Albert Einstein clearly explained “whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the important matters.” In a cleared business where truth and trust are paramount, there remains an elusiveness around the ability to complicity trust all. There are ways for each of us to increase our trustworthiness and build a collaborative environment where teammates feel trusted.

Biggest pushback to trust is control

When organizations work toward creating a more collaborative and open environment there’s often substantive pushback. It feels dangerous. The thought that people could use information against one another is often cited. Additionally, something that is making information more visible means giving up control. In secured jobs there are definitely points to be made to this but in areas where collaboration is key, it begs to be asked if you were really in control of that information to begin with. There is a false sense of security for holding all of the information within a very small circle of people. The more open an organization is, the faster it moves and with greater trust.

Improving Trust

Trust is critical. A top characteristic of a great leader is honesty. Being honest with the people you work with helps you create an environment where you can move faster, go further, and make better decisions to execute your strategy. To do this, begin by creating openness. Identify those places where trust is low and address it with openness. You can begin by trusting people to do their jobs and asking yourself if they trust you to lead them. Honest self-assessments are critical in creating a more open and trusting environment.

Demonstrating trust follows along the lines of leading by example. When your words and your actions match, the creation of a trust-filled workplace thrives. When the audio and the video mismatch the problem metastasizes, and rebuilding that trust takes longer than expected.

Sustaining Trust

A workplace with high integrity is sustained through actions. This occurs through words of encouragement and a continued pursuit to talk about trust. When vital data is available where it can best be used, employees turn their default setting to open, and private is the exception. Resources like collaboration platforms encourage sharing through informal connection building, a place where trust is facilitated.

Feedback is another key area where the demonstration of trust is seen in action. Viewing people first, as humans, and understanding what drives them allows a leader insight into accessing what motivates them. Honest feedback also makes the team better and allows people to understand areas where improvement is necessary. Allowing a team to move forward within an open environment allows them to tackle challenges head on.

If You Build It, They Will Come

The building and maintenance of a trusting workplace is critical for professional relationships to succeed. The fragility of this commodity requires encouragement, routine application, and continued assessment to ensure trust remains paramount in a group. The enemies of poor decisions and a lack of communication surely starve trust out of any workforce. Like most things in life, the behavior of trust can be both learned and developed. The achievement of a high performing team, infused in a collaborative environment of trust, will drive any workforce towards more clear and defined goals.

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Candice Frost is an active duty Army officer and a leadership consultant. Her work in intelligence on the Army Staff provides her unique insights on the highest levels of leadership in DoD. She is a public speaker who focuses on mentorship and leader development. She lives in Washington, DC and can be reached at