Building Trust in Your Organization

“Trust is the most precious of the golden threads that connect us with others. Without it, there can be no ‘WE.’ With trust, growth, change, and transformation are possible.”

Judith Glaser

Trust is the foundation for engaging with others. When you build trust, you can truly inspire and empower others. Leaders build trust one conversation at a time. When there is trust in relationships, everything goes smoother and faster with candid and clear communication that gets better results. 

We know this to be true in our own lives, but data backs it up. Gallup research shows that employees who trust their employers experience 74% less stress and 40% less burnout. One third of employees shared they’d stay longer with an organization if leaders kept their promises; furthermore, companies with high trust levels outperform companies with low trust levels by a resounding 186%. 

Where does trust live in an organization?

Have you ever said to a colleague or employee, “Just trust me!” and felt that was sufficient for gaining trust? Of course not. Trust in an organization lives and breathes through the individuals that make up that organization. 

We can create trust, but we have to understand first where it lives with us, as individuals. 

Harnessing conversation neurochemistry

Understanding and utilizing the neurochemistry of conversations enables us to achieve profound transformational results and revolutionizes the way we interact as human beings—whether we’re working with individuals, teams, or entire organizations. 

Humans are wired to connect; but we’re also programmed to distrust first. Distrust lives in the most primitive regions of our brains, which are hardwired to protect us.

diagram of brain neurochemistry during conversations

Heart Brain

  • Enables connection all internal systems and others
  • When we are in sync with our heart brain, we move towards each other as friends; when we don’t sync we move away and feel others are foe

Limbic Brain

  • Stores history of all emotional experiences
  • The limbic brain says, “Where do I fit in?”
  • Reads social context, looks for inclusion and exclusion
  • Move towards or away from each other


  • Hardwired for language, storing info, basic thinking, reasoning and cognitive skills
  • Holds our internal “scripts,” including working memory and stored memory
  • Newer researcher says right brain is change brain and left brain is steady-state brain

Gut Brain

  • Link between digestion, mood and health and the way we think
  • Stress correlated to lack of biodiversity in gut flora
  • Keep track of social cues and allows us to alter behavior accordingly 

Prefrontal Cortex – newest part of the brain

  • Higher level coordination of the whole brain
  • Envision future and create scenarios, step into shoes of others – empathy, mirror neurons, make judgments, live in trust and have integrity
  • Advanced capabilities – judging, dreaming, possibility

Awareness shapes our environment for trust

We need to be more intentional in shaping the environment for trust—this opens up the prefrontal cortex, where we can best make choices without an automatic response. 

Think about our primitive brain states as an uphill climb—everything is primed for survival and is an uphill battle for us to communicate. 

Think about our prefrontal cortex as strolling on a country lane—moving forward is possible in conversation and there is a noticeable flow. 

Awareness of what we’re saying as we’re having conversations and building trust connects us with the most advanced parts of the newest brain, which can even be thought of as the “executive brain.” 

Knowing the brain research and neuroscience principles that underlie the words and actions that build (or erode) trust is the key to increasing a leader’s self-awareness and the ability to engage and inspire others more naturally and logically. 

Trust is a pivotal element in the future of remote work

74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard. This opinion is also shared by 76% of entrepreneurs—and tech organizations specifically will be leading the charge on this new normal. 

To create meaningful work across teams in-office, you need trust; but trust in an organization is more important than ever with remote work. Flexibility in work schedules and work locations are key to retaining talent—but make communication even more important. 

Regulating and understanding TRUST

Creating trust in an organization can be as simple as TRUST




Shared Success

Test Assumptions 

When we use this model as a roadmap, we can be aware of our mindset, intentions and impact. As we know, this puts us in our prefrontal cortex where we’re best suited to make the decisions and connections that move our companies forward. 

Stay tuned for the next in our Organizational Trust series, where we’ll dive deep into Transparency. 

Does your organization need a trust assessment? 

Contact us to learn more. 



Diversity and Inclusion Are Not Enough

The past decade saw an increasing focus on diversity and inclusion in the corporate world. I remember the first training I did on unconscious bias in the early 2000s and seeing the defensive faces around the table was intriguing. At first, we were probably ashamed to realize our bias and how they played a role in the way we hired, managed, and evaluated our teams. Years later, studies proved the effectiveness of diverse groups, and quickly there was a surge of targets for diversity in the top organizations.  

Since then, diversity and inclusion became a metric to evaluate team effectiveness. Multigeneration workplaces, cultural variety, and complimentary soft skills are also components of a successfully diverse organization. However, before I continue recapping the rise of D&I, let me share some impressive numbers. 

According to a research published on Fast Company magazine, a higher representation of women in C-suite level positions results in 34% greater returns. Still, when we look at the Fortune 1000 companies, in 2019, women representation was at 25%, merely 1% up from 2018. Another study, conducted by Korn Ferry in 2019, breaks down women’s presence in the C-Suite, showing only 6% of representation at the top of the pyramid. 

When considering gender, age, ethnicity, veteran status, disability, and LGBTQIA+, results show that a diverse corporate talent pool increases innovation and helps organizations attract and retain talents, generating a virtuous cycle for organizations. In 2015, a report from Delloite showed that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity had 2.3 times more cash flow. Interestingly, the graph below still shows underrepresentation at every level of corporate America.

If all those results showing the benefits of diversity are not sufficient, we may think that movements like #MeToo would be an extra help. Well, there is evidence suggesting that it is more difficult for women to advance their careers in the past three years. A 2019 survey conducted by and SurveyMonkey found that 60% of male managers are uncomfortable performing everyday workplace activities such as mentoring, working one-on-one, or socializing with women, representing a 32% increase over 2018. That makes me think about how the current Black Lives Matter protests may influence behavior towards people of color in the workplace.
We need to take a firmer instance and be proactive. An interview, where Sweet Livity’s founder Diana Marie Lee talked about Restorative HR, inspired me. She defined the concept as a strategic approach for improving workplace culture and worker well-being. According to her, the goal is to build capacity in the organization, teaching employees, at all levels, to hold space for courageous conversations and restorative work. The approach is inclusive and intends to provide tools for each team member to self-manage future issues. In my opinion, the merit of this approach is to create a safe space for both managers and team members.
In summary, there is a need for organizations to build a foundation of trust that allows collaborators to be vulnerable and show up as their real selves. Secondly, we need to retake our unconscious bias training and demystify themes such as racism, gender inequality, age, and other bias triggers. Thirdly, and lastly, there is a necessity to be tolerant during a period of intense education and learning. It is unlikely that we will succeed if we do not act. It is even more doubtful that we will get results and progress if we have fear instead of trust.