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An essential aspect of effective leadership


IQA Fellow and certified coach Mike Cameron explains why trust is fundamental to effective leadership and a critical factor in building team success across all aspects of a professional organisation.

In this ongoing age of Trumpism, extremism and fake news, broken election promises and glib double-talk from politicians, and avaricious behaviour by corporate leaders, we have become a nation of cynics crying out for strong leadership and a return to old-school thinking, such as trust, ethics and values.

At whatever level within an organisation – and after due evaluation of corporate expectations and directives – it is a vital responsibility of effective leadership to set an example and regularly review their behaviours, communication style and their team’s interactions, internally with suppliers/contractors and externally with the community and regulators. 

In May 2021, I made a presentation – The importance of Trust in the Workplace – at the Institute of Public Works Engineers Australia (IPWEA) Victorian virtual conference. Thanks to COVID-19, the event was delayed by a year.

My articles in March and May 2020 for Quarry were based on the framework of the IPWEA presentation. I planned to present a modified version of the paper at the IQA’s national conference in late 2021; it too was postponed until late March 2022.

Mike Cameron.

The following reiterates the importance of some of the models and topics in my paper:

TRUSTWORTHINESS – based on a modified Green/Maister’s Trust Equation and the Trust Matrix from Stephen MR Covey’s The Speed of Trust.

PRIMING FOR TRUST – based on Judith E Glaser’s Conversational Essentials.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE – based on Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. This offers an explanation on how to create the capacity to be aware of, to control and express, one’s emotions while handling interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

COACHING – based upon understanding the requirements and having the competence to effectively apply those skills.


In the modified version of Green/Maister’s Trust Equation there are four objective variables to measure Trust Quotient (TQ) or Trustworthiness: Believability, Dependability, Relatability and Self-Interest, which are then combined to create the following equation:

TQ is a measure of an individual’s TRUSTWORTHINESS that can be easily assessed using these four variables:

  1. Believability. Having confidence in the truth, existence, or reliability of something, albeit without absolute proof.
  2. Dependability. Relates to the other person’s actions and their display of honesty, economy, faithfulness and a capacity for finishing what is started.
  3. Relatability. Refers to your connection to the other person; appreciating their ease of communication; identifying with their ability to understand and be understood; and to recognise/appreciate when they display empathy towards you and others.
  4. Self-interest – which relates to the other person’s focus, ie are they focused on themselves or you, when making decisions and advising what is best for you? 


Figure 1, from Stephen MR Covey’s The Speed of Trust, identifies that TRUST is established through a fusion of Character and Competence. Covey says that Intent combines Caring, Transparency and Openness. Integrity is defined by Honesty, Fairness and Authenticity. Covey describes Capability as requiring one to have Skills, Knowledge and Experience and he concludes that Results are determined by Record, Credibility and Performance.

Figure 1. Steven MR Covey’s TRUST Matrix.


In her book Conversational Intelligence, Judith E Glaser discusses her foundational work on Conversational Essentials, listed below:

Being Open to Influence. Connecting without judgement, engaging and listening to what others are saying and even thinking, rather than preparing for what we want to say next.

Priming for Trust. Creating a healthy mental, emotional and conversational environment that activates higher levels of partnering.

This Essential is the foundation of Conversational Intelligence. Trust is when we believe others will deliver on their promises. Distrust is when we doubt others are telling the truth and believe they will not deliver on their promises. Priming for Trust enables us to work as partners and to achieve higher levels of success with others. TRUST involves actively bringing the following behaviours into your interactions with others:

Transparency. Ask Questions for Which You/We Have No Answers, ie being in a mindset of discovery, and co-creating a space of sharing and discovering.

Relationships. Listening to Connect, Not Judge, Confirm or Reject. Focusing attention on the other person: opening yourself up to connect to the other person’s aspiration and “view of the world” in a non-judgmental way.

Understanding. Sustaining Conversational Agility. Moving in and out of conversations with ease and agility; create a new “conversational space” that elevates trust and invites wisdom and insight to emerge.

Shared Success.

Truth Telling. 

Double-clicking. Uncover and explore what is in the other person’s mind, gaining clarity and deeper understanding of others’ perspectives, their beliefs, and their unique viewpoints.


Daniel Goleman’s model for Emotional Intelligence is outlined as follows:

Self-awareness: The recognition of one’s own strengths and weaknesses.

Self-regulation: The ability to manage emotion and express it appropriately and usefully.

Motivation: Being driven internally, rather than just working for a pay cheque.

Empathy: The ability to note and respond to other people’s motivations and needs.

People skills: The ability to win others’ respect and build rapport.


Understanding the value of coaching and regularly applying those skills is important. Are you the Task Master or the Coach?

Coaching guides team members towards their own resourcefulness, knowledge and insights. Unlike training, where the course facilitator sets the agenda, coaching focuses on supporting the person through their own discovery of blind spots and opportunities for empowerment. 

An effective coach, particularly one interested in leading through change, transformation and empowerment, knows how to point team members towards innovation and new discoveries (Figure 2). 

If you want to inspire the hearts and minds of your team then it is time for a different approach – Coach!

Figure 2. An effective coach is more than just a guide.


The word TRUST appears three times in the Effective Leadership model. It is the foundational concept for the model, a critical aspect of workplace engagement and an important leadership mindset (Figure 3).

Creating, maintaining and sustaining TRUST is not easy. It takes active participation and the regular display, of Respect, Courage, Integrity and Agility (ie being nimble emotionally and in your leadership style).

Figure 3. The seven characteristics of effective leadership, supplemented by the four attributes of trust.

Here are two quotations to ponder:

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care (about them).” (Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt)

“People leave managers, not companies.” (Marcus Buckingham)
I am sure that many of us have endured periods of working with a boss who showed us little or no respect, micro-managed or attempted to control our every action. These types of behaviour were hardly conducive to gaining our Respect or building Trust.

In a recent Boston Consulting Group-sponsored webcast of the M&M Show – ‘Has the concept of the Corporation died?’1 – there were three guests: Tom Peters, Susan David and Alan Mulally. The key take-aways from all three luminaries were:

(i) The importance of Trust in your relationships. 

(ii) Ensuring that your people feel aligned with your values.

(iii) Focusing on your people and showing that you care and appreciate their contribution to your success.

(iv) Listening for understanding while managing by “walking around”.

(v) Using open, unambiguous and consistent messaging and being aware of your leadership style.

(vi) Showing courage, integrity and respect when difficult conversations are necessary.

I reiterate the importance of establishing (and sustaining) trust in the workplace while appreciating the role that your communication style and tone; leadership style and focus, and overall agility (emotional and leadership) play in changing people’s perceptions of you as their leader (Figure 4).

Figure 4. The importance of establishing and sustaining trust in the workplace.

Finally, to become an effective leader, I recommend you measure yourself and your leadership style against the following simple definitions, ie the seven core characteristics of the Effective Leadership model:

  1. Know Yourself. “Confident leaders apply their strengths judiciously and work on their personal growth and development. They appreciate the value of life-long learning and self-discovery.”
  2. Vision and Values. “Visionary leaders appreciate that, while values make a contribution, vision is future-focused and about developing clarity and purpose around their goals.”
  3. Trust in your Leadership. “Trustworthy leaders appreciate themselves, exhibit their values, walk their talk and trust in their worth. They work with their people to establish believability, dependability and reliability through open and transparent behaviour that lacks self-interest.”
  4. Motivation and Teamwork. “Motivated leaders create a working environment where empowerment and active encouragement build teamwork. They show trust and courage while walking the talk.”
  5. Empathetic Relationships. “Empathetic leaders have the ability to recognise, understand and share the thoughts and feelings of another person. They acknowledge the story without judgement.”
  6. Effective Communication. “Effective leaders understand the power of words and their ability to inspire, support, reassure and direct their people. They communicate with clarity of purpose.”
  7. Emotional Resilience. “Resilient leaders are aware and in control of their emotions and have the ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises. They overcome adversity without lasting issues.”

Within my recent book Effective Leaders, I introduced each of the four attributes (shown in the model firmly supported by a foundation of TRUST) as follows:

RESPECT (Gender Equality, Equity and Inclusion: Cultural Diversity, Equality, Equity and Inclusion).

With regard to Culture and Inclusion, I sought answers to the following three questions:

(i) The way in which diverse peoples, tribes, communities – across Australia and the Torres Straits – want:

(a) Their history, culture, knowledge of Country and current needs to be understood by the other inhabitants of Australia.

(b) To be recognised and listened to across all levels of government (Federal, State and local) – with an acceptance that this will have an impact upon existing policy and guide future policy direction.

(c) The authorities, regulators and service providers to better manage their specific accountabilities and regular interaction with Indigneous communities.

(ii) The way in which the First Nation’s Elders would define their leadership role(s) during the negotiation processes, subsequent implementation strategies and longer term regulation of these many, widely dispersed and diverse communities.

(iii) The key points you would want a reader of this article, as an emerging or effective leader, to take away with intent to actively support significant long-term change and the meaningful inclusion of Aboriginal culture within the Australian “way of life”.


Bill Treasurer, author of Courage goes to work, wrote in the introduction to his article for this section of my book:

People have high, and often conflicting, expectations of leaders. At once, we expect leaders to be reasonable but passionate, decisive but inclusive, visionary but explicit, and powerful but humble. We also want leaders who are rational but emotionally intelligent, caring but impartial, and profit-driven but people-oriented … we also want our leaders to know how to operate all the levers of business … the relationships between functions and departments … markets and customers … the business development process, how funding sources flow, how to mitigate risks, and how to attract, develop, assess, and reward talent.

The list of expectations is so long and contradictory that the aspiring leader is right to ask, “Where on earth do I start?!”

Start with C-O-U-R-A-G-E!

Courage, according to Aristotle, is the first virtue … because it makes all the other virtues possible.


Anthony Tham, in his article for my book, noted that Warren Buffet, the billionaire investor, is well known for telling a story about his firm’s perspective on recruiting, and integrity is central to the selection principles. “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence … initiative or energy … and … integrity. And if they do not have the latter, the first two will kill you because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.” 

Maister has argued that professionalism is about a dedication to personal improvement and a commitment to providing the best, most efficient service to clients. A part of achieving this outcome is working with other professionals and guiding clients; in both cases, these groups need a reason to follow or listen to you. There are four tests to be met: motives, values, competence and style. The first test that a leader and advisor must meet is that of motives. The leader’s integrity is central to passing this test. Maister writes:

Your task as a leader is to help others to succeed, not to strive only for your own success. If I do not trust your motives, nothing else will matter because my primary concern is your integrity.


Bill Joiner, author of Leadership Agility, opened his piece with the following statement:

Today’s business leaders face an environment … dramatically different from … 20 years ago. Even before … COVID … everything was changing rapidly and becoming increasingly interdependent. Now we must ask, will there be a “new normal”, and what will the post-pandemic business environment look like?

In this emerging era, uncertainty abounds but the business environment will be ruled by two powerful, underlying global trends … the pace of change will accelerate and everything will depend more on interconnected relationships. Together, these two deep global trends constitute the underlying cause of … today’s ‘VUCA world’… characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

Dr Susan David, author of Emotional Agility, permitted me to reprint a short piece she had written for Slack Technologies in 2019 entitled The State of Work. It opens with:

Fortunately alignment is not a finite resource. It is a competitive advantage available to every worker and every company, everywhere.

What people want – and need – is to feel part of the bigger plan. To be kept in the loop. To have the support and understanding … to achieve their best work. Even aligned workers agree that they want more alignment. Workers everywhere want more transparency, frequent communication and a clear understanding of who is doing what.

Companies acting now … can reshape their trajectories toward more innovation, happier and more engaged workers, and ultimately more growth and revenue.

When people … bring their emotional truth to work … innovation, creativity, engagement and culture thrive in the organisation.

Data is wonderful, but how can you translate that into action within your team? Dr David lists eight principles all leaders, from executives to managers, can leverage to provide their teams with the support to achieve the best outcomes:

  1. Invest in alignment now.
  2. Lead with strategy and vision.
  3. Communicate your strategy monthly.
  4. Allow people to be more human at work.
  5. Empower all leaders to share the strategic vision but start at the top.
  6. Opt for meetings and collaborative channels when sharing strategy.
  7. Aggregate tools and information.
  8. Distraction is not just a productivity killer.

Mark P Dangelo, wrote an enlightening, innovative article called Force Multipliers for this segment. He opens as follows:

Peter Thiel was … quoted … that “competition is for losers”. Yet, when … charting a new course, leading diverse and global teams, and finding complementary and collaborative members to deliver results, are prescriptive statements the answer against iterative, fast-cycle business demands? Or are we … now recognising that traditional management and leadership approaches lack relevancy?
… the traditional answers and benchmark axioms are … replaced by visionary leaders contemplating: “Are we asking the right questions?”

For leaders struggling with Industry 4.0 management and leadership efficacy … The realities of social, technical, and behavioural demands brought on by digital economies and rising stakeholder capitalism is forcing a quantum shift in how leaders inspire not only their employees, but themselves. However, the definition of Industry 4.0 is opaque for many as the hype of digital transformation and building block innovational advancements take precedent over substance.

To address a framework to leverage Industry 4.0 requires a new approach to alignment and agility when it comes to leadership skills. 

My article offers suggestions that will help you gain a clearer insight about building, and sustaining, a working environment that encourages TRUSTWORTHINESS. To support your team, you must implement strategies and processes that ensure you:

  • Establish trust and encourage trustworthiness.
  • Use open, transparent and effective communication.
  • Utilise conversational essentials and prime for trust.
  • Become a great coach.
  • Apply emotional agility.
  • Enjoy your leadership role and keep learning. 

Mike Cameron is an IQA Fellow and a certified workplace coach. Visit or email


1  The M&M Show: Has the concept of the Corporation died? A podcast hosted by Martin Linstrom and Marshall Goldsmith on LinkedIN on 16 September, 2021.

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