term.

Copyright © 2022 EQFIT® - Author: Steven Goodner All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact: [email protected]

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