Leaders often ask me: How can we build trust on this team? I don’t think that’s the right question. Both inside and outside of work, trust is the basis of all relationships. And that trust has to be earned. So, I prefer to ask: How do we become more trustworthy team members?

In reviewing the research on trustworthiness, I have identified what I call “The Big Ten”. These are ten determinants of whether you are seen by others as trustworthy. To assess your trustworthiness, ask yourself the following questions.

Clarity: To what extent do I clearly and consistently communicate my expectations of others (vs. being unclear about or frequently changing expectations)?

Transparency: To what extent do I share relevant information with others (vs. withhold information or have a hidden agenda)?

Honesty: To what extent do I tell the truth (vs. not telling the truth or telling different stories to different people)?

Dependability: To what extent do I keep commitments and act consistently with my word (vs. not following through on commitments or saying one thing and doing another)?

Respect: To what extent do I treat others with tolerance and dignity, especially when I don’t agree with or understand their motivations (vs. treating others in ways that feel hostile, patronizing or degrading).

Extension of Trust: To what extent do I convey trust in other people’s abilities, judgment, and motives (vs. second-guessing, micro-managing, etc.)?

Fairness: To what extent do I use my power in a way that feels measured, equitable, and just (vs. using power in ways that evoke fear, resentment, or resignation in others)?

Safety: To what extent do others feel safe confiding in me with regard to their perspectives and feelings (vs. worried I might judge, repeat or misuse this information)?

Self-orientation: To what extent do others believe I will make decisions that take into account their and the organization’s interests (vs. focusing on my own interests or goals)?

Values Alignment: To what extent do I walk the talk of my values (vs. taking action and making decisions that are not consistent with values I and/or the organization espouse)?

As you consider these ten drivers of trustworthiness, which matter most on your team?

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